The History of a Great Mining Town
Empire is one of Clear Creek County’s hidden gems. Located just off I-70 on US Highway 40 in a sunny star-shaped valley traversed by Clear Creek.
In the fall of 1860, miners struck silver in what is now Empire, making it the first true fissure lode discovered in Colorado. Empire enjoyed prosperity from 1861 to 1865. In 1873, Congress removed silver parity with gold and demonetized silver. Overnight, the city of Empire boomed. By 1875 the Union Pass road to Georgetown was complete as well as the Georgetown, Middle Park, and Empire wagon road over the great Snowy Range to Grand County. Today the 4 mile Union Pass road still exists as a hiking trail.
In 1862, the Peck House was built by James and Mary Grace Parsons Peck. However, after more than thirty years, Empire’s historic Peck House Hotel and Restaurant closed in April 2014, as owners Gary and Sally St.Clair chose to retire. Furthermore, Empire is home of the “Original” Hard Rock Cafe. Established in 1934, Empire’s Hard Rock Cafe is now home to the second location of the Guanella Pass Brewery.