Arts / Cover Story

COVER: Local mountain museums connect with past

Ned Mining Museum Visitors

Nederland Mining Museum

Learning about history is often seen as dull, boring and without relevance. Not in the mountain towns of Colorado’s Front Range. While the region’s communities have evolved since their founding, many still display obvious evidence of, and strong connections to, their past identities—which around here is either hard rock mining or tourism.

To many, these histories are fascinating for their uniqueness and giving a glimpse of what it was like to live in such foreboding locations during the Victorian era. One of the best ways to explore these pasts more deeply—while creating a stronger connection to the area—is by visiting the many museums across the region.

With at least 30 museum attractions in the mountain communities from Georgetown to Estes Park, and many more in nearby metro area towns, no matter which direction you’re headed, you’re bound to be near a museum to delve into the past and take a step back in time.

In many parts of the country, museums are a great wintertime or rainy day activity. Around here, many of the attractions are only open between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, so visiting a local museum has to fit into summer plans.

The variety of museums in this small, rural part of Colorado is surprising. While many feature the general history of a specific area—like the George Rowe Museum in Silver Plume, Heritage Museum in Idaho Springs, Gilpin History Museum in Central City, Gold Hill Museum, Redstone Museum in Lyons and the Estes Park Museum—others focus on mining, firefighting, energy production and pioneer living. While setting aside time for special activates this summer, don’t forget to plan a visit to a local museum to expand your knowledge and appreciation for the region and its not too distant past. Watch for special museum events throughout the summer, too.

This summer, the Hamill House Museum in Georgetown, which is closed for renovations, hosts a first Friday lawn parties in June, July and August. The museum presents the “Mad Hatter Garden Party,” June 2, 5:30-7:30 p.m. The event features games on the lawn, food and entertainment. Wear your craziest, fanciest or funniest hat for a chance to win a prize. Adults are $15 and children 4-12 are $5.

The Gilpin Historical Society celebrates opening day for its Central City museums with a barbecue at the Gilpin Historical Museum, 228 E. 1st High St., May 27, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Enjoy half-off on admissions and tours, May 27-29.

AOM Visitor Looking at Interpretive Panel

James F. Bailey Assay Office Museum

Planning ahead is key to visiting the James F. Bailey Assay Office Museum, located in the historic town of Wallstreet in Fourmile Canyon. It’s only open one day a month in the summer, including May 20 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The free museum helps tell the story of hard rock mining in this area.

The Nederland Mining Museum is open Friday-Sunday from June-October. The museum provides a glimpse into the world of hard rock mining days in Boulder County during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A short talk titled “Hard Rock Mining, Hard Work” starts at 2 p.m. during visiting hours. Learn the stories behind hard rocking mining and watch a stamp mill crush ore. Try free gold panning at the museum, June 18, July 23 and Aug. 20 at noon. A free, three-hour hard rock mining journey—which begins at the museum July 1, Aug. 5, Sept. 28 and Oct. 12—explores the towns, tools and people of local mining heritage.

May is “History Month” at the Redstone Museum in Lyons, located in an 1881 schoolhouse. The museum, which features a new local newspapers exhibit, will open on weekends throughout the month beginning May 6. Its open daily June through September. A special open house for the new exhibit takes place May 13 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Lyons Classic Pinball showcases the state’s largest public collection of well-maintained pinball games. Its both a museum and operational arcade. The Lyons Spring Classic tournament, May 26-28, features the region’s best players.

In Estes Park, which is celebrating its centennial year, May is “Museum Month.” Test your knowledge of local landmarks and events at Trivia Night, every Tuesday in May at Rock Cut Brewing. There will be general knowledge trivia and Estes Park-specific questions written by the staff at the Estes Park Museum. Players and teams of all knowledge bases are welcome. The games begin at 7 p.m.

The 1917 Book Club, May 18, is a collaboration of the Estes Valley Library and the Estes Park Museum. May’s title is “Rocky Mountain National Park Dining Room Girl” by Nederland writers Kay Turnbaugh and Lee Tillotson. The authors will be present to lead the discussion.


Argo Gold Mine & Mill Museum
2350 Riverside Dr., Idaho Springs • 303-567-2421
Wed-Mon, 10am-4pm
Adults: $22, Children ages 5-10: $14, Under 5: free •

Baldpate Inn – Key & Photo Collection
4900 South Hwy 7, Estes Park • 970-586-6151 • Free
May 26-Nov. •

Bunce School Museum
Hwy 7 & Bunce School Road • Appointment only
Donations •

Central City Visitor Center
103 Eureka St., Central City • 303-582-3345 • Free
Daily, 10am-4pm; May 27-Aug.: Daily, 10am-6pm

Coeur d’ Alene Mine Shaft House
Academy Hill, Central City • 303-582-5283
May 26-Sept 4: Sat-Sun, 10am-2pm
Adults: $5, Children 12 and under: free •

Eagle Plume’s
9853 Hwy 7, Allenspark • 303-747-2861
May-Sept: Mon-Sun, 10am-5pm • Free •

Enos Mills Cabin Museum
6760 Hwy 7, Estes Park • 970-586-4706
Appointment only • $20 per person •

Estes Park Museum
200 Fourth St., Estes Park • 970-586-6256 • Free
May-Oct: Tues-Sat, 10am-4pm; Sun, 1-4pm

George Rowe Museum
905 Main, Silver Plume • 303-569-2562
May 26-Sept 4: 10am-4pm • $4

Georgetown Energy Museum
600 Griffith St, Georgetown • 303-569-3557 • Free
May 26-Oct 1: Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm; Sun, noon-4pm •

Georgetown Firefighting Museum at Alpine Hose #2
507 5th St, Georgetown • 303-569-2840
May 26-Sept 4: Tues-Sun, 10am-4pm
Adults: $5 • Under 5: free •

Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad Park
646 Loop Dr, Georgetown • 888-456-6777
Mon-Sun, 10am-3:50pm • Various fees

Gillaspie House Museum
Bridge & 4th Streets, Nederland • 303-258-0567
May 26-Oct: Fri.-Sun.: 11am-4pm • Free

Gilpin History Museum
228 E. 1st High St., Central City • 303-582-5283
Adults: $5-$6, Children 12 and under: free
May 26-Sept 4: Tues- Sun, 10am-4pm or appointment •

Gold Hill Museum
Prospect and Pine streets, Gold Hill • 303-442-2249
May 26-Sept 4: Sat, 11am-4pm; Sun, 11 am-4 pm
Free • Private tours $5 per person •

Hamill House Museum
305 Argentine St, Georgetown • 303-569-2840
Appointment only • Adults: $7, Seniors and children: $5, Under 5 and military: free

Heritage Museum & Visitor Center
2060 Miner St, Idaho Springs
Mon-Sun: 9am-5pm • Free

Historic Fall River Hydroplant
1754 Fish Hatchery Road, Estes Park • 970-586-6256
May 30-Sept 3: Tues-Sun: 1-4pm

Hotel de Paris Museum
409 6th St., Georgetown • 303-569-2311
Appointment only until May 27
May 27-Dec: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, noon-5pm
Adults: $7, Seniors/AAA Members: $5, Active Military/Children 7-17: $3, Under 6 and local residents: free

James F. Bailey Assay Office Museum
6352 Fourmile Canyon Dr, Boulder • 303-776-8848
May 20, June 17, July 15, Aug 19 Sept 16, Oct 21: 11am-3pm • Free •

Lula W. Dorsey Museum
2515 Tunnel Road, Estes Park • 970-586-3341 x1136
Call for hours • Free •

Lyons Classic Pinball
339-A Main Street, Lyons • 303-823-6100
Thur: 5-10pm; Fri-Sat: 3-11pm; Sun: 3-9pm

Lyons Redstone Museum
340 High Street, Lyons • 303-823-5271
Open weekends, May 6-28; Daily, June 1-Oct. 1
Mon-Sat, 9:30am-4:30pm; Sun, 12:30-4:30pm
Admission by donation •

MacGregor Ranch Museum
180 MacGregor Lane, Estes Park • 970-586-3749
June-Aug: Tues-Sat, 10am-4pm
Adults: $5, Children under 18: free

Moraine Park Discovery Center
Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park
970-586-1206 • Free with park admission
Spring-Fall: Mon-Sun, 9am – 5pm

Nederland Mining Museum
200 N. Bridge St., Nederland • 303-258-7332
June-October Hours: Fri-Sun, 11am-5pm • Free

Reliance Fire Museum
460 Elm Road, Estes Park • Free
Tours for 10 or more by appointment
Watch for Open House dates in summer months

Thomas House Central City
209 Eureka St., Central City • 303-582-5283
Adults: $5; Children 12 and under: free
Tues-Sun, 10 am-4pm •

Underhill Museum
1416 Miner St., Idaho Springs • 303-567-4709
Spring Hours: Sat-Sun, 11am,-5pm

Washington Hall
117 Eureka St, Central City • 303-582-5283
May 26-Sept 4: Tues-Sun, 10am-4pm; •

Originally published in the May 2017 issue of the MMAC Monthly

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