The Colorado Central

Before we launch into building the Silver Plume Bakery, let's take a few moments to review the history behind the structure.

The Bakery, was located in Silver Plume which was a destination point for the narrow gauge Colorado Central Railroad:
1865 - The "Central" was the first railroad corporation in Colorado. The original plan was to build a standard gauge line to tap into the rich mining areas west of Denver.
1870 - The broad gauge portion between Denver and Golden was completed.
1871 - Narrow gauge to Forks Creek & Blackhawk completed. 36 miles from Golden.
1876 – Reached Georgetown on the “south” branch.

As was typical of the times, the railroad name and ownership was juggled on the first few years before any track was laid. At one point it was part of the Union Pacific empire!
At this time, Colorado was part of the new frontier with the establishment of key communities dictated by the warring railroads. The see-saw battle for control of the company between local and outside interests continued during the expansion of its lines into the mountains.
The major commodity for the railroad was the precious metal ore from the mines that was taken to the mills in Denver for refining. After the silver panic in 1892, the RR traffic decreased and shifted to include a greater percentage of agricultural and community shipments. The railroad never made an appreciable profit and was ultimately replaced by the automobile in the later 30’s.

Parts of the road bed can still be seen in the tight confines of the Clear Creek valley.

The Colorado CentralRailroad was built up the Clear Creek canyon following the river's course very closely. At Forks Creek, the RR split with the north branch proceeding north to the Blackhawk / Central City – richest square mile in the world!
The south branch lead to Idaho Springs, Georgetown, and on to Silver Plume.

The Forks Creek location had a station, eating house, water tank coal platform and wye, all in the limited space.
The track on the right went to Blackhawk while the track to the left went to Silver Plume.

The river valley took a steep rise after Georgetown which created an engineering challenge for the Colorado Central. The RR used a series of bridges and a “high bridge” that took the RR from one side of the valley to the other to gain the necessary length to raise the railraod 600 ft to reach Silver Plume at 9118 ft.

Building construction was very basic as the towns were built very quickly around any successful mining claims. The structures were of a " wood stick" design and many towns were subject to devestating fires that often obliterated whole sections at once. Brick buildings appeared in the more permanent and prosperous communities.
These early buildings often featured false fronts (to help enhance the profile of the business) and wood sidewalks. Note the bulding are built clesly side by side along the main thoroughfares. Signage was limited as as most people couldn’t read! Not the Unpaved streets which turned into a sea of mud when it rained.

Here is the Bakery in recent times.
The building is a 1972 replica of the 1885 building that originally sat on the site. The building was initially a hardware store and became abakery after the rebuilding.
Note the distinguishing features of the buidling: high front to promote prominence on the main street, display windows on 2 sides (fits on street corner) fancy trim on the side windows and clap board siding.
The sides not facing roads have a cheaper coering of board & batten and were often without fancy window trim, etc.

Photo by: R Newby Feb'08.

Photo by: R Newby Feb'08.

This Web page is maintained by Grant Knowles and was last updated on Nov 9, 2008.