Silverthorne is built on a Placer Deposit

In the fall of 2016 I was driving by a construction site in our little town of Silverthorne. The site is a block west of the main highway through town and therefore about three blocks from the Blue River. The construction was for a new microbrewery and I noticed a big pile of dirt from the foundation digging. The dirt looked like ancient river bed material – it had sand and lots of rounded river cobbles! I stopped and talked to a couple guys standing in the middle of the construction site in business clothes (not construction worker appropriate gear). As I guessed, they turned out to be the owners. I explained my interest and they gave me permission to come process some of the dirt to see if there was gold in it. I brought the drywasher down a couple days later and yup, gold! The dirt was damp so I had to run it through my battery operated puffer 5-6 times. Those of you with similar equipment know rerunning dirt is actually quite quick to do, so I didn’t mind doing it. The gold was small and not as rich as I’d hoped but gold all the same.

Drywasher gold from Central Silverthorne (zoomed in to show detail)

Anyway, the owner came by as I was wrapping up and I told him I was going to give him the gold in a little display vial once the microbrewery opened. He said he’d give me “free” beer as a thanks. I’m looking forward to trying their American brown ale or the Belgian strong ale 🙂 This will make me the first person in Summit County, in about 100 years, to pay my bar tab with raw gold!

(UPDATED) This article was noticed by our town and promoted widely. It became my most read post (up to that point anyway) and brought some very good press to the brewery. Cool stuff!

(UPDATED) The brewery is now open so plan to stop by Angry James Brewing on Adams St. in Silverthorne for a beer. Be sure to ask to see the gold from the brewery site 🙂 If there’s still a pile of cobbley dirt at the back of the property, ask about taking some home to pan 😉 

(UDPATED) My wife ( and I were at the grand opening of the brewery last night (Jan 26, 2018). We tried all the beers, met the owners, did the presentation of the gold and had a great time! I wish our new favorite brewery all the success they dream of! Oh, and, I’m happy to say that the brown ale I waited so long to buy with my gold was totally worth the wait! The pulled pork sandwich was delicious too 🙂

All the gold and all the beers 🙂
Delicious brown ale and gold…the best!
Presenting the gold to the owners.

All of this makes historical sense. The town was built on Judge Silverthorn’s old placer claim. He mined it for a little while before deciding he could make more money selling off town lots on the land back during the gold rush era. The gold is quite fine due to being what was washed all the way down from the Breckenridge area and the Copper Mountain/Kokomo area. The bigger gold stayed upstream. I expect this gold was too small for efficient production back in the 1800’s.

PS: I just read about another development to be done on the next block over from the brewery site. Maybe THAT’S where the old river channel dropped the good stuff! You can be sure I’ll find a way to test that dirt too! Wish me luck 😉

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