Silverthorne is built on a Placer Deposit

Last fall 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 he 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!

This summer, 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 😉

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 washed all the way down from Breckenridge area and Copper Mountain/Kokomo area. I expect it 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!

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