Long Forgotten Williamsburg, Colorado, Once Touted As the Silver Capitol of the State

Posted: September 10, 2014 in Cemeteries and Graves

I’d heard a few rumors about a site called “Williamsburg” in Boulder County, Colorado.  Virtually no information or historical records exist on the settlement, and what does is spotty at best.  What I could find was Williamsburg was a silver mining town located somewhere north of Nederland prior to reaching Ward. In it’s early days, speculators and land brokers claimed Williamsburg would be the “Silver Capitol of Colorado” and for a very short time in the 1870’s it did rival nearby Caribou, which proved to be the real Silver Capitol of the region.  Soon though, the silver ores played out and Williamsburg disappeared.

For several years I drove every back road I could find in the area searching for any sign or remnant of Williamsburg. I pulled over at every turnout on the side of the road, looked in every ravine and wash, and poured over satellite images trying to find the slightest trace of the settlement.

On more than one occasion I’d find some evidence of man-made structures here and there, but nothing that I could definitively say was “Williamsburg”. Then, one summer afternoon, I pulled over into a wide dirt turnout next to a meadow along the Peak-to-Peak Highway- a meadow which I had driven past hundreds of times in my search for Williamsburg. As I got out and stretched my legs, and more importantly, let my overheating Range Rover cool down, I walked down to the fence line and looked out across the wide green meadow. Then, there it was in the Aspen trees right in front of me- Williamsburg. Not visible until I was literally standing on top of them, were the tumbledown cabins that marked the site I had looked for for so long.  I compared the three or four remaining structures with an old black and white photo of the site from an old book, and they were a dead match.

My overheating Range Rover that led to the discovery of the Williamsburg site.

                        My overheating Range Rover that led to the discovery of the Williamsburg site.

The meadow where the Williamsburg site is found

                                          The meadow where the Williamsburg site is found

Having finally found Williamsburg, I snapped a few photos of the fragile remains of yet another Colorado ghost town soon to be swallowed back up by mother earth, and wondered what stories those old cabins could tell. 

First signs of human settlement

                                                           First signs of human settlement

The first cabin of Williamsburg I saw in the Aspens

                                                  The first cabin of Williamsburg I saw in the Aspens

w4

The second cabin at Williamsburg, buried deep in the trees

                                       The second cabin at Williamsburg, buried deep in the trees

w8

                                                                                  Outhouse at the site

w10

Another Williamsburg structure lost among the trees.

                                    Another Williamsburg structure lost among the trees.

Comments
  1. Terry Brunke says:

    Hey Jeff, I really have enjoyed your site, just stumbled on it last night. I grew up on Sugarloaf and still enjoy coming to the area and exploring all I remember as a kid. It makes me sad how much of thew mining history got destroyed in the early 2000’s when the Feds came in and close off the mines, they destroyed alot of structures as well. I had briefly remembered reading about Williamsburg, but never tried to find it. After reading your post, comparing your pictured and poring over topographic and satellite maps, is this the proper latitude and longitude for Williamsburg 40.030480, -105.517965? Thanks for your reply! Terry

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