After entering through the tunnel, in the lowest level of the new extension, you will enter the world of the hardrock miner. The story will be told through displays and artifacts. You will visit a mine stope (where the ore was excavated), now in the process of being built using authentic equipment from the Sunnyside Mine.
YOU WILL ALSO SEE……………
The evolution of mine lighting, from the oil wick lamps and candlesticks through the carbide lamps, to the modern electric lamps of today. In conjunction, a rare collection of head gear, starting with the felt hat from home up through the hard hat used today.
In conjunction, a rare collection of head gear, starting with the felt hat from home up through the hard hat used today.
Mine engineering and geology display of transits and other technical instruments and equipment.
A complete antique assay lab where the value of ore was analyzed and determined.
A display of many antique telephone and electrical insulators.
A complete collection of underground timber tools including broadaxes, chisels and slicks, timber saws, plus the very rare “Tie Axe” used in the building of the three Silverton Railroads.
A collection of rock drills, starting with hand steel with striking hammers, the Jackson hand crank drill, to the many different pneumatic rock drills, past and present. With this, many types of drill steel and rock bits used.
“Machine Doctor’s Shop” where rock drills are repaired.
A display of blasting equipment, along with antique powder boxes.
A fully equipped Blacksmith Shop with tools and equipment rarely seen, even by the metalsmiths and collectors of today.
A broad and varied display of mine equipment and tools, ranging from the 1800s to the present, including: Battery powered locomotives, Overshot Muckers, Antique wood car on wooden 2x4 wood rails of the 1870s
The next floor up, the main floor, you will see ore wagons, an omnibus driven many years by Charley Rew, and a one-horse open sleigh, which will remind you of the song “Jingle Bells”
Carpenter and millwright tools for the period from the 1880s to the 1920s are displayed
You won’t be able to miss the authentic wooden aerial tram tower, complete with cables and ore buckets, which also hauled equipment and men, who rode in the buckets to their jobs at the mine. This particular tower was used by the Iowa-Tiger Mine and Mill in Arrastra Gulch. It was disassembled and transported to Silverton, then reassembled for this display.
The part of this building nearest the Court House, is actually the old Caledonian Boarding House which was precariously located in Minnie Gulch. It was being destroyed by the elements, including sliding rock, when the Historical Society took steps to save it. All its 8” x 9” logs were hand-hewn into flat square surfaces, made of local timber.
The building was painstakingly dismantled on the mountain, the parts meticulously numbered and color-coded, then stacked, ready to be moved. Some of the timbers were over 35 feet long. Somehow, it was all miraculously hauled from its original location on the steep four-wheel drive road with a dozen switchbacks, to the present site. Then, like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, was “put together again”! The unique “double-dovetail” corner joinery of the original Caledonian building, can be seen from the outside on one corner of the building, after you exit the museum.
A scale model of the Caledonian Boarding House as it stood in Minnie Gulch, as well as photos of the building before and during its removal to Silverton, can be seen in the front part of the museum building. Another display case in this part of the museum contains the rifle and many other artifacts which belonged to George Howard, a very early pioneer in this area. In another room is a display of antique musical instruments.
Up the Caledonian staircase (the original) is the Tommy Savich Museum, two rooms of memorabilia Tom collected during his lifetime (1923-2003) in Silverton.
Tom graduated from the local high school in 1943, then joined the U.S. Army (World War II). He took part in the assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France. He was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic achievement in Germany, although he seldom mentioned it, and most of his friends didn’t even know. Coming back to Silverton in 1945 he worked as a heavy equipment operator, and later worked at the Mayflower Mill. He was a walking encyclopedia on the subject of sports and statistics and was also dedicated to Silverton’s Hillside Cemetery and “checked it” several times daily for many years.
At the other end of this floor of the museum is an impressive display of pot-bellied stoves.
You will find it worthwhile to carefully investigate each room and its contents. Enjoy!!!
Mining Heritage Center
San Juan County
To contact us:
Museum: 970-387-5838 (summer)
San Juan County Historical Society
P.O. Box 154
Silverton, Colorado 81433
Copyright © San Juan County Historical Society