Howdy, folks, Welcome to Golden. “Where the West Lives,” announces the sign arching high above Washington (Main) Street. Named for area miner Tom Golden, the former capital of Colorado Territory (1862-1867) and current seat of Jefferson County, nestles in a picturesque valley at the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon.
Geography assures Golden’s uniqueness; its charming Victorian-era homes are conveniently connected to the metro area, yet seemingly a world apart. Sheltered by North and South Table Mountain and Lookout Mountain, Golden’s frontier ambiance appears certain to endure for generations.
As a 19th-century transportation hub, Golden kept the gold fields humming; as a manufacturing center, it produced copious quantities of cigars, candy, paper, brick, glass. Three flour mills processed wheat from nearby farms. The Colorado Central Railroad serving Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Central City, and Black Hawk made its headquarters here.
Porcelain, pottery, and drainpipe manufactured from premium clays, extracted from the rich strata found in nearby hogbacks, have brought the town considerable fame, while the sparkling waters of Clear Creek have helped make the Coors Brewing Company, the largest single-source brewery in the world, a major Colorado tourist attraction.
Another “must see” is the resting place atop Lookout Mountain of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, whose Wild West Show wowed the world during the late 1800s. Thrill-seeking cyclists from near and far also flock to Lookout Mountain’s slopes and those of sister peak Mt. Zion to challenge the slicing hair-pin turns of the infamous Lariat Loop Road.
As a vital cultural, academic, and research center, Golden is home to the highly regarded Colorado School of Mines; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, our nation’s foremost renewable-energy research and development facility; the Foothills Art Center; and the Colorado Railroad Museum. Also in Golden, the Colorado Scientific Society holds monthly meetings in the headquarters building of the Colorado Mountain Club.
Providing a portal to the Colorado of the late 1800s are Clear Creek History Park and Astor House, the first stone hotel built west of the Mississippi, while Heritage Square, a Victorian-style village, offers an amusement park, theater, alpine slide, and delightful boutiques.
Another landmark site is the Armory, the largest cobblestone building in the country. Readily harvested from local streambeds, cobblestones form the foundations, retaining walls, and porches of many local homes and buildings.
For those who love to get away to the mountains yet crave the cultural attractions of Downtown Denver, Golden’s idyllic setting provides convenient access to both via nearby I-70 and West 6th Avenue. In Golden, Colorado’s colorful past lives on even as its radiant future springs to life.