AS COORS CELEBRATES ITS 150TH ANNIVERSARY IN SEPTEMBER, IT’S FUN TO TRAVEL BACK TO THE GOLDEN OF 1873 

It was in 1873 that a young immigrant from Barmen, Germany discovered some natural springs in Golden, Colorado and with a partner, bought an old tannery and began to brew a pilsner style beer from a Czech recipe.  His name was Adolph Herman Joseph Coors and 150 years later, the brewery he founded is the largest single site brewery in the world, producing some 11 billion cans of beer a year.

On Sept. 30, 2023, Coors will celebrate their 150TH anniversary. But what to do until then? It’s a fun day trip activity to time travel back to 1873 and see what Golden was like when Adolph Coors first started his brewery.  Here’s some suggestions.

  1. View of peaks to plains trail in Clear Creek Canyon The Peaks to Plains Trail.  In 1873, Golden was known as “the last flat piece of land before the mountains.”  As such, it became a business and supply center for prospectors and miners traveling up Clear Creek Canyon to the gold fields in Black Hawk and Central City.  Today, you can travel the same path they did for 1.75 miles, walking or biking beside the beautiful river up into the sheer rock walls of the canyon.  Originally wagons and mules took this route and then in 1872, the Colorado Central Railroad built a narrow gauge rail line up the canyon.  Today, Hwy. 6 follows the old railroad route.  On the way up the canyon, a hiker’s only trail follows an old aqueduct carved out of the side of a cliff.

  2. Colorado Railroad Museum. In 2023, you can not only travel the landscape of 1873, but you can also ride in authentic narrow gauge rail cars pulled by coal burning steam locomotives.  The largest railroad museum in Colorado overlooks Coors Brewery and has locomotives, cars, a roundhouse, indoor and outdoor model trains and train rides around a half mile circle of track.  At the museum, you can see one of the original Coors Beer refrigerated cars and look down on the brewery’s own railroad which brings in grain and ships out beer.  Adolph Coors came to America as a stowaway on a ship in 1868 and traveled across America on trains very similar to those in the museum.  At one point, he even worked as a fireman shoveling coal into steam engines.

  3. Golden History ParkGolden History Park.  Located in downtown Golden along the banks of Clear Creek, the park features numerous picturesque 1870’s cabins, a working black smith shop, chicken coop (where you can feed the chickens for a quarter) and a schoolhouse.  The buildings were originally built up in Clear Creek Canyon and were moved to their current location to create a glimpse of what life was like 150 years ago.  The Reynolds Cabin was built in 1873 – the same year Coors started his brewery.  Special programs throughout the year offer a glimpse of how rough life was on the Colorado frontier.

  4. Golden History Museum.  This free museum (located across Clear Creek from the History Park) is ground zero for all things history in the region. Through 15,000 artifacts, photos and paintings and a year-long series of events, lectures and programs, the Golden History Center tells the amazing story of this pretty little town nestled in Clear Creek Valley.  Did you know that Golden was an early “Hollywood” and the site where many silent films were made?  Or that incline tourist railways use to run up South Table Mountain and Lookout Mountain?  Adolph Coors would have seen both.  The center also has many exhibits about the history of Coors Brewing. Currently the museum has a special exhibit on another famous product that originated in Golden – Jolly Rancher Candy.  

  5. The Old Capitol of Colorado Territory.  When Adolph Coors first arrived, Golden was the Capital of the Colorado Territory, and a saloon owned by William Loveland served as the first capitol building.  The Colorado Territorial Legislature met here until 1876 when Colorado become a state, and when (some say) Denver bribed some officials to become its capital.  Today, this lovely historic building is the Old Capitol Grille and Smokehouse, featuring BBQ, Bison burgers and burritos.  Belly up to the historic bar and order a Barmen Pilsner.  This rare Coors beer is only available in Golden and a few other places.  Named after Adolph’s home town of Barmen, Germany, it is a slow pour pilsner served in a special glass.  It takes seven minutes to pour the foamy and delicious beer, which is also available in Golden at Table Mountain Inn, Indulge Bistro, and Fossil Trace Golf Course.  William Loveland was one of Golden’s most prominent citizens and would certainly have known Adolph Coors.  His first home, the 1859 Loveland Cottage, is Golden’s oldest building and still standing at 717 12th Street.  

  6. minesColorado School of Mines.   This famous college opened in Golden in 1872, and as a Golden resident, Adolph Coors would certainly have been aware of its museum.  Professor Arthur Lakes discovered the world’s first fossilized dinosaur bones at Dinosaur Ridge just south of Golden, and put them on display. The dinosaur bones were a worldwide sensation. Today, the free School of Mines Museum has some 60,000 items ranging from precious minerals and samples of Colorado gold to actual moon rocks collected by Apollo 17.  Inside, there are murals, mining exhibits and a treasure of gold, silver, and precious minerals and gems.  Outside, there’s an outdoor geologic trail that winds past seven outcrops with various geologic and paleontological points of interest, including fossilized dinosaur tracks.  It’s hard to believe that right in downtown Golden, there were once dinosaurs walking around palm trees.  The free museum is open seven days a week and has a gift shop that will help young rock hounds get started on explorations or even pan for gold.

  7. Golden City Brewery.   The Golden of 1873 was still the Wild West.  Vanover Park in Golden is named after Edgar Vanover, a desperado who was hanged by outraged citizens at this spot in 1868.  Also in 1868, Outlaw “Heartless” Edward Franklin of the notorious Musgrove Gang was cornered and shot by police officers in front of what is now the Buffalo Rose restaurant. But by the Victorian era, Golden settled down and became gentile.  The Golden History Center has a self-guided History Walking Tour that will take you to many historic buildings that Adolph Coors would have known well.  Of particular interest to beer drinkers is the brick Italianate house at 920 12th Street, today best known as the Golden City Brewery.  It was one of Colorado’s first microbreweries Welcome Arch - Downtown Goldenfounded in 1993.  The brewery is in the backyard of the owners, Charlie and Janine Sturdavant, who still live here and sell beer from their old carriage house.  Golden now has nine craft breweries and two distilleries – a fact that would no doubt make Adolph Coors proud.

  8. The Adolph Coors Statue & Welcome Sign.   No trip to Golden is complete without a selfie with the statue of Adolph Coors with the Golden Welcome sign in the background.  The statue is appropriately in front the building that was the Colorado Territory Capitol when Adolph first came there in 1873 and is located at 12th and Washington Ave.  The Welcome Arch was first put up in 1948 and appropriately says, “Welcome to Golden, Where the West Lives!”  A sentiment that was as true in 1873 as it is today.

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