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The third landmark in Silver Cliff

Article by Hal Walter

Musuems – May 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine

Really, there are only three landmarks in the Wet Mountain Valley town of Silver Cliff. Two are taverns; the other, the Silver Cliff Museum.

If you happen to stumble out of the Silver Dome or Clever’s on a bright summer afternoon and need a sobering thought, walk — don’t drive — down the road a block or two to the museum. Author John K. Aldrich, who wrote Ghosts of the Sangre de Cristo Area, said the Silver Cliff Museum was one of the best he’d seen.

This building served as town hall and firehouse from 1879, when Silver Cliff was on its way to becoming the third-largest city in Colorado, to 1959, when Silver Cliff was…well, quite sleepy.

I don’t know, but I’ve been told the first floor houses the old fire engine from the early days. Also there’s a collection of old newspapers that visitors may leaf through for a fee. Otherwise, entry to the museum is on a donation basis.

As you head upstairs to the second floor, you can gaze at photos of early-day Silver Cliff. On the second floor, you can feast your eyes upon mining stuff — including ore samples and a complete listing of area mines and what they produced. There’s also a fine collection of period clothing and some Civil War items.

Hours are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sundays between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

THE AREA’S OTHER MUSEUM at the old Westcliff Schoolhouse (note the e-less spelling — the mason who carved the sign could spell better than the town founders) will be closed this summer for renovation. The schoolhouse is next to the town park, south of Highway 69.

When the schoolhouse re-opens in 1995, visitors will be treated to a photo exhibit chronicling area history, along with a film, “Custer County in Retrospect.”

While the Westcliff Schoolhouse is being remodeled, historical tours of the Wet Mountain Valley will be offered. Call Irene Francis at 719-783-9453 for details.

Hal Walter, who lives and writes in Custer County, may someday manage to get into the museum.