TO SILVER CLIFF,
Cliff is a small town, pop. 587, located
in the Wet Mountain Valley in south-central Colorado in Custer County. Located
along State Highway 96 at an elevation of 7,982 feet, Silver Cliff has spectacular
views of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains and retains a small-town atmosphere.
CLIFF, COLORADO, IN THE BEAUTIFUL WET MOUNTAIN VALLEY SITS BETWEEN THE SANGRE
DE CRISTO MOUNTAINS AND THE WET MOUNTAI|
Cliff, once a silver boom town, is located in the Wet Mountain Valley. The first
permanent settlers arrived in the valley in 1869. The following year a colony
of more than 100 German families from Chicago took up homesteads in the valley.
The search for mineral wealth would soon bring prospectors into the region. The
mining boom near Rosita created a demand for a new county and Custer County, named
from General George Armstrong Custer, was created in 1877 from what had been part
of Fremont County. The town of Ula was the first county seat. A few months later
Rosita became the county seat.
Cliff came into being when silver was found on a sheer cliff beside the present
location of the town. In June 1878, it was discovered the dark greasy-looking
rock, when melted, turned out to be 75% silver and was given the name horn silver.
Silver Cliff's "boom" then began.
Cliff became an incorporated town in February 10, 1879. The Silver Cliff Town
Hall and Fire House constructed in 1879 and early 1880 held the first town meeting
in the new town hall on April 10, 1880.
CLIFF IN 1894
Cliff is indicative of the "boom and bust" cycle that was typical of
many Colorado mining communities in the late 19th century. Perhaps the best description
was provided by Crofutt, in his 1881 Grip-Sack Guide, who described
Silver Cliff as "the infant of September 1878, the mushroom of 1879, and
the giant of 1880." By 1881, estimates of the number of people living in
Silver Cliff ranged from 6,000 to 16,000. The official census, conducted in June
1880, listed a population of 5,040. This figure placed Silver Cliff as the state's
third largest city, behind only Denver and Leadville.
its large population, the terminus of the D&RG RR was placed a mile to the
west in 1881, securing the existence of Westcliffe. And by 1882, the process of
decline for Silver Cliff had begun. The mining boom was over, and with the closing
of mines and mills, businesses began to close and the population decreased. Many
businessmen and home owners put their buildings on rollers and moved them to Westcliffe.
Abandonment of a nearby railroad line in 1888 further isolated the town and by
1900, the official census records listed a population of 576.
TO LEARN MORE?
our Silver Cliff Museum page for more
on the town's history, or go to our
Resources page to learn more about what Silver Cliff has to offer.
Also learn more about our neighboring town of Westcliffe and Custer
County by visiting
Town of Westcliffe
CUSTER COUNTY SENIOR CENTER
can be found in Silver
Cliff in the same building as the Town Hall visit their