In 1858, discovery of gold in the Pike’s Peak region of the Colorado territory sparked one of the biggest gold rushes in American history. Nearly 100,000 gold seekers arrived in search of the magnificent mineral to strike it rich. These ambitious aspirants came from all walks of life and religions, including Catholicism, which was established in the area through the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.
During the Pike’s Peak gold rush, the town of Georgetown was founded by two prospector brothers, George and David Griffith. After several attempts, the Griffith’s discovered gold along Clear Creek and built a cabin at their campsite. As the mining town grew, the Civil War raged on in the East, preventing more would-be prospectors from joining their movement. Ironically, it wasn’t until the discovery of silver in 1864 that generated another rush, and Georgetown prospered.
Georgetown was officially incorporated in 1868, and by then, the basis for Our Lady of Lourdes is believed to have been formed. Several Christian denominations had also staked their claim in the burgeoning mining town with Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians all building places of worship between 1864 and 1874.
When Our Lady of Lourdes was established, Catholicism was a heavily marginalized religion in America. In the 1840s, the influx of Catholic immigrants – especially Irish – resulted in a surge of nativism in the primarily Protestant nation. Perhaps the pastor that wound up in Georgetown was also looking for freedom – not only financially – but in faith. Today, Our Lady of Lourdes remains an active parish.