Those who have driven through or stopped in the town of Idaho Springs likely noticed a large, wooden water wheel that's visible right off of I-70. Around the holidays, it's even harder to miss, when it becomes adorned with twinkling lights or American flags, depending on the season.
But what's the story behind this long-standing Colorado landmark?
The Charlie Tayler Water Wheel has been around since 1893, but it was originally constructed at a different location than where it currently sits. The sturdy wheel is 30'-diameter and was built by Charles Tayler himself. Its purpose was a power source for a five-stamp mill at Tayler's gold mining claim on Ute Creek.
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Tayler was a unique character in Colorado history. The miner attributed his good health to the fact that he never kissed a woman or took baths. After Tayler passed away in 1939, the wheel was gifted to Idaho Springs by his estate.
In 1946, the historic mining memorabilia was moved to its present site off the interstate.
At this point, the wheel had fallen into disrepair. However, volunteers spent an estimated 3,800 hours restoring it during the spring and summer of 1988. The wheel was rededicated during Gold Rush Days on July 16-17, 1988.
Besides being able to see the wooden structure from the road, people can also walk on a paved path to get a closer look. This pathway is accessed from Harold A. Anderson Park. The Clear Creek Greenbelt trail to the wheel is only about 750 feet and is level the entire time. The closest you can get though is just across Clear Creek, approximately 60 feet away from the wheel. A stone marker featuring official signage and a small statue of Tayler's head can also be found at this scenic location.
Despite being more than a century old, the Charlie Tayler Water Wheel still turns today.

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