Tuesday, May 28, 2013


About a 40 minute drive west of Denver, lies what was once known as the Richest Square Mile on Earth - two tiny towns, adjacent to one another - Central City and Black Hawk, CO.
Central City was founded in 1859, during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, after a gold-bearing vein was discovered in Gregory Gulch between Black Hawk and Central City. Within two months many more veins were discovered and, by 1860, as many as 10,000 prospectors had flocked to the town.  There are said to be 17,000 old mining claims in the county.  Before you go hiking or exploring, check to make sure you're not trespassing - laws are strictly enforced.  Stay on trails and watch your footing (one of the deepest reported mines around the area is said to be 2,000 feet deep - they didn't just go into the sides of mountains), and definitely stay out of the old workings.
Marie Curie used to mine in an area south of Central City's Glory Hole Mine, for her radium studies in Paris; Dr. Florence Sabin lived in the Central City mining camp, and was the first female physician to graduate from John Hopkins University; and Baby Doe Tabor, wife of the silver magnate Horace Tabor, once lived in Central City and Black Hawk (http://www.centralcitycolorado.com/history.php).
In 1991, Colorado legalized gaming in three old mining towns (Cripple Creek, south of Denver, being the third), as well as the Reservation-run casinos throughout the state.  Every effort has been made to preserve the old buildings, while incorporating the newer casinos into the landscape.  Black Hawk, which is below Central City (and only separated by a mile) boasts 18 casinos - Central City has 8, many of which are housed in the original buildings of the little town.  Below is the interior of the Ameristar, in Black Hawk - living in Las Vegas, I can say (with a tiny bit of authority) that this could hold it's own on The Strip.
Gambler or not, there is plenty to take in around town...the Teller House Hotel was built in 1872, and said to have been the finest hotel west of the Mississippi.  In 1874 most of the buildings in Central City were destroyed by fire. The town was rebuilt, this time of brick and stone; most of these stand today, and are being/have been lovingly restored to their former glory.  The oldest operating Opera House in the United States today, is here - opened in Central City in 1878 (that would be the grand old building in the first photo of this post).
A walk through Central City is an easy little jaunt, though mostly uphill (at least one way - coming down's a breeze)...I made the loop through a light spring snowstorm to capture some of the "character" of town.  The charming Victorian house in the bottom left photo was for sale, and can be yours for only $199,000 - a hell of a deal!
Peek-a-boo, you!
One mile west of Central City (stay on the main drag, and it's at the top of the hill) lie three beautiful old cemeteries (Central City, Knights of Pythias, and the Catholic Cemeteries) with hundreds of ornate stone markers and intricate grill work, dating back to the 1860s - I walked in as far as my slick, leather cowboy boots and calf deep snow (from a prior storm) would let me get that day.
For those a little more adventurous, the mountaintop is dotted with a few more, harder to find, cemeteries - the larger, "rumored-to-be haunted" Masonic and Bald Mountain Cemeteries, to name a few...if you go, stop at the Visitor Center in Central City and ask directions.  All cemeteries are open to the public - visit and wander among the headstones for a poignant glimpse back at some local history, respectfully remembering that these are actual cemeteries that are still in use, to this day.
One of a few locomotives on display in Black Hawk - this one from 1896 actually ran through Clear Creek Canyon, from Golden to Central City, "back in the day".
An always breathtaking drive through Clear Creek Canyon (the towns can also be accessed by taking I-70 to the Central City Parkway) - this was the day after the light dusting of snow, and we were back to blue skies again.  The weather changes fast in CO - in fact, there's an old saying that goes, "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes".  Take a coat with you to the mountains on any given day (even in the summer - OK, make it a light jacket - Central City itself sits at 8,510 ft.) - you may not need it, but you don't want to be caught in those 15 minutes without it, either.

Hope you travel through the week safely...I have a recipe for sharing in a few.  Happy Tuesday - XOXO


Jackie said...

Wow, that sure is God's country...Beautiful Beautiful place! On my bucket list for sure!

DearHelenHartman said...

I just love going sight seeing on Tuesdays with you! I never even heard of these places and now I want to visit them.

My Garden Diaries said...

I have never been but boy do I want to go! That town is so darn charming! And the history! I can feel it through your photos...ain't nothing better than places like this!! And that is a deal!!! Gee! How cheap is that house and it is insanely beautiful in your picture!! SO nice to hear that they have preserved the old!!! Have a great week sweet lady!

Hindustanka said...

What a nice trip today, Tanya!
I liked that slightly gloomy look of the city.. may be it is because of the winter season there. Some of the houses reminded me those they show in Vampire diaries to picture past century.
Thanks for taking us along such interesting places :) Have a wonderful day!
Hugs to you!!!

Elisabeth said...

Wow! It looks like an amazing place. Those mines sound pretty deep though, I'd be scared of falling down into one hehehe Have a great week Tanya! xoxo

oldgreymare said...

You do such a great job sharing your love of CO. It really does make the reader desire to visit...

Hannapat said...

I am becoming quite fond of these little tuesday outings. You are amazingly informative gal and I love how you also tell me things I didn't know. You're super! ps loved going to vegas, sure is something for everyone xoxo

Dorthe said...

Dear Tanya,
when reading or hearing :Denver- I alwayes think of John Denver, I love his songs from back then :-)
Well he has nothing to do with this wonderful tour of yours, seing all from old mines,-now dangerous to come near- to new I`m sure very luxurious casinos, -hotels and old cemeteries of all kind...I`m glad you did not go to the haunted one,lol.
A beautiful landscape, and must have been a gorgeous experience.
Hugs and love from Dorthe

Maggie said...

Hi Tanya, catching up over here. Lovin' your travelogue of beautiful Colorado and all of it's feisty history! I have a friend in Denver I'm itching to visit her!

also loved reading your birthday post about your equally feisty dad, and may i say, I WANT his turquoise bracelet. Too cool for school!

Vicki Boster said...

Tanya- my goodness what a wonderful trip-- the photos tell a great story. You do such an amazing job with your travel stories--- I always feel like I just took a little tour myself!