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Monday, October 26, 2015

Central City, Colorado: the "Richest Square Mile on Earth"

Central City is located in the rough and rugged Rocky Mountains, 35 miles west of Denver. At an elevation of 8,496 feet, it stands ready to face the elements..
  
How did it all start? 
On May 6th, 1859, John H. Gregory found a gold-bearing vein in Gregory Gulch. By 1860, as many as 10,000 prospectors had flocked to the town, then known as Mountain City. This great influx of people was due the Pike's Peak Gold Rush, named for the not too distant mountain. 














The Gregory Lode was located between Black Hawk and Central City. Within two months, many other veins were discovered, including the Bates, Gunnell, Kansas, and Burroughs.

   

During the early days, many Chinese lived in Central City, working the placer deposits of Gregory Gulch. They were forbidden work in the underground mines. Most of them are believed to have returned to China after making their stake.

The year 1863 brought the first attempt by hard rock miners to form a hard rock miners' union. 


Of  the 125 miners signing a union resolution in Central City, fifty or so workers got out of hand breaking windows and doors at the Bob Tail mine. After a night of shooting and fighting, the union effort among Central City miners failed.

                                                   
                                     
                                                     Not everyone in Colorado struck it rich, but those who settled in Central City were never hard up for wild times. In 1861 alone Central City recorded 217 fist fights, 97 revolver fights, 11 Bowie knife fights and one dog fight. Amazingly, no one was killed. 

  
   In 1871 the Republican Convention was held in Central City. And even that turned rowdy when the second floor of Washington Hall collapsed and deposited 200 (uninjured) men into the Recorder's office on the first floor.
   Central City had its share of fame. In 1872 the Teller House Hotel was built, and was said to be the finest hotel west of the Mississippi River. In 1873 President Ulysses S. Grant came to see his friend Henry Teller and his new hotel. 

Unfortunately, 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.

       
The grand opening of the Opera House in 1878 began a tradition of entertainment ranging from opera to vaudeville. Buffalo Bill performed there as well at P. T. Barnum's circus. 




Over the years many movies have been filmed here; several by Cowboy Tom Mix as well as "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox", portions of the TV mini-series "Centennial" and "Dream West", and several Perry Mason episodes.

               
    Marie Curie used to mine in an area south of the Glory Hole mine for her radium studies in Paris. Public health practitioner Dr. Florence Sabin lived in the mining camp and was the first female physician to graduate from John Hopkins University. Baby Doe Tabor, wife of the silver magnate Horace Tabor, was another resident of Central City and Black Hawk.





 Around the card table, frontier gambler Poker Alice, a player and a dealer, could be found. 



    

   Gold mining in the Central City district decreased rapidly between 1900 to 1920, as the veins were exhausted, and then virtually shut down during World War II when gold mining was declared nonessential to the war effort. The district was enlivened in the 1950's by efforts to locate uranium deposits, but these proved unsuccessful.

   The 1900 census dwindled to 3,114 people, and in the last U.S. Census of 2010 the city population was only 663.                                                                           
                       
But while the gold in them there hills may have disappeared, the hope of gold on them there tables is still a draw at the casinos. 


                      Cody James, and Marshal Virgil Kincaid, 
                        enjoy a bit of poker and chance. 
                                     Check them out in 
                          
          A COWBOY'S FATE  SPECIAL DELIVERY




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