Central City, Blackhawk & Nevadaville History

In 1859 Gold was found in a big way. Several thousand prospectors in less than a month showed up. 30,000 in 2 months.  A camp called Gregory Diggings, then Mountain City which had a post office as of 1860 were all absorbed into Central City barely to the east of it.. Blackhawk was named after a mill there erected by the Black Hawk Company of Rock Island, IL. Black hawk had a lot more water than Central City, being on Clear Creek. It therefore had several mills and was known as the “City of Mills”. After the initial surface gold dried up, all that remained were complex sulfur ores. In 1867 the first smelter set up to concentrate and ship the ore. Blackhawk was always more of a mining, blue collar type town, where Central City was the “grand lady of the Rockies” with luxury hotels and an opera house. Both had plenty of gambling and brothels.

By the 1880s ore was being depleted and from there to World War ! it became a growing struggle to run then profitably. After WWI, most of the operations were dismantled and moved elsewhere, though some sort of mining still continued for years after. In 1896 , Rufus T. Owens started building a submarine in a shack in Central City. He completed it in 1898. He had it towed to Missouri Lake and thanks to his friends did not ride it on the maiden voyage, as it sunk like a rock. The lake was drained years later and it was found, left and the lake was refilled. Then sometime later it was dug out and it stored in a warehouse somewhere in Colorado.

In the 1950s it was revived as a tourism spot. In 1991, gambling was approved.

Notable sites:

Blackhawk’s Lace House built in 1863 still is in town, though it is not on its original site.

Also in Blackhawk, the 1863 Presbyterian church and 1870 Blackhawk Schoolhouse.  (on church st.). It was a school until 1960, stood vacant for 30 years, then became the police station. Just below these buildings is the main City Hall built in 1877. It used to house the fire dept on the 1st floor and city officials on the 2nd. There is a monument on the site where John Gregory first started it all by striking gold…4 miles west of Blackhawk and .6 east of Central city.

Central City’s Teller House was built in 1872 as one of the finest hotels. President Grant visited and stayed there in 1873. He walked across a set of pure silver bricks to enter from his carriage (gold was considered too common). The Opera House was constructed by Cornish masons in 1878 and has 750 seats. Thomas-Billings House built in 1874 next to the opera house. It was a wedding present from her (Marcia Billings) to them (&Ben Thomas).

Boodle Mill is across from cemeteries (area has 6 of areas 7 cemeteries).

I.O.O.F Cemetery then east to Red Man Lodge Cemetery behind that is Catholic Cemetery (Irish, German, Italian) the visible kiln thought to be for winter body storage when ground was frozen. Then across the road east to Knights of Pythias Cemetery.  Central City Cemetery adjacent, with oldest graves in the southeast area, then beyond that is the Ancient Order of the Forester Cemetery. On the other side of town, of course is the Masonic Cemetery.


Onaledge is a beautiful 4-story mansion in Manitou Springs. Besides the current family that lives there, there are several other residents, 5 additional, all ghosts.

Several years ago the previous owners, the Modings had bought the house and shortly after discovered, the “other residents”. After moving in, they proceeded to notice all sort of activity, opening and closing doors, lights going on and off. At that time, their nephew Wesley was 6 years old. He would walk around talking to someone named “stew” and initially the family thought “how cute, he has an imaginary friend”. She would here Wesley speaking to someone and go on her way, until one day she swore she heard a reply! Several repairmen came through during remodeling, and several swore never to return. They finally had a psychic visit and was told there were 5 spirits, the strongest being a miner, named “STEW”. Initially the previous owners admitted it made them uncomfortable but now the family has kind of enveloped the spirits as additional family members, often calling on the to help with a light or just tell them they’re there. Clothes move from drawers to the bed, a vision of a woman’s face appears in a framed picture. The family keeps a camera running in the carriage house, an unusually busy spot for spirit activity in the house and have caught several moving orbs on tape. The cleaning people claim to see a man standing on a ledge in the backyard as well as a lady in blue in the living room. There are also the spirits of 2 children thought to live there and can be heard laughing and flushing the toilet.


One hundred years ago, however, there was no Eastlake, Northglenn, or Thornton, just bare, desolate land used by the Indians.  Near the intersection of 144th and Colorado Boulevard lies “Eastlake Hill,” the highest point in Adams County.  Eastlake Hill was used by the Indians as a lookout.  On a clear day they could see two-hundred square miles of the surrounding area.

About 1901, the coal towns around northern Colorado were really booming and the Union Pacific Railroad decided they would need a line through this area.  So they went to the landowner and offered a deal.  The Union Pacific would lay out the town, that is survey, grade the street, mark the curbs, etc.  For this, they would have the “right-of-way” through his land.  Both parties agreed, but the Union Pacific were sly devils.  They knew that the horseless carriage was coming so, if they were to lay out the town west of the tracks, it would expand west and 11 the commerce who shipped out would be using the country road with their wagons, carts, and cars; but, if the tracks were laid east of the town, the town couldn’t go any further than the tracks, so shippers would use the railroad for their shipping.  This is the reason why Eastlake is the only town in the State of Colorado to be built off the county highway.

Most of the land around Eastlake is slowly becoming housing developments.  Thornton has annexed most of the land surrounding Eastlake and part of Eastlake, but the name will always be Eastlake, because when the previous owners set up the Eastlake Land Development Company, they put in a law stipulating that “whoever gets the Eastlake land in the future, the name Eastlake will always stay.” This is a law registered in the State House.