Central City, Colorado

Central City, Colorado

Best Known For:
Events, Casinos, Mining, History, & Opera!

Year Established: 1859

Population: 650

What are the most interesting facts about Central City?

Central City is so steeped in history, we can't pick just one!

Central City was one vote away from becoming Colorado's state capital.

In 1859, John Gregory discovered "The Gregory Lode" in a gulch in Central City. Within two weeks, the gold rush was on and within two months the population grew to 10,000 people in search of their fortune.

 In one year alone - 1861 - Central City recorded 217 fist fights, 97 revolver fights, 11 Bowie knife fights and one dog fight. Amazingly, no one was killed.

Central City is known as "The Richest Square Mile" because of the quantity of gold that was discovered and mined here.

In 1871 the Republican Convention turned rowdy when the second floor of Washington Hall collapsed and deposited 200 (uninjured) men into the Recorder's Office on the first floor.

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 those buildings are still standing today.

The grand opening of the Central City Opera House in 1878 started a tradition of community theater, from opera to vaudeville. Buffalo Bill performed there as well as P.T. Barnum's circus performers. Western movie star, Tom Mix, made some of his films in the Central City area, and Baby Doe Tabor, wife of the silver magnate Horace Tabor, once resided in our famous town.

Central City is located in the Rocky Mountains 35 miles west of Denver.

It is at the southern end of Gilpin County at an elevation of 8,496 feet.

According to geologists and experienced miners, there are over 17,000 mining claims in the southern end of Gilpin County.

The deepest mine in this area is reported to be well over 2,000 feet.

In June, the hillsides and yards are brightened by the yellow Harrison roses, reputedly brought over from Cornwall, England.

Gold mining in the Central City district decreased rapidly between 1900 and 1920, as the veins were exhausted. Mining revived in the early 1930s in response to the increase in the price of gold from $20 to $35 per ounce, but then virtually shut down during World War II when gold mining was declared nonessential to the war effort.

Does your community have any famous figures associated with your community?

Some of the famous people associated with Central City include:

Clara Brown - a former slave from Virginia who became a community leader, philanthropist and aided settlement of former slaves during the time of Colorado's Gold Rush. Brown was born in Virginia in 1800.

Marie Curie - used pitchblende mined in an area south of the Glory Hole mine near Central City for her radium studies in Paris.

William Byers - founder of the Rocky Mountain News

Florence Sabin - a public health practitioner who lived in the mining camp and was among one of the first female doctors in the west.

John B. Stetson - manufactured the first Stetson hat here.

William Lewis Douglas of W.L. Douglas Shoes - still known for their outstanding wear and durability, the shoes were first manufactured here.

What are the biggest events in Central City?

Madam Lou Bunch Day - This annual event occurs every June in honor of the gold mining days of the city. The celebration includes a presentation on the history of the town during the Gold Rush, live music entertainment, a parade, and the famous bed races. The day ends with the Madams' & Miners' Ball (21+).

Stills in the Hills - 2017 marks the 5th year of this annual event in which Main Street traffic shuts down and establishments open their doors. Vendors, art, food, live music, dancing, and over 100 spirits to try make this an event where there is something for everyone!

Beat the Heat Wing-Fest - Join Central City this July for their 2nd annual Beat the Heat Hot Wing Festival, featuring the ever so popular hot wing eating competition. Enjoy fresh wings, entertainment, beverages for all ages and much more!

Great Central City Beer Fest - Committed to delivering a great experience every August, one pint at a time. Loads of food vendors serving up fantastic dishes, a variety of art vendors with their products along the street to view and purchase, and of course are fantastic featured music groups will be playing throughout the day! 18 breweries will be on hand to serve you up a cold one.

Cemetery Crawl - Step back in time and hear the stories of those who lived and died in Gilpin County at the annual Cemetery Crawl where the dead once again come alive.

Hot Rod Hill Climb - Hot Rod Hill Climb is a throwback to the 1950’s where Hill Climbs were sprouting up all over the United States. It's all about the “Good Old Days” and the passion to re-live an era gone.

Creepy Crawls - Take the opportunity each October to visit historic buildings in Central City (some of which are off-limits the rest of the year) and see live, reenactments of murders, ghost stories, and other gruesome tales from Central City's past.

Tommyknocker Craft Fair - Looking for the perfect homemade, one-of-a-kind gift for the December holidays? Look no further!

For a full list of Central City's exciting and unique events, CLICK HERE.

What should visitors learn about or discover in your community?

Central City may have a small population, but we're big on everything else! History buffs can enjoy a variety of tours including cemeteries, gold mines, and our historic downtown. Art galleries, the Central City Opera, shopping, and other entertainment are available in spades. Speaking of spades, casinos and gaming are alive and kicking in this Old West town. Try your luck in one of our many establishments! If you're looking for adventure, outdoor hiking, a variety of trails (OHV, 4x4, etc), gold metal water fishing, camping, and incredible views are all just steps away.

Where would you take someone on a first date in Central City?

I'd stop by Dostal Alley Brew Pub for some delicious food and a Great American Beer Festival award winning brew, followed by a show at Central City Opera.

What initiatives is your community currently working on?

We have so much that we're working on in Central City. Just to name a few we are currently working on community development, historic preservation, growing our Main Street Program (Main Street Central City), our social media presence, and community engagement.

Which superhero would help most in your downtown efforts?

Captain America's strength and passion for the American community, paired with The Flash's speed.

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