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Central City, Colorado

Central City's Population (2000): 515

Central City's Estimated 2004 Population: 486

Central City's Elevation: 8,496 Feet

Central City lies in Gilpin County

History of Central City, Colorado

The first mining claim in what was to become known as the "Richest Square Mile on Earth" was staked by a one John H. Gregory on May 6, 1859 in a gulch near what is now Central City. Word of Gregory's strike reached Denver by May 17th, and by May 23rd there were a total of 14 claims in the vicinity. News of the gold rush was first published in the May 28, 1859 edition of the Rocky Mountain News, and by the beginning of June several hundred claims had been staked. By July of the same year, over 20,000 people were working and living in and around Central City.

There's more than one legend regarding how Central City acquired its name, one of the stories being that the town was so named for being halfway between Nevada City and Mountain City. In any event, Central City became the seat of Gilpin County when that entity was formed in 1861, and Central was granted a charter by the Territorial legislature in 1864. The Teller House Hotel, reputed to be the finest such establishment west of the Mississippi at the time, was built in Central in 1872 and was visited by President Ulysses S. Grant the following year (Grant's friend Henry Teller would later become one of the first senators from the new state of Colorado).

Central City would continue to be one of the most important cities of Colorado, even after a fire in 1874 destroyed most of the buildings. The town which very nearly became the capital of Colorado would acquire an opera house in 1878, and this establishment would be a venue for acts like Buffalo Bill and P.T. Barnum's circus. Central's importance would even extend into the field of science, as Marie Curie mined south of the Glory Hole mine for her studies of radium.

Today in Central City, gold panning is still a favorite local activity (along with sports such as cross-country skiing and kayaking), but the town's current prosperity is owed to the introduction of limited-stakes gambling in the form of local casinos in 1991.



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