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Central City

What do these photos tell you about why miners established mining towns?

1864 Overview Of Central City

This is a photo of Central City taken in 1864. It shows the main street of the town and houses on the hillsides.

1864 Overview Of Central City

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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Central City was one of Colorado’s first mining towns. It grew up in the gulch where John Gregory discovered gold in 1859. This photo was taken five years later. Take a look at the bare mountain behind the town. What do you think happened to the trees that once covered the hillsides?

Their Own Words

"This narrow valley is densely wooded, mainly with the inevitable yellow pine, which, sheltered from the fierce winds which sweep the mountaintops, here grows to a height of sixty or eighty feet, though usually but a foot to eighteen inches in diameter. Of these pines, log cabins are constructed with extreme facility, and probably one hundred are now being built, while three or four hundred are in immediate contemplation."

Source: Horace Greeley, An Overland Journey (New York: Knopf, 1964): 103-104.

1864 Street In Central City

This was a business street in Central City in 1864.

1864 Street In Central City

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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The merchants of Central City provided the local miners with the supplies they needed. Take a close look at this photo. What stores and other businesses can you find? What does the photo tell you about why mining towns existed?

Their Own Words

"I have not, as yet seen all of the city, it is scattered along the gulch, as far as I have seen, about two miles, quite compactly built; some very good log houses. We have some eight stores, many groceries, numerous bakeries, any amount of eating houses, one Masonic Hall and nary [a] church."

Source: P.P. Van Trees, quoted in Duane A. Smith, Colorado Mining: A Photographic History (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1977): 11.

1864 Street In Central City

This 1864 photo shows a street in Central City.

1864 Street In Central City

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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Take a close look at this photo as well. What businesses can you find in this photo? What does it tell you about why mining towns existed?

Their Own Words

"In the three weeks that we have been sojourners here there has been some three thousand persons arrived and they have built cabins in every nook and corner within five or six miles of us in every direction."

Source: David F. Spain to his wife, Arapahoe City, April 30, 1859; in John D. Morrison, ed., "The Letters of David F. Spain," Colorado Magazine, 35 (April, 1958): 106.