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Central City Colorado Townsite - Ghost town

Photos courtesy of Mike Sinnwell January 2006

Central City Colorado is known as the riches square mile on the Earth. Central City was one of the first Ghost towns I visited in Colorado. That is almost 30 years ago. It has changed since then as limited stakes gambling started here in October of 1991. There is still plenty to see as most of the growth and new casinos were built just a mile down the road in Black Hawk. Central City is only a mile away from Black Hawk but it is 500 feet higher in elevation.

PS - don't believe the stories about the face on the barroom floor. Yes, the face is there. No, the stories of how it got there are not true. Read the poem below.

The Face Upon The Floor

Hugh Antoine D'Arcy

'Twas a balmy summer evening, and a goodly crowd was there.

Which well-nigh filled Joe's bar-room on the corner of the square;

And as songs and witty stories came through the open door,

A vagabond crept slowly in and posed upon the floor.

"Where did it come from?" someone said, "The wind has blown it in."

"What does it want?" another cried. "Some whisky, rum or gin?"

"Here, Toby, sic him, if your stomach's equal to the work -

I wouldn't touch him with a fork, he's as filthy as a Turk."

This badinage the poor wretch took with stoical good grace;

In fact, he smiled as though he thought he'd struck the proper place.

"Come, boys, I know there's burly hearts among so good a crowd

To be in such good company would make a deacon proud."

"Give me a drink -- that's what I want -- I'm out of funds, you know;

When I had cash to treat the gang, this hand was never slow.

What? You laugh as though you thought this pocket never held a sou!

I once was fixed as well, my boys, as anyone of you."

"There, thanks; that's braced me nicely! God bless you one and all!

Next time I pass this good saloon, I'll make another call.

Give you a song? No, I can't do that, my singing days are past;

My voice is cracked, my throat's worn out, and my lungs are going fast."

"Say! Give me another whisky, and I'll tell you what I'll do

I'll tell you a funny story, and a fact, I promise, too.

That I was ever a decent man not one of you would think;

But I was, some four or five years back. Say, give me another drink."

"Fill her up, Joe, I want to put some life into my frame --

Such little drinks to a bum like me are miserably tame;

Five fingers -- there, that's the scheme - and corking whisky, too.

Well, here's luck, boys! and, landlord, my best regards to you!"

"You've treated me pretty kindly, and I'd like to tell you how

I came to be the dirty sot you see before you now.

As I told you, once I was a man, with muscle, frame and health,

And, but for a blunder, ought to have made considerable wealth."

"I was a painter -- not one that daubed on bricks and wood

But an artist, and, for my age, was rated pretty good.

I worked hard at my canvas and was bidding fair to rise,

For gradually I saw the star of fame before my eyes."

"I made a picture, perhaps you've seen, 'tis called the 'Chase of Fame.'

It brought me fifteen hundred pounds and added to my name.

And then I met a woman -- now comes the funny part --

With eyes that petrified my brain, and sunk into my heart."

"Why don't you laugh? 'Tis funny that the vagabond you see

Could ever love a woman and expect her love for me;

But 'twas so, and for a month or two her smiles were freely given,

And when her loving lips touched mine it carried me to heaven."

"Did you ever see a woman for whom your soul you'd give,

With a form like the Milo Venus, too beautiful to live;

With eyes that would beat the Koh-i-noor, and a wealth of chestnut hair?

If so, 'twas she, for there never was another half so fair."

"I was working on a portrait, one afternoon in May,

Of a fair-haired boy, a friend of mine, who lived across the way,

And Madeleine admired it, and, much to my surprise,

Said that she'd like to know the man that had such dreamy eyes."

"It didn't take long to know him, and before the month had flown

My friend had stolen my darling, and I was left alone;

And, ere a year of misery had passed above my head,

The jewel I had treasured so had tarnished, and was dead."

"That's why I took to drink, boys. Why, I never saw you smile!

I thought you'd be amused, and laughing all the while.

Why, what's the matter, friend? There's a teardrop in your eye,

Come, laugh, like me; 'tis only babies and women that should cry."

"Say, boys, if you give me just another whisky, I'll be glad,

And I'll draw right here a picture of the face that drove me mad.

Give me that piece of chalk with which you mark the baseball score --

You shall see the lovely Madeleine upon the bar-room floor."

Another drink, and with chalk in hand the vagabond began

To sketch a face that well might buy the soul of any man.

Then, as he placed another lock upon the shapely head,

With a fearful shriek, he leaped and fell across the picture -- dead.


A viewer provides these winter time photos. - THANKS to Harry Frank

A Historical Questions from a viewer June 6th 2013. -- In riding to the area above Central City there is a large abandoned (1947) mine on the crest of a ridge. How was the gold ore transported DOWN the mountain to be rinsed or how was water transported UP the mountain to wash the ore. There is no evidence of tracks, road bed (down) or pipes (up). Water, of course, is required to separate rock from gold flakes, nuggets.

Rocky responds - via iPhone - Jeff there was a series of railroad tracks and railroad cars ran all way from Nevada Ville on down into central city plus connecting to almost all of the mines in that area. I can give you more details once I return home I am in the mountains working on a preservation project

Jeff comments - Thank you the answer. I love railroad history, and looked hard and long for evidence of narrow gauge, or any gauge, track beds and saw virtually no evidence of anything that would indicate a railroad in the last 70 years. Something as complex and large as a railroad should have left some evidence, but I could see none! The mystery deepens! Do you know what railroad(s)? Now I really want to go back with a vengeance and find the lost iron roads!!

After Rocky gets home. -- Jeff, It was a combination of Tunnels, narrow gauge rails and a tramway system. The tramway was built and maintained by the Gilpin Tramway Company or sometimes it was referred to as the Gilpin Gold Train. I believe it was used until 1910. Most of it was torn down over the years for a variety of reasons. During prohibition for the bootleggers, during the 1st and 2nd World War for the metals to build ships and planes. Also the Argo Tunnel was built in the 1890’s to drain the water from the mines and to haul the ore. The tunnel originally named Newhouse tunnel, extends from Nevadaville to Idaho Springs. It took 16 years to build. It starts at a depth of about 1300 feet and when it was in use it had two sets of tracks and electric engines hauled the ore cars. I believe it collapsed in the 1940s and then was never reopened.  This should be enough information to get your research started.

A viewer writes - Tuesday, April 07, 2015 - Mike, I scrolled on down and came to this part of the blog. I have to check with my hubby, whose memory is as poor as mine or worse, but when we lived on Wall Street in Idaho Springs, he worked at the Safeway Store on Main Street and he met a lot of neat people and a few characters. One of these was the watchman for the Apex Mine and my husband was taken back into the mine tunnel in a canoe or some similar conveyance, not too far, because of the danger of the water in the underground lake from which the water was dripping to the tunnel, breaking through and flooding. We owned mining property on the most western end of Central City limits on Eureka Street and spent a lot of time exploring mine sites. Our land had the Gold Crown mining operation on it and the Lake Superior mine where Cornish miners were killed. I wish I had written our stories down as I have been ill and my memories have become obviously muddled, so that I do not trust them, so I hope I am not leading anyone astray. Thank you for your site, enjoy it so when Google takes me to it.