Saturday, June 20, 2009

Central City

Today's ride was to the now gambling town of Central City, Colorado. Located next to Black Hawk, Colorado which is another gambling town. Many more casinos in Black Hawk than in Central City which remains but a minor gambling location when compared to Black Hawk. The theory being that CO119 was the best road to get to the gambling towns and gamblers would get to Black Hawk first. They'd be lured in by the shiny lights and painted women and forgo going just a mile further to Central City!

Apparently, the situation was so bad that some casinos in Central City actually went broke! The city has since then built the Central City Highway off of the I-70 super slab in a bid to lure customers away from Black Hawk. Only time will tell if the huge investment in this really nice highway, will pay off or not. In the meantime, motorcyclists can enjoy this smooth highway into the gambling havens if they choose to not twist and turn their way there via CO119 from Golden.

In the meantime, the lack of major success of the casinos in Central City has sheltered the older buildings in the city from the ravages of "progress". It's one of the more well preserved western towns from back in the Gold Rush days. Sadly, most of the properties/buildings I saw were for sale, so the town's fortunes are still down.

My first stop was the Gilpin County Courthouse, a pretty imposing brick building on Eureka Street I think, near the Central City Opera House.

Gilpin County Courthouse 2009
For a photo of the courthouse Circa 1900
Go to DPL:Call# x-11585

Central City's Opera House, still in operation in 2009
For a photo of Central City's Opera House Circa 1880-1890
Go to DPL: Call# x-2868

Eureka Street 2009
For a photo of Eureka Street during 1893 Flood
go to DPL: Call# x-2612
For a photo of Eureka Street Circa 1958
go to DPL: Call# x-2635
The apparently unused Knights of Pythias building in Central City 2009
For a photo of Central City Knights of Pythias Circa 1934
go to DPL: Call# x-2601

Yep, another order I'd never heard of, here's what had to say about it:

The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization and secret society founded at Washington, DC on 19 February, 1864.

The Knights of Pythias was the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of the United States Congress. It was founded by Justus H. Rathbone, who had been inspired by a play by the Irish poet John Banim about the legend of Damon and Pythias. This legend illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honor and friendship that are central to the order.

Full wikipedia article here

No longer a bank, 2009
For a photo of the Colorado 1st National Bank Circa 1890-1910
go to DPL: Call# x-2502

Williams Stables Building 2009
For a photo of the Williams Stables 1940
go to DPL: Call# x-63083

For a photo of the abandoned Central City and Black Hawk Rail Depots Circa 1950
go to DPL: Call# Z-448

Not sure how these two depots ended up next to each other, I am guessing the towns moved them next to each other for preservation purposes? The building on the left houses the Central City Register, the second oldest continually published newspaper in Colorado according to the sign on the side of the building:

Next up was Central City's Nemesis, Black Hawk. The town is swarming with huge new buildings housing casino after casino. Not much left in terms of historical buildings I'm afraid. Here's a few though that remain:

For a photo of Black Hawk's Presbyterian Church Circa 1864
go to DPL: Call# chs.x4770
Today, the church is now Black Hawk's City Annex #1, the building next to it used to be a school and now houses the Black Hawk Police Department. See below signage:

I throw in the picture of the steel archway bridge below just because I happen to like such structures, no historical significance at all that I could find.

Black Hawk has changed quite a bit by 2009!
For a photo of A view of Black Hawk Circa 1942
go to DPL: Call# x-2062

I departed from Black Hawk around 1:00 PM or so using CO119, traffic was much lighter heading away from Black Hawk than it was going to it at this time of day.

On CO119, with Brigitta positioned looking back towards Black Hawk

I turned off of CO119 at the junction with US6 West to Idaho Springs. This is another beautiful motorcycling road with tunnels going through high rocky canyon walls created by Clear Creek.

The canyon walls created by Clear Creek, the steel netting on the left side is to prevent rocks from falling onto the highway.

A view of Clear Creek just before entering Tunnel #6 on US6 heading towards Idaho Springs

Tunnel #6

After an enjoyable ride on US6, it merges with I-70 westbound. Three miles later I was at Idaho Springs where I really found no historical looking buildings of any kind. Kind of dissapointing in a way. I headed back East using I-70 to get back onto US6, this time heading east. I took the turnoff for US40 and used this two lane highway as a more sedate and enjoyable way to get closer to Denver.

When I got to CO74, I took it towards the town of Evergreen and from that town continued on CO74 as it headed through the towns of Kittredge and Idledale. I twisted my way through Bear Creek Canyon and arrived at the town of Morrison. I took 6th avenue east out of Morrison, turning south on Kipling until I got to US285. From there it was the usual route to my home, the skies had remained overcast throughout the ride but I did not get rained on. Only 159 miles or so today, perhaps 5 hours of saddle time at most.

I hope you enjoyed the historical, then and now, view of both Central City and Black Hawk.


Steve Williams said...

Another excellent post Charlie. Route 6 looks a lot different there than it does here in Pennsylvania.

I'm fascinated by the changes in communities over time. Your work to show that is outstanding. We didn't have a gold rush here but during the logging boom a lot of places sprung up overnight and disappeared almost as fast.

Thanks for sharing this and allowing me to get some education along with my blog reading!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Rob said...

Your post on Central City was very informative and entertaining. When I lived in Lakewood, CO, I would drive this route all the time. There was a Casino up there that had Chicago style hot dogs with the florescent green relish which were great. Great memories!!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom);

What a great ride through history. You must spend hours researching this stuff! I had no idea these communities would have so many brick and stone buildings. Have you ever attended an event in the Central City Opera House? Were the tunnels on the highway originally built for trains?

Fondest regards,
Jack "r"

Jack Riepe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charlie6 said...

Steve, thanks for your kind words, from a real photographer like you it really means something.

Rob, thanks for reading my stuff, glad you liked it.

Jack, thanks for continuing to put up with my limited writing skills. As to your questions: No, never been to the opera. Yes, the tunnels in the rocks were originally built for trains to use. The dirt roads that are there now are remnants of the railbeds.

Charlie6 said...

Jack, one theory I have as to why these remote communities could "afford" to build brick and mortar vice wood: Gold, lots of it, until it ran out of course.

The Naked Truth said...

When I worked at BMW of Denver in the '90s, and Gates Tire Co. was still operational in Denver, they had the contract to develop a drive belt for the new BMW F650. Someone from Gates frequently brought in a wheel from their test bikes so we could mount a new tire. But they would never bring in the whole bike. It was hidden under a cloak of secrecy during development stages.

Charlie6 said...

Thanks for the info.