Colorado History and Genealogy Project





Black Hawk, Gilpin County Colorado, 1871

The first discoverers of gold in the mountains were the first citizens of Black Hawk. The growth of this town, and the portion of Central known as Mountain City, were simultaneous, and in the fall of 1859 their population was numbered by thousands. We have gathered data of many interesting incidents attending the early settlement of these rich mining localities, but space forbids their publication in our present issue, though we do not abandon the idea of giving publicity to the stirring events that characterized these early days in the history of the richest gold mining district in the world. Read more... Black Hawk Gazetteer or Black Hawk Business Directory.

Nearly every nationality in the civilized world, and every phase of human character were represented among the early miners that found their way into this mountain-locked mining camp. This conglomerate mass of humanity, gathered here from the four corners of the world, was without the usual local laws that govern communities, and remote from the moral and restraining influences of society and religious institutions. Besides this, they were engaged successfully in the most exciting pursuit in the world, gold hunting. It is not strange that, under such circumstances, much lawlessness should exist, and that scenes were enacted characterized by extraordinary recklessness and brutality. Crime walked abroad at noonday, and even murder did not seek the obscurity of night. Gamblers and robbers preyed upon the unsuspecting, and life and property were insecure. But this condition of things did not long exist. Among these pioneer miners were many men, good and true. These soon saw the necessity of organization for mutual protection, and, after effecting such crude organization as the circumstances would permit of, they determined to make themselves the enactors and administrators of laws, and the guardians of the public peace and safety. This was soon accomplished by establishing the Peoples' Courts. These enacted laws suitable to existing emergencies, and enforced them most rigidly. Justice demanded life for life, and the murderer was hung; and upon all other classes of criminals appropriate punishments were inflicted, and the conglomerate community freed from the grasp of lawlessness and crime. We have talked with prominent actors in these stirring scenes, who are now most excellent and influential citizens of the county, and heard from their own lips detailed accounts of bloody incidents, in which they were actors, thrilling in the extreme. Among these, we take pleasure in mentioning Capt. Hall, of Gilpin County, C. K. Fisk, Esq., formerly a resident of Russell Gulch, but now a prominent citizen of Georgetown. But space forbids further notice of these early days; suffice it to say, as early as 1860, law and order reigned over the mountains and valleys of Gilpin County.

The present governing powers of Black Hawk are the usual village authorities of Colorado, the chief power being vested in the police judge who is ex-officio mayor. There is, besides this officer, a marshal and his assistants, assessor and collector, street commissioner, etc., and a board of selectmen. As we have no recent data, we cannot give the names of these officers. In the fall of 1870, S. H. Bradley, Esq., was police judge, and we believe there has been no change since that time. No city in the world is more orderly; the administration of the laws is attended with no difficulty, and due attention paid to religious and moral observances by all.

Though Black Hawk is paved and surrounded by placer diggin's and gold mines, mining is not its principal industry. This is milling and reducing ores. The stamp-mills and reduction works, that are massed together here, are described in detail elsewhere, and in number and capacity exceed those of the balance of the county. The clang of ponderous machinery, and the fall of the ore-crushing stamps are heard incessantly, and the fires in Prof. Hill's smelting works are never quenched.

Another important feature of the industries of Black Hawk is the iron foundry and machine shop, owned by A. Gr. Langford. This manufacturing establishment is one of the most extensive in the Territory, and the work turned out, equal in strength, durability and finish to that of the largest Eastern works. Mr. Langford gives his undivided attention to his foundry, and is a thorough business man and competent mechanic. As a singular item of history, we can state truthfully, that all the iron used at this extensive manufactory, is from the broken-down engines, furnaces, retorts, etc., of played out reduction processes, and still a good supply is on hand. The amount of costly machinery sold for old iron, in the mining districts of Colorado, has been large, and still her gulches and ravines are unsightly with rusty shafts, and misshapen and broken wheels and engines.

The institutions of education and religion in this town are liberally sustained, and of course prosperous. A fine school-house, costing over 814,000, ornaments one of the mountain slopes that surround the city. The churches and religious institutions receive due notice elsewhere. The Masonic order, Odd Fellows and Good Templars are represented by prosperous lodges, and a base-ball club manages to find enough level ground in the vicinity to enable them to engage in this national sport.

We have no statistics showing the exact amount of ore crushed and reduced in Black Hawk, nor the amount of bullion produced; but these will be at at least one-half the entire amount reduced by Gilpin County, and the sum total of the result over $1,000,000.

The location of Black Hawk is peculiar. The site is "Y" shaped; the upper portions of the "Y," Gregory and Chase gulches, and the tail. Clear Creek valley. There is but little level space at any point, and the city is built irregularly along the gulches and against the mountain sides. Its appearance from one of the surrounding mountains is unique and peculiar, and though no features possessing beauty present themselves, the view is not without that undefined charm which characterizes all mountain towns. The tourist, who visits the mining districts, should not tail to remain a few days in Black Hawk. He will find good hotel accommodations with mine host of the St. Charles or Mountain House, either of whom will do everything in his power to ensure comfortable and pleasant accommodations to guests; and in the town and neighborhood are many objects of unusual interest. The exact spot where Gregory discovered gold will be pointed out; the richest and best improved gold mines in the Territory or the world are at hand, and innumerable mills and reduction works, accessible at all times. The cessation of operations of any magnitude on the Gregory and Bob Tail lodes has interfered materially with the prosperity of Black Hawk for a year or two. Nevertheless, her merchants and business men have fair prospects, and do considerable profitable trade.

Visitors to Black Hawk will find Dr. Garrott, one of the proprietors of the Polar Star Mills, Geo. E. Congdon, Esq., agent of the Black Hawk Company, B. F. Wells, agent of Smith & Parmelee Company, A. G. Langford, Esq., owner of Black Hawk Foundry, and Robert McCarroll, mine owner and contractor, gentlemen well posted in matters pertaining to this city, and ready to impart valuable information to all seeking such.

Among the merchants of the town, well worthy of patronage, are Orahood & Nesmith, and Ed. Seiwell, druggists; H. Vosburg, fruiter; G. B. Rudolph, jeweler; Warren & Scobey, wines and liquors; Ed. E. Hughes, butcher. Those who desire to patronize livery men, will find excellent turnouts and good saddle horses at the stables of the Germain Bros., on Gregory Street.


Black Hawk Gazetteer | Golden Business Directory

Rocky Mountain Directory & Colorado Gazetteer

Source: Rocky Mountain Directory and Colorado Gazetteer, 1871, S. S. Wallihan & Company, Compilers and Publishers, Denver, 1870.


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