Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Central City, Colorado

Central City was a gold-rush town, founded in 1859, the same year a gold-bearing vein was found in Gregory Gulch. The town's population quickly grew from 598 in 1860 to 2,360 in 1870.  Many Chinese lived and worked in Central City during the gold rush, but most returned to China afterward.  The population peaked in 1900 at 3,114, and then diminished rapidly after that as the gold was exhausted. In 1980, the population of Central City was only 329.

There are still some historic buildings in Central City, such as the Central City Opera House, which once hosted Buffalo Bill and Lillian Gish.  If you'd like to read more about Central City and its history, visit the Legends of America website.

The architect who steals my covers visited Central City in the 1980s. He said it was a beautiful place, albeit a ghost town. Gambling was introduced in the 1990s, bringing with it a lot of ugliness, including tour buses, traffic jams, and a four-lane parkway to transport gamblers from the Interstate. Tragically, the building height limitations on undeveloped land have also been eliminated, presumably to encourage the development of more casinos.  Previously the limitation was 53 feet, so as not to overshadow the quality of the historic town.

Here's another card, probably from the 1940s:

The back of the first card, the real-photo card, is very light, but the EKC on the stamp box indicates it was printed sometime between 1930 and 1950.


  1. When I first looked at it I immediately thought of Virginia City, Nevada. Old mining towns all have a similar thrown together look. The best one to visit is Bodie, California. But go in the spring or fall. Never ever ever in the summer.

  2. I prefer the look of 'arrested decay' in Bodie, but I'm sure you can only keep it in that state for so long before it really does decay. I wonder how they strike the balance between preserving and letting nature take its course.

  3. The mining towns look 'thrown together' because alot of them were- populations went from zero to thousands in a matter of weeks sometimes... Some places managed to foster a sense of civility and culture if they didn't bust too fast, building opera houses, fancy hotels and the like. One of my favorite old mining towns is Jerome, AZ, built on copper not gold, so perhaps not quite so chaotically developed by greed.

  4. For me, your postcards have become a delightful way of discovering America.



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