Colorado Gold Rush – The Gold Rush of 1859
Send in your tales so they can be shared
Many a tale is told, retold, embellished and preserved of events that took place during the Colorado gold rush of 1859. Just as the mine tailings throughout Gilpin County hold promises of undiscovered treasure, these tales hold historical treasures of their own.
According to Robert L. Brown, author of Central City and Gilpin County Then and Now, the chaotic years in what is now Gilpin County began in the winter of 1858 when a fellow by the name of George Jackson discovered gold in what is now Idaho Springs.
With nuggets in hand and the promise of more to be found, Jackson kept his own counsel, sat out the winter and waited for the spring thaws before venturing back into Clear Creek Canyon.
In March 1859, Jackson returned to the canyon in search of more treasure. Running low on supplies, he made the mistake of purchasing his goods in Denver and paying for them with gold dust and nuggets. Word spread through Denver like wildfire with droves of people following Jackson back to his claim—and the gold rush was on.
In late April 1859, a crude, redheaded Georgian fellow by the name of John Gregory heard of Jackson’s discovery and set off to find his own treasure. Upon reaching Clear Creek Canyon, rather than following Jackson’s lead up the south fork of Clear Creek, Gregory followed the north fork and ended up above present day Black Hawk in what is now known as Processor Gulch. On May 6, 1859, Gregory struck gold in decomposing quartz and discovered the first lode gold in the territory.
In a few short months, in what is now Central City, tents of early prospectors gave way to log-cabin homes and stores. By August 1859, more than 300 buildings clung to the hillsides of the surrounding mountains. Among those buildings were an assayer’s office, theater, bank and supply stores.
What is now Black Hawk also grew into a thriving town and by the mid-1860s the town had a church, school, meat market, candy store, post office and a number of saloons. From present day Nevadaville down the hill through Black Hawk, the place was abuzz with activity.
Now you have the history of the Colorado gold rush. Many of you already know most of the story. So why am I reiterating what you already know?
I want the tales of the people. I want to hear from you readers with tales to tell, tales of your grandparents and great-grandparents that they passed down to you. I know there is a treasure trove of such tales circulating among families in this area and I want to hear them.
Whether your stories are truthful or factual is not the basis for this column. There are plenty of great writers and resources available for those who want to learn the factual history of this area. I want the heartfelt, sometimes sad and sometimes funny, tales you heard on your grandpa’s knee.
One such tale I heard myself was that there was a time when Black Hawk and Central City shared a post office. As the tale went, during many a dark night the men from Black Hawk would go up the hill and drag the little building down the hill to Black Hawk only to have it stolen back by the men from Central City. Now, that is a funny tale. I do not know if it is true – but it is funny.
So, please send me your tales. If you do not want me to use your name, I will not. However, if you do not mind, I would like to tell the readers who sent the story and where they heard it. Do not worry about your writing skills. I can edit your stories and retain your voice and the integrity of the tale. Only you can tell the tale as you heard it.
I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your stories in the coming months.
This column is sponsored by Cholua Brothers Old Time
Coffee Store – Black Hawk.
Previously published in The Weekly Register-Call.
October 23, 2014
Maggie Magoffin is the author of a new book, Dead Man Walking, the first from a new series, Misadventures of the Cholua Brothers based on the 1800’s gold boom in Gilpin County with both fact and fiction. She is also the columnist for the Tailing Tales column each week in the Weekly Register-Call.
The beautiful portrait was done by Milda Pfleghardt of Reliving the Past studio in Central City, 303-582-3243.
October 22, 2014
Colorado Gambler– “Black Hawk – Fall celebration to promote a good book and a great cup of coffee”
Cholua Brothers book launch set for Nov. 1 – 2
The Cholua Brothers of the Cholua Bros. Mining Co., makers of high-altitude roasted and naturally flavored Colorado coffees, in Black Hawk, announced they will host a fall celebration to promote and launch their new book, Dead Man Walking, Book 1 of the new series, Misadventures of the Cholua Brothers.
Set during the 1800’s Gold Boom in Gilpin County, Colorado, the Misadventures of the Cholua Brothers follows Dane and Jake Cholua through hardships, challenges and romance in their never-ending quest to find gold. Implementing historical facts and adding a twist of wit and humor, historical fiction writer and columnist Maggie Magoffin brings to life the legendary ancestors of these two modern day, coffee slingin’ gold miners.