Welcome to the
Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties, Colorado
History Page

Why are Clear Creek County and Gilpin County sharing a page?


(To make corrections to this brief history please contact us. We need all the help we can get :-)
Clear Creek County and Gilpin County are two, very small, adjacent counties that share a great deal of joint history in the mining territories of the Colorado Front Range. In early Jefferson Territory (as the area as called before it became the Colorado Territory) these two counties were briefly a single county called Mountain County. The first state legislature split Mountain County into

There are four notable population areas remaining from the days of mining in Clear Creek County: Georgetown-Silver Plume, Empire, Lawson-Downieville-Dumont, and Idaho Springs. Today only Georgetown and Idaho Springs have more than a handful of people.

According to the Colorado School of Mines Map Room database, the following mining districts exist or existed in Clear Creek County: Alice (Lincoln, Yankee), Argentine (West Argentine), Banner, Canon, Dailey (Atlantic), Empire (Upper Union), Geneva Creek (Collier Mountain), Gold Dirt, Griffith (Georgetown, Silver Plume, Queens), Idaho Springs (Virginia Canyon, Paynes Bar, Spanish Bar, Jackson Bar, Corral, Cascade, Democrat, O'Hawa), Mill Creek, Montana (Lawson, Dumont, Downieville), Morris, Nevada, Trail Creek (Freeland, Lamartine), Union (Lower Union), Upper Fall River.

Gilpin County has only one remaining significant population center: the Central City-Blackhawk area. Blackhawk and Central City had both become near ghost towns until the state approved limited gaming (i.e., low stakes gambling) in about 1990 - the first casino opened in 1991. Since then both towns have boomed, but not with as much consideration for their historical roots as many local residents would have liked. Virginia Canyon, historically considered part of Clear Creek County, but really the link between the two, today is the primary fair-weather route between Central City and Idaho Springs, and many employees of the casinos in Central City and Blackhawk live in Idaho Springs and use Virgina Canyon as their primary commute route. (The west end of Virginia Canyon is Idaho Springs, in Clear Creek County.)

According to the Colorado School of Mines Map Room database, the following mining districts exist or existed in Gilpin County: Central (Black Hawk, Central City, Nevada, Gregory, Russell Gulch, Quartz Mountain), Independence (Perigo), Pine (Kingston, Apex), Bay State, Enterprise, Eureka, Fairfield (Fairview), Hawkeye, Illinois Central, Kansas, Lake Gulch, Mountain House, Phoenix, Pleasant Valley, Quartz Valley, Silver Lake, South Boulder, Union, Vermillion, Wisconsin.

There is little history in either county that is not related to this shared mining background, and many of the early miners moved back and forth between the ends of Virginia Canyon, going to the hot springs at Idaho Springs or to the dance halls of Central City. Even today the economies of the two counties are intertwined.


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