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The historic City of Black Hawk is a Home Rule Municipality located in Gilpin Countymarker, Coloradomarker, United Statesmarker. The city population was 118 at U.S. Census 2000, making Black Hawk the least populous city in Colorado. The tiny city is a historic mining settlement founded in 1859 during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. It is located adjacent to Central Citymarker, another historic mining settlement in Gregory Gulch. The two cities form the federally designated Central City/Black Hawk National Historic Districtmarker. The area flourished during the mining boom of the late 19th century following the construction of mills and a railroad link to Goldenmarker. The town declined during the 20th century, but has been revived in recent years after the 1991 establishment of casino gambling following a statewide initiative in 1990.


Mining boom

The town is located along the north fork of Clear Creek and Gregory Gulch. In May 1859 the discovery of gold in Gregory Gulch by its namesake, John H. Gregory, brought thousands of prospectors and miners into the area, combing the hills for more gold veins. The Bobtail lode was discovered the following month. Hardrock mining boomed for a few years, but then declined in the mid-1860s as the miners exhausted the shallow parts of the veins that contained free gold, and found that their amalgamation mills could not recover gold from the deeper sulfide ores.

Nathaniel P. Hill built Colorado's first successful ore smelter in Black Hawk in 1868. Hill's smelter could recover gold from the sulfide ores, an achievement that saved hardrock mining in Black Hawk, Central Citymarker, and Idaho Springsmarker from ruin. Other smelters were built nearby. Black Hawk's advantageous location on North Clear Creek made it the center of ore processing for the area, and it became known as the City of Mills.

The Colorado Central Railroad extended its line to the town in 1872. A restored depot and locomotive are on display on the east side of downtown. Black Hawk was also serviced by the two foot gauge Gilpin Tramway which climbed from Black Hawk to the mines above Central City. Many historic buildings in the town have been restored following the opening of the casinos in 1991.

Gambling boom

The town has been in heated competition for gambling revenue with the nearby town of Central Citymarker since casinos opened in both towns in 1991. Development of the area down Clear Creek from the historic Black Hawk townsite lining State Highway 119 has flourished. Gamblers from Denver pass the Blackhawk casinos before they arrive at Central Citymarker, and, as a result, Black Hawk has realized much more revenue from gambling than Central City. Gambling in Black Hawk also benefits from less restrictive building codes; while Central City until recently limited building heights to 53 feet to preserve the historic character of the town, Black Hawk has no such limits, and a 33-story Ameristar Casino is now under construction in Black Hawk. In an attempt to close the competitive gap, Central Citymarker built the Central City Parkway from I-70 near Idaho Springsmarker as an alternative route, leading guests first to Central City, and then to Black Hawk. The Parkway opened November 19, 2004. However, Black Hawk continues to have three times the number of casinos, and generates more than seven times the gambling revenue that Central City does.

Although the 1990 statewide referendum allowing casino gambling in Black Hawk was promoted as a way to promote historic preservation in Black Hawk, critics have charged that it has had the opposite effect, and that the historic appearance of Black Hawk has been sacrificed to allow construction of the large casinos.[16228][16229][16230][16231]


Black Hawk is located at (39.803149, -105.492265) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.5 square miles (3.8 km²).


Historic homes in the gulch above downtown Black Hawk

As of the census of 2000, there were 118 people, 54 households, and 28 families residing in the city. The population density was 80.9 people per square mile (31.2/km²). There were 79 housing units at an average density of 54.2/sq mi (20.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.75% White, 3.39% African American, 0.85% Native American, 5.93% from other races, and 5.08% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.17% of the population.

There were 54 households out of which 18.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.7% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.3% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.69.

In the city the population was spread out with 17.8% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 33.1% from 25 to 44, 34.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 131.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 131.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $44,583, and the median income for a family was $52,500. Males had a median income of $29,688 versus $20,833 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,985. None of the population and none of the families were below the poverty line.


Lace House, built 1860's, now a museum


Notable people born or residing in Black Hawk include:
  • Nathaniel P. Hill - Brown University chemistry professor, Black Hawk smelter magnate, U.S. Senator.
  • Frederick O. Vaille - founder of Denver Telephone Dispatch Company, sets the first direct line from Denver, Georgetown, and Idaho Springs to Black Hawk in 1879.
  • William Frederick Cody "Buffalo Bill" - briefly a resident of Black Hawk while searching for gold near the town for two months.
  • John H. Gregory - made famous first gold strike in north Clear Creek on May 6, 1859, later setting camps in Black Hawk.
  • William N. Byers - founder of The Rocky Mountain News who, after visiting nearby Central City, was credited with naming it. Since it was about halfway between Nevada City (Nevadaville) and Mountain City, he said it should be called "Central City."

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