.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America

Walking Main Street in Gold Hill, Colorado

01 Gold Hill, CO

There are many mining towns in the Colorado Rockies, one of the most interesting being Gold Hill.  This town is located in the mountains northwest of Boulder at an elevation of 8,300 feet (2530 m).  A scenic drive, most of it on gravel roads, leads you through the transition of the great plains to the foothills, with the grand peaks of the Rockies visible at some distance to the west. 

Gold was discovered by a group of prospectors in a small stream near the town site in January 1859.  This stream was named Gold Run and in March of that year, the first mining district in the Nebraska Territory was created (Colorado had not yet been granted statehood).  The site and community built here became known as Gold Hill.  The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859 was on!

The original Gold Hill town site was sub-optimal because of lack of water so when a fire destroyed the town in 1860, those who remained moved to the current site to rebuild Gold Hill (many just left after the fire, as is so common in gold mining boom towns).

Main Street, Gold Hill

Main Street, Gold Hill

In 1872 a rich form of tellurium (combination of gold and telluride minerals) was discovered and miners again were drawn to the region. The town of Gold Hill prospered and a school, post office, general store, hotel and several boarding houses were constructed, as were a growing number of family cabins.  The population peaked at around 1500 during the late 19th century (currently there are just over 200 residents).

When mining production declined in the early 20th century,  so did the population of Gold Hill.  The Great Depression and World Wars added further stress on the population base.  Despite the hardships, the town has survived and draws to it a hardy group of residents who love the beauty and quiet of the area and relative simplicity and isolation of the place.  

Gold Hill Store

Gold Hill Store

When mining production declined in the early 20th century,  so did the population of Gold Hill.  The Great Depression and World Wars added further stress on the population base.  Despite the hardships, the town has survived and draws to it a hardy group of residents who love the beauty and quiet of the area and relative simplicity and isolation of the place.  

If you visit today, Gold Hill looks much like it would have a century earlier.  The buildings are mostly old log cabins, their cracks sealed with a muddy mortar. Paint is not a common sight and that was fine by me — the weathered logs were attractive in their own way.  There are no paved streets or traffic lights. The town contains numerous historic structures, most restored or maintained but some near ruin.  It has a small two-room schoolhouse, the Gold Hill School, which since 1873 has been the oldest continuously operating public school in Colorado. Other businesses include a General Store and a restored inn listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The winter weather is harsh so most people visit during the summer, even if just for a day trip (as we did).  Main Street is a very interesting place to go for a stroll, and the Inn and store offer you places to get refreshment.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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