Gilpin County Hauntings
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Founded in 1859,
quickly acquired the reputation of being in the middle of "the richest
square mile on earth." As many as 30,000 miners flooded the area in search
of their fortunes but by the end of its second year, most of the placer
gold was gone and hard rock mining began. The settlement’s
population ebbed and flowed with the building of new mines and survived
through the 1870’s and 1880’s.
However, by the early 1900’s
was becoming a virtual "ghost” as buildings were dismantled – the lumber
and materials shipped to more thriving settlements.
By the 1920’s the
settlement had only about 500 residents. Struggling along as
tourist town for years afterwards, the town regained some prosperity
with the passing of legalized gambling in 1991.
However, the nearby
Blackhawk, nearer to the highway, benefited most from the new law
Central City continued to struggle along. However, the
City is that most of its historic buildings remain intact.
Central City, although
inhabited by the living, is also said to remain home to a number of
April 5 and November 1, it is said that a beautiful woman in a black
satin dress appears and lays flowers on the grave of John Edward
Cameron. There are many different rumors for the connection between
this ghost and Cameron, who died on November 1, 1887. At one
time, twelve people gathered at Cameron's grave on November 1 to see
the ghost. They were not disappointed -- at sunset, the woman
appeared as always, but when two of the men tried to grab her, she
flew off and vanished on a hill not far from the cemetery. The
hilltop cemetery is north of the city.
Opera House -- One of
the more famous landmarks in the old mining town is the
Opera House. Here, some of Colorado's finest troupes of entertainers
performed, and some have seemingly stayed on to perform long after the
troupes have left. Built in 1878, the national historic Opera
House has hosted performances for well over 100 years. Unfortunately, shortly after its opening, the
mines played out and the Opera House fell into disrepair. However, many years later the 550-seat Opera House was saved by a
volunteer effort in 1932. Restoring the Opera House to its
former grandeur, performances were brought back to the old Opera House
for summer festivals that continue to this day.
Among the remaining troupes of
the Opera House was s a miner turned stage performer by the name of Mike
Dougherty, who was a favorite in 1865. Unfortunately, like many
residents of this rough and tumble frontier town, Dougherty drank himself
to death. Apparently, Mike's love of the stage has caused him to
Over the years, numerous back-stage visitors
have reported being nearly overwhelmed with the strong (but fleeting) odor
of alcohol, which is sometimes accompanied by a stout nudge on the
shoulder, or by their hair being lightly ruffled from behind. While
Dougherty seems to be a friendly
living are always considerably startled when they turn to look and realize
that they are alone in the darkened corridor.
occurrences have included strange flickering orbs of light that seem to
float across a darkened stage and then vanish into the wings. The distinct
sound of footsteps is also heard in the balcony, thought to be those of a
long departed female patron, Occasional cold spots have been felt
which move from one corner to the next backstage. Nearly all of these
occurrences have been reported when the theater is dark and not in use for
– This historic building is one
of the few
that survived the 1874
fire. Built at a cost of $84,000 in 1872, the owners spent an
additional $20,000 for furnishings, making it the finest hotel (outside of
Denver) west of the Mississippi. In the beginning, the rate for this
luxury hotel was 50 cents per night plus an additional $2.50 tariff. President Grant visited
and the Teller House in 1873 and again in 1876. For his 1873 visit, a path
of silver ingots valued at $12,000 was laid from his carriage to the front
door of the hotel as a "welcome mat."
This building houses the famous and mysterious "Face on the Barroom Floor"
painting, done by Herndon Davis in 1934. This lovely painting is
carefully maintained today.
has it that the woman’s likeness was painted by a distraught miner when
his wife died of consumption (tuberculosis.) As the story goes, the
miner drank himself into a stupor and then proceeded to paint his wife’s
portrait on the floor. Speaking tenderly of her, he painted long
into the night and on past noon the next day. Once the artist was
finished, he slept, never to wake again. Buried next to his beloved
wife, witnesses say that on the anniversary of his death, the couple can
be heard talking tenderly to each other through her portrait on the floor.
– There are at least four cemeteries in
Central City. One of
these old cemeteries holds the remains of a woman who was determined to be
a witch by her peers. If you can find the grave, it is said that if one
stands just a few yards away, a green mist will surround the area.
Further, witnesses purport that if the lighting is right, hundreds of
maggots will cover the ground.
Reader Update: In the
cemetery I have a picture of a man standing in the trees just watching us
take his photo. I also saw an old lady next to the broken pillar behind
the cemetery and three orbs on the foundation by the front gate. On
another occasion, a little girl appeared in the trees next to her grave. I have been seeing these types of spirits since I was three years old. - Julia, April, 2005.
Teller House, 1872, courtesy Denver Public
Old mines just outside of
Central City, August, 2003, Kathy Weiser
Gold Mine Road
-- Though "they" don't give this road a name nor call it
the "Gold Mine Road", I called it that for lack of a better
description. This is a personal experience as I traveled along this road
Central City, past the
cemeteries leading to Nevadaville, past Russell Gulch and on to Idaho
Springs. My traveling companion on this trek was known to me to be a
Though he had shared many uncanny experiences with me about his insights
and feelings; he himself was uncomfortable with his ability. As we
traveled the road, I, of course, continued to insist that we stop for
photo opportunities. Mesmerized by the beauty of the area and the
history facing me, I could have spent an entire day.
I could tell that my companion was getting increasingly agitated, and finally he turned and said to me:
"There are too many dead people here, we are leaving!!" So, we
reversed ourselves and I quickly found myself sitting in a small tavern in
Central City. Later,
my companion would only say that those hills were filled with the "dead." He wouldn't say more, but I would love to venture those hills again with
another "ghost magnet" that is willing to talk.
The Haunted Mine
In the beginning,
Central City was so filled
with gold and silver that one could often just pick it up. But, as
the surface minerals were gone, the dangerous work of hard-rock mining
began. Many miners in the area suffered cave ins, accidents with
tools and explosives, and suffocation.
In one area mine that
closed more than 85 years ago, the Pozo Shaft is said to still remain home
to a number of ghostly miners. Many night-time trespassers have been
frightened away by faint yellow lights coming from the old mine and the
sounds of men working deep in the mine shaft far below.
In one area mine, the Pozo
Shaft, it is said that many mischievous, night-time trespassers (usually
acting on an ill-advised dare) have been frightened by faint but eerie
yellow lights and the sounds of heavy tools and men working deep in the
mine shaft below.
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