Colorado was home to numerous bustling mining towns in the 1800’s. Cripple Creek and Central City are two such towns most Colorado residents are familiar with, mostly because many of the historic buildings now house casinos. Here in Colorado Springs, we have tour buses shuttling folks to and from Cripple Creek to gamble, shop, and dine. One of the busiest times to take the bus to Cripple Creek is New Year’s Eve. Several years ago, the hubby and I experienced a New Year’s Eve celebration in Cripple Creek courtesy of the shuttle bus. It was a fun time, and I imagine Central City booms on New Year’s Eve, too. (I can’t say for certain, as I’ve not been there… yet.) But ‘over the hill’ from Central City is Nevadaville, a Colorado ghost town and home to two residents.
Nevadaville was founded three weeks after John Gregory’s discovery of gold. The Burrows Lode quickly became Gilpin County’s largest site for concentration of mining activity. A.D. Gambell and Sam Link formed the town site and Joseph Stadley named the town. Nevadaville was also known as Nevada or Nevada City. To not be confused with Nevada, CA, the post office changed Nevadaville to Bald Mountain in 1869. Residents refused to call their town anything other than Nevadaville, creating an unusual situation where the town name was different from the post office name, until the post office closed in 1921.
During its peak, Nevadaville had a population of 4,000. Most of the citizens were of Irish descent. Businesses included saloons, barbershops, a shoe store and a grocery store. A dry goods store opened inside The Colorado Trading and Investment Company and later, Dr. Bourke set up his medical practice and opened a drug store. Nevadaville did not welcome establishments catering to the wild night life and incorporated this into law. Grogg shops, bawdy shops and gambling saloons were not allowed with the town limits. A $50 fine was put in place for violating the law. If an establishment racked up enough violations, they were banished from the district. A sheriff was appointed to enforce the law, and given an added bonus of keeping some of the profits from the fines.
In 1859, a Masonic Lodge was organized from the Kansas Grand Lodge and was given the name, Nevada Number 36. The Lodge relinquished their charters after only one meeting and came under the jurisdiction of the new Grand Lodge of Colorado, with the new name of Nevada Lodge Number 4. To this day, the Lodge continues to hold their meetings in Nevadaville.
A fire in 1861 destroyed over 50 buildings. Residents used TNT to save the rest of the town and rebuilt what was destroyed. The town lacked a good water supply and fell victim to four more fires. The last was in 1914 and Nevadaville was never fully rebuilt after that. Sadly, the veins in the mine were worked out too soon, and by 1900, the population dwindled.
As stated above, Nevadaville currently has two citizens, rumored to enjoy answering questions about the town’s history. Many of the historic buildings are still intact today. They are on private land and not open to the public, though folks can enjoy an afternoon in the Rocky Mountains strolling around the town.
The photos in this blog are courtesy of: