There was another railroad that served Black Hawk and
Central City. This was the Colorado Central, later part of
the Colorado and Southern. Started in the 1870's from Golden
Colorado this 3 foot narrow-gauge railroad snaked up Clear Creek.
This railroad went from Denver to Golden and up Clear Creek.
At Forks, it split with one line going up North Clear Creek to Black
Hawk and Central City; and the other going up South Clear Creek to Idaho
Springs, Georgetown and Silver Plume.
Just as the purpose of the Gilpin Tram was to bring the
ore down from the mills, the Colorado Centrals primary purpose was to
bring the refined gold out of the mountains. But there was a
more long term purpose as well. If a transcontinental route
could be developed up Clear Creek, then Golden would be the commerce
center for all of the Colorado Rockies.
The Colorado Central was first formed as the Colorado
and Clear Creek Railroad on 9 February 1865. Changed to the
Colorado Central and Pacific Railroad on 20 January 1866, it finally was
reformed to the Colorado Central on January 14, 1868. By the end
of the year 11 miles had been graded up Clear Creek Canyon. Work
languished in 1869 but with help from the Union Pacific traffic was
opened between Golden and Jersey Junction (near Denver) on September 24,
1870. After another lull, track laying began in earnest in
1872, reaching the Forks by September 1 of that year.
Regularly scheduled freight and passenger runs to Forks began by October
1. The first scheduled run into Black Hawk was on December 11,
Much to the disappointment of Central City, efforts
towards them then stopped and resources were put into the southern
branch of the line. Track was laid as far as
Floyd Hill (3 miles from Georgetown) when a lack of money slowed things
down. No new track was laid in Clear Creek until 1877.
Track reached Idaho Springs on June 11, 1877. Later it was
extended up the canyon past Georgetown and up to Silver Plume over the
famous Georgetown Loop.
Also work was started for the extension from Black Hawk
to Central City. One of the problems was that although
Central City was only a little over a mile away from Black Hawk, there
was a matter of 500 feet of climb. The solution was to climb up
Clear Creek through Black Hawk, then by use of a switch back, pass
through Black Hawk going down valley bridging above the business
district and climbing up the valley wall and with a final switch
back go up Gregory Gulch. The first train to Central
City was May 21, 1878.
Financial problems cause the Colorado Central to be
leased to the Union Pacific on February 20 1879, making it a
subsidiary. It was then included in the Union Pacific Denver &
Gulf on March 18, 1890 which was controlled by the Union Pacific.
Then after the collapse of the UP in 1893 it went into receivership and
was reorganized into the Colorado and Southern in 1899.
Service to Central City was discontinued in 1925 with
the track being abandoned in 1931. Idaho Springs to Silver Plume
was abandoned in 1939 and the rest of the track feeding Clear Creek was
abandoned by 1941.