Colorado Central


Colorado and Southern
Clear Creek Division

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Along Clear Creek
C&S in Black Hawk
Along the Switchback
C&S in Central City
C&S in Golden


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, 1872. 

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.   



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This page was last updated 09/27/17

Copyright 2017 by Mark Baldwin