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Vast milling complexes together with the two-foot tracks of the Gilpin Tram and the three-foot gauge track of the Colorado & Southern railroad converged at the mouth of Chase Gulch to form the northern spur of Black Hawk’s commercial center.

Polar Star Mill, ca. 1860s, was one of the last mills in this area to remain in operation. A small, shed-roofed masonry portion of the mill remains today. Homes and mills hugged the hillsides of Chase Gulch, “now and then a cottage in the calico style, with all sorts of brackets and carved drop cornices” was noted by journalist and traveler, Bayard Taylor in 1867.

“The bordering and wedging hills were densely wooded when the mines were discovered, but the trees were small, and few now remain within five or six miles around.”

Ovando Hollister, The Mines of Colorado, 1867


“Black Hawk contains the decaying remains of what was once the milling and smelting focus for the entire gold region during the 1860s…the peculiar nature and demanding locations of the ore extracted from throughout the area made of the district’s miners and millers some of the most prolific developers and exporters of mineral extraction and smelting methods in the whole of the country.”

Central City Black Hawk National Historic
Landmark Boundary Committee Report, 1976

Lodges provided social outlets for the miners and millworkers.


Fraternal orders were of great importance in early Black Hawk’s male-dominated society. Mountain Lodge No. 2, I.O.O.F. (Odd Fellows) was chartered June 14, 1865. A second Black Hawk Odd Fellows chapter, Colorado Lodge No. 3, followed less than a year later. The first Masonic fellowship was Black Hawk Lodge No. 11, A.F. & A.M., which was instituted February 17, 1866. And over the years many others– Foresters, Red Men, Good Templars–would join them. Lodges provided social outlets and services for the miners and millworkers.

Injuries were not uncommon, and the brotherhood could provide medical care and support while a worker recovered. And in the case of death, lodges provided burial services, as well as insurance benefits for the widow or bereaved family.

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