The history of Black Hawk and Central City explored

Local author pens new book using vintage images to share history of the area

PRESS RELEASE – The newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series is Black Hawk and Central City by local author David Forsyth. The book boasts more than 200 vintage images and memories of days gone by.

The neighboring towns of Central City and Black Hawk in Gilpin County played very prominent roles in the formation of Colorado. The two mining camps supplied millions of dollars in gold, giving them great economic and political power in the 1800s. Colorado’s first two US senators and representative came from Central City.

The two towns were home to popular theaters, schools, churches, baseball teams and thriving businesses, all designed to prove they were permanent, law-abiding settlements. As mining began to die out in the late 1890s and early 1900s, the two towns entered a period of steep economic decline, but a new mining operation and the reopening of the Central City Opera House in the 1930s led to a revival, making the former mining camps major tourist attractions. The introduction of legalized gambling in 1991 added yet another chapter to the colorful history of Black Hawk and Central City. This unique history is showcased using a collection of vintage images in Images of America: Black Hawk and Central City.

Highlights of Black Hawk and Central City include:

  • Emphasizes the importance of law and order in Black Hawk and      Central City, which did not want to be thought of as the Wild West.
  • Discusses some of the lesser known tales of Black Hawk and Central      City, including the uranium boom of the late 1940s and early 50s.
  • Highlights      the community effort to revive Central City as a tourist town in the      1930s.
  • A portion      of the author’s profits will go to the Gilpin Historical Society to help      fund its effort to collect and preserve the history of Gilpin County.

Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or online.

Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Our mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places. Have we done a book on your town? Visit

About the Author


David Forsyth is a Colorado native. His passion for history led to his earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s in it from the University of Colorado at Denver and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His interests include presidential history, Colorado history, and amusement park history. He has written several articles on various aspects of Colorado history that have appeared in History Colorado’s magazine Colorado Heritage and International Bowling Industry magazine, among others. He is the winner of the 2004 Koch Prize for Best Master’s Thesis in Colorado Studies from CU Denver, and the Clear Creek County/Gilpin County Metal Mining Association’s 2013 Golden Burro Award for his work in preserving and promoting those counties’ mining heritage.


Forsyth has worked for the Gilpin Historical Society for eight years, serving as executive director and curator for the last four. During that time he has given thousands of tours of the Teller House and Opera House in Central City and has worked to expand and improve the historical society’s mining collection and displays. He also serves on the board of directors of the Fairmount Heritage Foundation in Denver, which preserves and protects and the history of Riverside and Fairmount Cemeteries. While serious about his work as a historian, he also likes to do as much fun history as possible, which has led to his strong passion for amusement parks and their history and he likes to visit them as often as possible.

He hopes that this book will bring back happy memories for the people who read it, interest people in finding and preserving their own historic photographs and will inspire interest in people to explore the colorful histories of Black Hawk and Central City.

What lasting impact do you hope your book will leave?

I hope that it will give the reader a good understanding of how Black Hawk and Central City developed, especially with their insistence on law and order so that the towns were attractive places to potential investors and residents who sought stability. I also hope that it will give a fuller understanding of the revival of the towns in the 1930s, when people wanted to use tourism to bring the towns back, but needed to find that hook (which the Central City Opera Association eventually provided) on which to hang the revival.

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