Gold Hill, Colorado

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Gold Hill is a census-designated place (CDP) in Boulder County, Colorado, United States. The population was 210 at the 2000 census. This settlement is located to the northwest of Boulder, perched on a mountainside above Left Hand Canyon at an elevation of 8,300 feet. Originally a mining camp, it was the site of the first major discovery of gold during the 1859 Colorado Gold Rush and remained an important mining camp throughout the late 19th century, with a population approaching 1500 at its height, before falling into decline. It has been revived somewhat in recent years as a quiet isolated haven, with no paved streets, but easily accessed by dirt roads. The town contains numerous historic wooden structures, some restored in recent years, as well decaying ruins from its mining heyday. It has a small museum and two-room schoolhouse, the Gold Hill School, which since 1873 has been the oldest continuously operating public school in Colorado. Other businesses include a General Store and a restored inn listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town is laid out on a small grid of dirt streets.

Gold Hill is accessible from nearby Left Hand Canyon Road via Lick Skillet Road, the steepest county road in the United States. Easier approaches to Gold Hill include Sunshine Canyon Road from 4th and Mapleton in Boulder, Gold Run Road from Salina (on Four Mile Canyon Road), and Gold Hill Road from the Peak-to-Peak Highway (State Highway 72) south of Ward. All of these roads are susceptible to heavy snows during the winter which at times render Gold Hill inaccessible to vehicles not equipped with chains or four wheel drive.

Gold Hill is sometimes labeled a ghost town, which is an inaccurate designation. Gold Hill is part of unincorporated Boulder County, and while it does not have a municipal government, it does have an active town meeting with elected officials.



The community is located above Gold Run, the first lode discovery of gold in Colorado (at that time the area was part of the Nebraska Territory) on January 15, 1859. The discovery occurred nearly simultaneous with prospecting in Gregory Gulch and Clear Creek, but these latter discoveries were not exploited until later that Spring. On March 7, 1859, the Gold Run discovery became the first mining district in region (named either the Mountain District No. 1, Mining District No. 1 of the Nebraska Territory, or the Nebraska Gold Hill Mining District, according to various historical sources). Word quickly spread among miners in the region, prompting a flood of new arrivals and the establishment of Gold Hill as the first permanent mining camp in present-day Colorado. By autumn, a quartz stamp mill was erected at the base of the hill, the first such piece of equipment in the region, one that had been transported by ox cart westward over the Great Plains. The first productive vein was the Scott, followed quickly the Horsfal, Alamakee, and Cold Spring. Nearby placers were also worked for the gold in stream beds.

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