Mountain City Colorado was the first established town of the many settlements known as the Central City group.
The person responsible for this settlement was John Gregory, of Georgia, who struck the Gregory Lode in the late 1850's.
Gregory was a driver for the mule train at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. He was making his way west to California to the Sutter gold fields.
During a long winter in 1858, he kept hearing rumors that gold was discovered at the South Platte River in the Colorado territory.
Abandoning his plans for California, Gregory made a tour of the profitable mining areas around Pikes Peak.
Staying close to the creeks and streams, he eventually found a promising area which is known today as Clear Creek.
Gregory came to a fork in the creek of, again what is today, Idaho Springs and Central City. He followed the north branch and wound up in a gulch that carries his name.
Here he started prospecting and found gold strewn around the creek bank. He determined this was the richest find of all he had been examining.
After spending a winter at his strike, he returned to the town of Golden for supplies. He met up with two other men, Wilkes Defrees and William Ziegler, who he encouraged to go with him to his find.
Arriving back at the Gregory Lode, the men continued to pan for gold along the creek. As Gregory was sifting sand, he suddenly saw a layer of gold in the bottom of the pan.
Defrees and Gregory jumped into the creek and between them, it is said, pulled out about 40 pans of gold.
It is noted by a local newspaper man who was covering gold strikes in the area, that Gregory was quite bewildered by his discovery. He didn't sleep, convinced someone was going to jump his claim.
Gregory put up a log and brush hut for shelter, and this became the first building in the town of Mountain City.
Word of the find in Clear Creek Canyon spread like wildfire and people flocked to the area from Denver. Some found gold, others weren't so lucky.
Tents, huts and other shelters grew up around Gregory Gulch. Eventually, it was difficult to tell where one settlement ended and the other began.
Black Hawk was established with its many refineries and mills. Then Mountain City became a town, with Central City above it.
Mountain City Colorado was platted by Richard Sopris, who laid it out halfway between Black Hawk and Central City.
To show how quickly these towns grew, by summer of 1859, Mountain City had a hotel and log theater along with the various structures housing the miners. It took only six weeks for the town to be established where there once was nothing.
Two newspapers in the mountain area were opened, the Rocky Mountain Gold Reporter and the Mountain City Herald.
A Masonic hall and a saloon were built and in June, 1859, the first church service was held in the new town of Mountain City.
John Gregory sold his land for around $25,000 and moved back to Georgia. In 1860, Mountain City was all but empty with the new gold find at California Gulch.
The Civil War brought miners back to the town, rich with fissures of gold, and mining resumed a fever pitch for years. Both the Union and the Confederacy needed gold to support themselves.
With the end of the war, the bottom fell out of gold mining and the people of Mountain City moved on.
In 1880, Mountain City was incorporated into the eastern part of the town of Central City. Today, new riches found in the area are casinos and grand hotels.
To visit Mountain City, take Hwy. 119 to Black Hawk, then head east toward Central City. You will find a bronze marker locating where the town once stood.