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Central City: 1942

Central City: 1942

May 1942. "Central City, an old mining town. Mountainous region of Central Colorado, west of Denver." Acetate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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House hunting

In answer to seaelf's question, when you drive into Central City, the best parking lot is right where John Vachon was standing. You can't miss seeing that building. The street in the present view leads to Idaho Springs uphill to the left. Central City is indeed a fascinating place; as a photographer I've spent many happy hours there.

Google Sleuthing

Seaelf asked how I was able to find the location, and it's really just because Central City is crazy tiny. The old part of town only has a couple of streets, and this view is urban enough that it's not likely to be on the outskirts. Plus there's an obvious church on the right which helps focus in on possible locations.

When lightning rods fell from fashion

I don't know how true this is, but I've heard that with the advent of indoor plumbing, the conventional wisdom said that you no longer needed a lightning rod, because you had a cast iron plumbing vent stack protruding from the roof, making a good conductor to ground. Then, decades later, when PVC or ABS replaced cast iron, people forgot they had ever used that reasoning.

St. Aloysius.

How interesting. My sister and I graduated from St. Aloysius Academy in Rome, N.Y. Like this one, it was closed years ago. In our case, the name was meant to honor a local 19th century priest, the Rev. Aloysius Murphy, pastor of St. Peter's church.

Class Dismissed

No lurking mystery on the remains of the once vibrant St. Aloysius Academy atop Gunnell Hill in Central City. When it was built, the Sisters had the biggest school in town with room for nearly 200 students but those days had passed when the photo was taken. The foundation of the academy remains with a memorial cross in the same spot atop the hill, which was once reached with a lung aching climb up ten steep staircases from the city streets below.

Up on the hill

The building at the top of the hill was the "remains" of the Saint Aloysius Academy. You can see the outline of the foundation on the current satellite view. It is now the site of the Ida Kruse McFarlane Memorial.

How did you find it?

The comment with photo showing the house in the foreground today ... how did you find it without an address? Amazing.

The house on the hill.

More a memorial these days, to Ida Kruse McFarlane. Many of the buildings in the image are still around, today, you can see the roofline and cupola of the building next door:

More about Ida, here: Ida Kruse McFarlane - Wikipedia

Lightning Rods Salesman Wanted

My first thought about the hollowed out house sitting so high above the others was that it was likely the victim of a lightning strike and fire. When I was a kid, we lived in the highest old Victorian in our neighborhood. Lightning struck with a sound that made us think an atomic bomb might have hit. We didn't have a fire, but sparks rained down all sides of the house. Wherever electrical wires passed behind plaster under windows, curtains were singed & the bottoms fell as if cut by scissors.

My grandfather's sons thought he was nuts for installing lightning rods on his house in 1950.

Here's a house a couple of miles from me that got struck in 2016, for obvious reasons.

[Indeed. - Dave]

Central City/Black Hawk

Now twin towns that are the proud environs of more than a few casinos, large and small. Been there many times in the last 20 years. The area is gorgeous.

A bit of all right

Despite what was in all likelihood a hardscrabble life, involving grueling work in an all-but-overtly hostile environment, those are some nice houses -- especially the one with the matching witch-hat turrets. But I covet the unfinished abode on high ground, looking down on everyone else. And is that a church over there on the right, with the lovely gothic windows? Let us pray.

[That structure up on the hill looks finished in more ways than one. - Dave]

Dave so you think it's old rather than new? I briefly wondered about that but allowed myself to believe they were waiting for me to choose windows and doors and a granite package, plus hardwoods for the floors.


Google imagery has strongly inspired me to visit Central City someday.

City Hall?

Apparently what appears to be a modest two-family building has now been turned into the city hall, with a suitably large appendage on the right.

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