Like nearby Central City
, Black Hawk got its start in 1859 after gold was discovered in Gregory Gulch. Black Hawk was known as the "City of Mills". Its location at the bottom of the gulch meant more water, and water was required to run the mills and smelters that separated the gold from the ore. Hence, Black Hawk took its place as the industrial center of the district.
Black Hawk was hit particularly hard by the downturn of the mining industry. The combination of poor economic conditions and recurring floods resulted in severe deterioration of the mining-era town. In 1991, legislation was enacted to allow gambling in Black Hawk, and the town was saved from the anvil of time.
Black Hawk is unique among mining towns in that the gambling economy has not just revitalized the town, it has completely transformed it into something unique. The town sits in a narrow valley and space is at a premium. However, the gambling brings in so much money that massive earth moving operations have changed the shape of the canyon to allow large casinos. Many casinos have an odd long and narrow footprint to fit the available space in the valley. Almost the entire town has been rebuilt - roads, utilities, retaining walls - everything. Historic homes have been painstakingly moved out of the paths of casino development and into newly terraced neighborhoods on the hill. The town has become an amazing scene of rebirth and development (at some cost to historical integrity) and is an amazing thing to behold.
Common misspelling: Blackhawk, Blackhawk Colorado