Before gold prospectors came to the area, a smattering of explorers and mountain men trapped and traded and mingled peacefully with the Ute Indians. But that was just the calm before the storm that began when gold was found in Gold Run creek near Gold Hill. They "hit gold," then the onslaught began.
The Nederland area was one of the few in the country to experience a boom and bust in three different metals. To give you an idea of the timeframe in which the Nederland area was formed, following is a timeline of the events that put the Nederland area on the map.
Pre 1858 Explorers and traders trap and
trade in the area, mingle peacefully with the Ute Indians of the area.
1858 Prospectors seperate from their group heading through Wyoming on their way to California to search for gold on the Front Range. The prospectors set up their own town site, Boulder City, and trek up Boulder Canyon (then spelled "Canon") to look for gold.
1859 Prospectors find gold in Gold Run creek. The camp becomes Gold Hill. Gold Hill becomes known as Mountain District #1, Nebraska Territory, and is the first governing body in what would become Colorado.
1861 The town of Nederland begins as a "nondescript huddle of cabins," then called Dayton. Dayton later becomes known as Brown's Crossing.
1864 The trail between Ward and Black Hawk is improved and named the Niwot and Black Hawk Wagon road, which traveled between the two destinations.
1865 Word has spread, and by the mid 1860s, 200 people are living in Gold Hill.
1869 Silver is found at Hill's Ranch (Caribou mine) and in Poor Man mine five miles west of Nederland (Brown's Crossing).
1870 The Silver Rush begins, and stagecoaches bring in an estimated 1,000 people per day by September of that year.
1871 Brown's Crossing's name is changed to Middle Boulder, after the stream running through the town. It connects the gold mines of Ward with the mills and smelter at Black Hawk.
1872 Discovery of gold, combined with the new discovery of tellurium at Caribou, launches a second gold rush. This starts the Telluride Boom.
1873 Investors from Holland buy the Caribou Mill and change the name of Brown's Crossing to Nederland, which means "lowland," being lower ground than at Caribou. The dutch company went bankrupt in 1878, but the name remained.
1879 The first of three destructive fires roar into Caribou, leveling 40 to 60 homes and mine buildings. The center of the town is saved, and there is no loss of life.
1870-1880 Ongoing scarlet fever and diphtheria epidemics, combined with the fires of the late 1870s, discourages many miners, who then leave the area.
1882 Gold is found near the now town of Eldora. Happy Valley mining camp is established and resurgence in gold mining takes place. With declining silver prices, Caribou's population declines, leaving a population of only 100 people.
1883 The Greely, Salt Lake & Pacific railroad is built to serve the Boulder County gold mining towns. It extends up Four Mile Canyon from Boulder to what is now Sunset. In 1898, it is extended to Ward under the new management of the Colorado and Northwestern, with a second branch winding south to Nederland in 1905.
1897 Happy Valley is renamed Eldorado. After the postmistress finds mail being routed to Eldorado, California, one too many times. The town is shortened to Eldora. In the late 1800s, tourism and real estate begin to surge.
1899 Caribou suffers its second major fire, which destroys many of the towns premiere buildings. A third fire in 1905 again decreases the number of buildings and people living there. Opened until March 1917, the Caribou Post Office was one of the town's last buildings standing.
1904 For years, prospectors in the Nederland area cursed "the damned black iron" which was dark ore found throughout the area. Later finding it to be rich in tungsten, the Wolf Tongue Mining Company is formed to mine tungsten from the mines in Nederland.
1910 The Barker Dam is built by the Colorado Power Company in order to haul in heavy equipment.
1915 The tungsten boom in Nederland reaches its peak. Twenty-two mills process the tungsten from the mines, all of which are said to be making a profit.
1918 Not long after, the town is crippled by a flu epidemic and tungsten mining and milling production is practically at a standstill, the boom collapses as the wartime demand for tungsten diminishes.
Post 1920 As mining decreases as the key industry of the area, tourism takes over as the largest revenue generator.
*Information for the timeline was found in "Peak to Peak Then and Now" and "Inn and Around Nederland," by Silvia Pettem.