Colorado ghost towns. When you think of the old west lots of things come to mind. The most common are ghost towns.
Unfortunately, there are no "towns" like you see in other parts of the west or on TV. Here in Colorado, you may find bits and pieces of the booming towns that use to be.
Many towns were established when the gold rush came about. They all, but a few, retreated into Colorado lore. Some of the most colorful histories of these towns are listed for you to enjoy.
The majority are in the Pikes Peak area of the gold rush days. Gold was discovered here in 1859 and tent camps then towns sprung up as quickly as people could arrive.
One such town in the Cripple Creek mining district was Elkton.
Mountain City, in the Central City group, was the predominate town of the Gregory Gulch area of present day Idaho Springs and Central City.
You can also find remains of towns all over the state. It didn't necessarily have to be the waning of the gold rush or silver boom that doomed a town. Virginia Dale is one of those towns. Marble is another.
Diseases spread, people die and those left move on. Some tent cities were wiped out by gangs of claim jumpers or Indian attacks.
Others were incorporated into the towns you know today in Colorado; Denver, Golden, Aspen, etc. One of these is Crystal City on the western slope.
But, yes, the gold rush was the main reason ghost towns or what is left of them, exist. Buckskin Joe, the earliest gold rush town, was wiped out by smallpox and the depletion of the gold source.
As soon as the gold was mined out, the towns were abandoned and people moved on. There are very few remains of these towns.
An old building, a marker, an old wagon is all that is visible from these once booming towns. Historic preservation in Colorado is active in keeping these sites from being destroyed.
South Park City outside of Fairplay, is a historic museum dedicated to the Colorado ghost towns that once were real towns.
It has been historically restored and mining equipment, buildings, railroad cars, etc. from the 1800's are there for you to enjoy. My husband and I have been there many times and it is truly a fascinating exhibit.
Living in an area where there are quite a few remains of old towns, I become nostalgic over a time that was.
Almost every day I drive by the site of where a town or railroad stop use to be.
As you travel across Colorado, you can find where these pieces of ghost towns are located by checking out the local historical societies.
These societies have loads of information about the ghost towns as well as pieces that have been found where the towns were built, and historic photographs.
Many places will be off the beaten path and you may have to hike to find them.
Also, if the artifacts are on private property, you must get the owners permission to search for them. It's common courtesy.
So next time you are in Colorado for a ski trip or passing through, stop long enough at some of the historic sites.
Think back, not that long ago, to a time that was a lot slower but more rugged, and the people who worked and lived at the spot on which you are standing.