Letter from The President
Greetings to all GTC members,
I hope everyone is well and staying safe during this pandemic. Staying at home and missing all sorts of travel, social and church meetings has been restrictive, but necessary. I decided to make the most of this time out.
The most pressing task was completing the 36 continuing education credit hours needed for recertification to continue my part-time lab work job (learned lots of new things). Then on to cleaning out closets and drawers (not really fun, but felt good to get it done). Traded recipes with the neighbors, baked bread 3 times, made scones twice, butternut squash soup and chili (yummy). Read 5 riveting books. Dragged out the jigsaw puzzles and solved three fiendishly difficult 1000-piece puzzles over a month. They were beautiful scenes and I kept each on the dining room table to admire for a while before putting them safely back in their boxes. Volunteered at the church food pantry once a week using plenty of PPE. Celebrated church services by video on Facebook.
Keeping in touch with family and friends by phone and Facebook became important since I knew I would not be able to travel to Minnesota this summer. Carl and I celebrated our birthdays and 29th anniversary on March 15, April 11 and May 25 respectively. Our cats were confused when it would get warm and they could get fresh air from the open windows and then it would snow, pile up and block their view. They are probably sick of us being home all the time so they can’t get into mischief.
Since I couldn’t go to the rec center to swim, I resorted to taking walks around the neighborhood, and by social distancing, got to know some neighbors better and made new friends. From March to May I was able to observe nature’s incredibly beautiful transformation from winter into spring. I watched chickadees make their nest in the eaves, saw my rose bushes that I thought had frozen push out new shoots, the Vinca minor and lilacs blooming, and marveled at the fluffy spring clouds forming in the deep azure sky. I listened to the birds’ songs, the new baby green leaves rustling, and the bees buzzing. It was so wonderful to be able to appreciate what I never really had the time to do before. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she realized that all her heart’s desires could be found in her own backyard and “there’s no place like home.” There are plenty of adventures to be found right here.
I hope all of you have used this time to reflect, be introspective, and enjoy the beautiful and important things in your lives.
~ Shirley Miller, President
Coming Attractions (or “How I Spent My Shelter-In-Place Vacation”)
By Ethan Knightchilde
Earlier this year we started packing and getting ready to sell our house. It was on the market for about a week when the COVID hit the fan.
Since then, I’ve occupied part of my time with a couple of projects for future GTC meetings. The work at times has felt like a herculean task, considering the screen real estate of a 15” laptop and that most of my resources—books, printed files on western history and ghost towns, computers, large screen monitors, etc.—remain in a tightly-packed storage unit. However, I’m pleased to say that work has been progressing on a two-part program about the greatest Old West historic district that never was. It is tentatively called “Lost Cities of the West: The Rise and Fall of Bodie and Aurora.” And yes, you read correctly—it will be presented in two parts.
Bodie, California, and Aurora, Nevada, are two of my favorite ghost towns and huddle toward each other on their respective sides of the state line. Their histories are colorful and very much intertwined. Rather than just give an overview of the buildings that remain or repeat unfounded folklore about 10,000 residents or the Bad Man from Bodie, the presentation will provide some hints on what it was like to live in those towns during their heydays as well as through their declines, and illustrate the fates that befell them using historical and contemporary photographs.
The second project would return us to some of the more interactive programs from the club’s early years. It’s called “Boom Town Bingo”—and yes, it is exactly what it sounds like.
From Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Matters by Shanna Lewis with CPR’s Ryan Warner
October 31, 2018 – There Are 700 Ghost Towns In Colorado, And Ron Ruhoff Has Visited Many Of Them
What do we do?
The Ghost Town Club of Colorado was founded in 1958 by two Denver teachers, Jack Morison and Bob Brown. Together with several other people who shared an interest in Colorado history and historic preservation, they created a group focused specifically on ghost towns – their history and preservation.
Ghost Town Club of Colorado (GTC) holds monthly meetings featuring guest speakers on a variety of topics related to western history, ghost towns, Colorado history and relevant historic subjects. Past presentation topics include: the adventure, danger and romance of Colorado’s railroads, Denver’s great mansions and the people who inhabited them, and the unusual opportunities and challenges of living in a fire observation tower. There is something for everyone in this group of enthusiastic lovers of Colorado history!
Members also plan, organize, and lead many field trips to ghost towns and/or historic sites. These include day-trips to local sites such as old Fort Lupton to learn about and observe reconstruction of the fort, as well as to the ghost town of Dearfield to explore a hundred-year-old African American agricultural community on the arid high plains. Our excursions may include leisure driving, four-wheel driving, and/or hiking to our destinations.
Our field trips also include weekend excursions such as a motorcoach tour to Nebraska and the Lincoln County Historical Museum depicting a WWII canteen serving more than six million soldiers traveling by train through North Platte.
We also organize longer tours traveling to several states and parts of Canada, visiting significant historical sites and monuments, national parks, and local historians along the way.
And lets not forget about historic preservation. The club collects money throughout the year in a preservation fund to distribute at the end of the year to nonprofit historic sites in need of finacial support. Also, we will often help by doing actual preservation work with hands-on labor.
Who are we?
We are a diverse and active group of people with a shared sense of and reverence for history. We honor the significant contributions of many people through our strong desire to study, learn from, and preserve ghost towns and the memory of the people who built and lived in them. Perhaps most importantly, we are a group of friendly people who enjoy getting out, socializing, learning, and having a lot of fun.
How do we operate?
We are a volunteer-run organization. Our board of directors consists of six members who are elected to two-year terms. The president and other officers are elected for a yearly term. Subcommittees plan and execute special projects such as the yearly banquet, preservation fund awards, volunteer coordination, or outreach activities, to name a few.
Snapshot of GTC History
During the first three meetings of the Club back in 1958 when organizers were trying to decide on a name for the club, one lone stranger kept insisting that “toll roads” be added to the name. Finally Ghost Town Club of Colorado was “railroaded” through. In December 1963, the Club was legally incorporated with the Secretary of State.
First dues for the Club were $1 a year. In 1979, dues were $5 a year. Slowly postage, printing, insurance and rent have caused minimal increases. It’s been many a year since we had to raise the dues, and as Dick Ramsey says, “It’s still the best bargain in town.”
We invite you to attend a monthly meeting to learn more about us. Our membership dues are $30 per year. Join GTC today! Costs for field trips vary based on distance and length.