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The Ghost Town Club of Colorado is an active and energetic group of people with diverse backgrounds who share an interest in the history of the west, especially Colorado. 

The club enjoys visiting historic sites and is committed to the preservation of these sites for future generations.

The club holds monthly meetings with programs on historical subjects. In addition, the club conducts field trips to sites throughout Colorado, and occasionally beyond to locales in the western United States and Canada.

Historic preservation is a focus of our work and preservation work is done in conjunction with field trips. Also once a year the club distributes its preservation funds to nonprofit historical sites in need of financial help.

Exploration, enjoyment and preservation of historical sites.

About GTC

Letter from The President

October 2020

Greetings Ghost Towners,

I think everyone will agree that the first Zoom meeting of the Ghost Town Club was a success. Thirty-one members and one guest attended. Among those were two members from out of town, Karen Ireland from Yakima, WA and our newest member Bonnie Konopka from Salida, CO. The meeting proceeded smoothly, thanks to Ethan Knightchilde, and the program presenters were able to do the “Share screen” feature without any glitches. This seems to be a very suitable alternative to in-person meetings during this pandemic. I hope more of our members will take advantage of this app so we can get together virtually. Get your grandkids, the kid next door or the Geek Squad to help you set it up.

I understand that the Stumptown chaos trip was also a big success, thanks to Charles Russell and Josh Robinson. I have heard enthusiastic reviews from some members that participated and am eagerly looking for the pictures to be posted on the Ghost Town Club Of Colorado Community Facebook page.

In the real estate section of the Sunday Denver Post on Sept. 13, I saw that the 1886 Beaumont Hotel in Ouray, which was meticulously restored in 2003 to the tune of $24 million, is now available for $8,500,000! When Carl and I spent our first vacations together in Ouray, the old hotel was boarded up. I was thinking it would be a wonderful place to splurge for a night to celebrate our 30th anniversary next year. The San Juan area was one of the first places I visited when I first came to Colorado in 1989. I camped in Yankee Boy Basin, hiked over to the Blue Lakes, climbed Mt. Sneffels and descended quickly in a driving rainstorm. Later when I met Carl, we hiked and 4-wheeled all over the area. We climbed up to the Old Hundred Mine boarding house near Silverton, saw remnants of an old turntable in Corkscrew Gulch, went over Lizard Head Pass, viewed Mt. Wilson from Alta, stopped in Ridgway to see Dennis Weaver’s zero energy house and we also saw where the first “True Grit” was filmed. I especially remember in the movie the vast meadow on Owl Creek Pass where John Wayne challenged the outlaws on horseback with guns blazing. The meadow was really only about the size of a city parking lot. Amazing what they can do with movie photography.

Looking forward to hearing shared memories of your adventures and favorite places in future Gazettes.

~ 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

Listen now


 

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.”


Join us!

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.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Programs & Monthly Meetings

No Meetings Scheduled

(Typical) Monthly Meeting Schedule

We hold ten regular meetings per year on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7:30p.m. We meet at the Grace United Methodist Church located at 4905 East Yale Avenue, Denver, Colorado (just west of I-25 and Yale). Additional parking is available in the church parking lot on the north side of the building.

Banquet Update: POSTPONED UNTIL APRIL 2021

Location: Maggianos’ Little Italy, 7401 South Clinton Street, Englewood, CO
Date: Saturday, September 19, 2020

NEW DATE: April 17, 2021

PLEASE NOTE: Health advice from the CDC and scientific community will guide future decisions, including cancellation, by the Banquet Committee to ensure the safety of our members.


Past Field Trip Report

STUMPTOWN & LEADVILLE FIELD TRIP
September 12, 2020

Thanks to the combined efforts of many Ghost Towners, a chaos/meetup field trip took place on Saturday, September 12th.  Twenty Ghost Town Club members and guests, properly masked, met at the Ice Palace Park in Leadville, eager to pursue a day of exploring.

After necessary “paper work” was accomplished (waivers and sign-in sheet) the trip leaders provided an outline for our visit to Stumptown with the assist of a 1914 map provided by one of the members.  After the briefing, we began our caravan to Stumptown and on the way stopped and explored the site of Adelaide.  With original stereoscopes of the site and we were able to match the exact spot from where they had been taken.

We then continued approximately three miles to a parking area from which we hiked into Stumptown.  For some of us, the 11,300 foot elevation became apparent as we negotiated two inclines on the hike.  As we walked around the Stumptown site, trip leaders provided a talk on the architecture and archaeology of the site.  Other members also contributed information while we were exploring.  It was great to have so much interaction between the leaders and trip participants while we were learning about the site.

As promised, the site is well preserved and the street grid and rail grade through town were easy to identify.  The train station had a clearly defined foundation and remnants of the platform.  The ruins of a box car was on the railroad grade in front of the station. There are two well-preserved standing frame houses, one a two story in amazingly good shape, and a single story house.  Trip participants had lunch at the site.

After lunch, the group headed to nearby Oro City where we had a walk of the site.  Trip leaders were able to locate the school house and plat much of the Main Street based on an 1895 Sanborn map.  Some of the group then headed for other venues in Leadville or headed back home.  At least eight of the group headed to the Evergreen Cemetery, an optional stop outside of Leadville.

The group didn’t even get to the many other interesting historic sites and museums in Leadville.  This sounds like a good excuse for another trip to Leadville in the future!!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this a successful outing for the Ghost Town Club.

Upcoming Field Trips

FIELD TRIP to SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO: From Ancient Indian Cultures To Space Exploration
October 20-27, 2020

POSTPONED UNTIL 2021 – MORE DETAILS COMING LATER

DAY 1:
Today we will make our way to Santa Fe, stopping in Trinidad for lunch enroute. We will be staying in Santa Fe. (Lunch included).

DAY 2:
After breakfast we will depart for Capitan where we will enjoy a delightful lunch at Che Palle. We will visit Fort Stanton which was established to protect settlements along the Rio Bonito during the Apache Wars. Kit Carson, John “Black Jack” Pershing, Billy the Kid, and Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry all lived here. From there we are off to Lincoln where the walk down Main Street is a step back into the Wild West. Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett left their marks; Indians, Mexican American settlers, gunfighters and corrupt politicians made themselves known. The violent Lincoln County War erupted here and this is the town that made Billy the Kid a legend. We will then travel to Ruidoso NM where we will spend the night. (Breakfast and lunch included).

DAY 3:
Today is a day of contrasts – from ancient petroglyphs to space history. We’ll start off at Three Rivers Petroglyphs. It is believed the petroglyphs are the work of the Jornada Mogollon people between 1000 and 1400 AD. Over 21,000 petroglyph sites have been documented, but we won’t have to read them all. After a scenic drive from Three Rivers to Alamogordo, we will visit the New Mexico Museum of Space History where we will take a trip into the origins of our nation’s space exploration program through many fascinating artifacts and displays from the beginning of the space race to landing on the moon. Then we will check into our hotel in Alamogordo. (Breakfast and lunch included).

DAY 4:
Another day of contrasts! First of all we will explore the eerily beautiful White Sands National Monument with its rare white gypsum sand dunes. From there we’ll go to Las Cruces where we will learn about the farm and ranch history of New Mexico at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum. The guided tour will take us through all aspects and the importance of farming and ranching in New Mexico. After lunch is a special visit to the Zuhl Museum located on the New Mexico State University campus. The Museum is part gallery and part museum with beautiful specimens of petrified wood, fossils and minerals. Our hotel for tonight is in Las Cruces. (Breakfast and lunch included, and light dinner at the Kick Back Snacks and Beverages at the hotel.)

DAY 5:
Our first stop we will be the amazing Luna Mimbres Museum in Deming. The Museum is in an old brick Armory building and contains just about any artifact from the Mimbres Valley that you can imagine. It is operated by Historical Society volunteers who are very proud of the collection. The Museum is known for its incredible Mimbres pottery collection. This afternoon we visit the ghost town of Shakespeare! For many years Ghost Town Club Preservation Funds have been awarded to Shakespeare. Designated as a National Historic Site, Shakespeare is one of the “West’s Most Authentic Ghost Towns”. The town was started in 1870 with a silver strike and managed to hang on through the 1930’s. Shakespeare has been owned by the Hill family since 1935 and they have tried to preserve the old buildings and history without commercializing it. A local guide will enlighten us with the history of the town and the Hill family. We’ll spend the night in Lordsburg. (Breakfast and lunch included).

DAY 6:
Ever heard of the famous Hatch chilis? Today we’ll visit the quaint little town of Hatch and learn about and perhaps even taste some of the famous chilis. Then we’ll visit the Village of Hatch Museum, which is ALL about the people of Hatch. We’ll be enlightened with a talk by the Museum Curator. Then, we are off to Albuquerque where we will spend the night. The hotel is a short walk to Old Town Albuquerque if you want to venture there for dinner. (Breakfast and lunch included).

DAY 7:
After breakfast, we will depart for Santa Fe. There you will have time to visit The Plaza to shop and have lunch on your own. We will then travel to Taos where we will have a guided tour of the picturesque Taos Pueblo. Oral history indicates many of the buildings were constructed between 1000 and 1450 AD. Approximately 150 people still live in Taos Pueblo. The Taos Pueblos are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. Tonight we will stay in Taos, NM. (Breakfast included).

DAY 8:
All too soon it’s time to head north stopping at Fort Garland Museum in the San Luis Valley. We will have a guided tour of this well-preserved fort that operated from 1858-1883. Colorado Historical Society has done an amazing job of preserving this Fort and its history. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds before reboarding the bus and departing for Denver. (Breakfast and lunch included).

Price includes deluxe motorcoach transportation, hotel accommodations for seven nights, baggage handling, entrance fees to all attractions, local interpreters and guides and meals as indicated. Does not include items of a personal nature, meals not listed, alcoholic beverages or medical/cancellation travel protection plan.

Cost for double occupancy is $1,595 per person. Single occupancy is $2,095. Email us for more information or a reservation form.


Do you enjoy our field trips? Have you ever thought about leading one?

It’s easy! Find a friend, team up, and plan a trip for the club. Field trips can be for a few hours, a morning or afternoon, a full day, a weekend, or a week long excursion.

Want more information? Check out our printed guide on planning field trips for a step-by-step how to guide. Remember it’s always easier and more fun to work together. Some of our greatest field trips were been led by people who had never planned a trip before. Let’s go exploring together!