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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 2019 – The Uninvited


On a bright October morning, we drove south into the Bradshaw Mountains, leaving Prescott, Arizona, in our rear view mirror. Not long after descending the western slope, we turned onto an eastbound road that led into the desert, and it quickly revealed itself as the most rutted, washboard trail I had ever had the displeasure of experiencing. Speeds above ten miles per hour shook the Wrangler so violently that we imagined we were casting Jeep parts out into the saguaros. Even at a relative crawl, large dusty plumes followed in our wake, announcing our passage across the arid landscape.

Six miles after the turnoff, we pulled into an empty parking lot at the ghost town of Stanton. According to legend, Charles P. Stanton, a Machiavellian criminal who was no stranger to coercion and murder, seized control of Antelope Station in the late nineteenth century and renamed the settlement after himself. His reign of terror ended when he forced his attentions upon an unfortunate Mexican girl, and her brother shot him to death in retribution. Today the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association owns the town site, maintaining it as a recreational RV park for its members’ use.

My partner and I walked toward three surviving buildings under roof that awaited exploration. The air was still and only our footsteps broke the silence. We were greeted by disappointment at the old hotel as an unsightly collection of chairs, junk, and staging in front rendered it unworthy of capture on film. It was also locked. We moved on to the saloon, but found it had little beyond its bar to recommend it.

After the bone-jarring drive to get there, I would not leave without some photos for consolation. My partner left to continue his investigation while I set up the camera. When I finished he was nowhere to be seen, so I headed to the last of the remaining structures. Inside the old store, I found him engaged in conversation with a pleasant woman whose appearance suggested firsthand knowledge of the town’s heyday. The building now served as a member check-in with a shop that offered items meant to appeal to a tourist’s eyes. Rather than interrupt the chat, I perused the merchandise.

A map purporting to show the locations of Arizona’s lost mines immediately sparked my interest and held it until the unmistakable sound of boots striding across a wooden boardwalk distracted me. The approach grew steadily louder and I glanced up, fully expecting to see the door open at any moment. Instead the footsteps passed by, and I resumed my study. Presently the visitor returned, heading back the way he had come. Again he did not enter but instead continued pacing along the front of the building from one end to the other. I looked toward my partner and the caretaker. The noise had not disturbed their conversation.

I decided to buy the map as a souvenir, thereby ending our stay as well as the wait for the person outside. Attending to the purchase, I lost track of the boot steps. Upon leaving, I looked around, but could find no trace of the visitor. I thought that perhaps he had taken a break from his pacing and had entered the saloon; but on glancing toward the parking lot, I saw no other vehicle but ours. Nor were there any dust clouds present to betray a sudden departure out of town on the washboard road.

My partner asked, “What are you looking for?” Perplexed I replied, “Did you hear someone walking around out here, back and forth the whole time you were talking to that lady?” When he said he hadn’t, I added, “It sounded like boots on a boardwalk.” He scanned the site; and in that moment something that hitherto had escaped my notice now captured my attention. Primal instincts awoke; a cold chill traveled down my spine; and I stopped in my tracks.

“There’s no one else here,” I stated with quiet finality. He looked back in my direction and I pointed to the concrete slab in front of the building. “And there’s no wooden boardwalk that could have made those sounds.”

Perhaps my subconscious mind imagined it all. Or perhaps I had been standing where Charles Stanton was killed so long ago, catching an echo of the last sounds that came to his ears before a gunshot ended his life ~ the footsteps of a man seeking to avenge his sister’s honor, and who perhaps still strode with grim determination on a long-vanished boardwalk.

~Ethan Knightchilde, President


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

November 14, 2019 at 7:30p.m.

The Annual Meeting of the Ghost Town Club is scheduled for the November meeting of each year. The purpose of the meeting is for the election of officers. A slate of officers will be presented to the membership and vote taken. All members are encouraged to attend the meeting.

Shaun Boyd, curator at History Colorado will present a program on Florence Martin. Plus, during our meeting in November we’ll have the Holiday Craft & Gift Sale (see details below).

Calling all creative GTC members willing to donate items for this special event to be held at the November 14, 2019 meeting! 

Photographs ~ Original Art – Crafts ~ Gift Baskets ~ Baked Goods ~ Seasonal Gifts
Proceeds benefit the Ghost Town Club Preservation Fund. Note:  Any unsold items will be returned to the donors at the end of the night.

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.


Upcoming Field Trips

Museum of Boulder Field Trip

WHEN: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 from 10am-2pm**

WHERE: 2205 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302

TRIP LEADERS: Ray & Dottie Imel, Kevin Jochems, & Shannon Kanan

WHAT:  We will visit the Museum of Boulder (formerly the Boulder History Museum) as well as the Museum’s next door neighbor, the historical Carnegie Library. The Museum of Boulder’s 75th Anniversary exhibit, featuring 75 artifacts, will be on display.  Other exhibits include The Boulder Experience and an exhibit celebrating the American Bison. Lunch will also be on the agenda for the day.  Additional information at the October GTC meeting.

BONUS:  The Carnegie Library has generously offered to honor special requests from GTC members to view historic photos and other materials about the Boulder County
area that are in the Library’s collection. If you have an interest (historic topic, person, place, event, etc.),  please inform Shannon Kanan by Friday, October 11th (303-929-5032) and she will forward your request to the Carnegie Library.  If it is in their collection, it should be available when we visit on October 16th.

SIGN UP:  Sign up at the October GTC meeting or call Shannon Kanan (303-929-5032).

COST:  Museum admission is: $8 (seniors, youth, students), $10 (adults), or free for members of the Museum of Boulder.

PARKING:  There is limited free parking next to the Museum of Boulder and a parking garage (fees apply) at 1100 Spruce St. (approx. 1 block away).

** Field Trip participants are welcome to stay &  enjoy the museum’s exhibits until 5p.m.

 

Field Trip Report

Trip to Raymer by Kem Barney

Sponsored by the Friends of Raymer, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the event on Saturday, June 1, was termed “Art & History Day on The Prairie”. Raymer is located at the southern edge of the Pawnee National Grasslands northeast of Greeley on Highway 14. Raymer is an occupied town with several families living there. Several members of the Ghost Town Club attended the event. Beginning at 9:00 a.m., a delicious brunch was served at the Community Building by volunteers from the Friends of Raymer. The building (built in 1924) serves as the social center of the community and has been restored thanks to the Lions Club that meets there. After a quick tour of Centre Avenue (Main Street buildings all needing restoration), the two repurposed school buses stopped at the windmill museum at the edge of town. The escorted tour then headed north and west stopping at several one room school houses now abandoned as well as a ghost town, Kalous. Lunch was served at the Hightower Spring Ranch followed by stops at three other abandoned one room school houses. A stop at the Nelson Ranch was made to see a stone barn built in 1878. The final stop at the historic Raymer cemetery featured one grave marking the final resting spot of a Civil War veteran. Some of the Ghost Town Club group stayed for the optional Alumni Dinner at the community center. Everyone enjoyed the event and experienced a true sense of community.


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!