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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

SPECIAL NOTE: Signed Book

Ghost Town Club member and Author John Mulhouse, who was our July speaker, has signed copies of his most recent book. The cost is $22.00 plus $4.00 for shipping. Go to his website: https://cityofdust.bigcartel.com/.

John has several options of payment. The easiest way to get all of the information is to contact John at the website shown above, or email him directly at jmhouse@cityofdust.com. Make sure you tell him you saw it on the Ghost Town Club website.

Abandoned New Mexico: Ghost Towns, Endangered Architecture, and Hidden History encompasses huge swathes of time and space. As rural populations decline and young people move to ever-larger cities, much of our past is left behind. On the plains or along now-quiet highways, changes in modes of livelihood and transportation have moved only in one direction. John Mulhouse spent almost a decade documenting the forgotten corners of New Mexico through his popular City of Dust project across the legendary Land of Enchantment.


Letter from The President

July 2021

If you were unable to join us on Zoom for the June Ghost Town Club meeting, you missed a very special and unprecedented program.  Kudos to Josh Robinson for stepping up at the last minute because of the schedule change to present the awesome, drone-produced, 8 minute video of a trip to Buckskin Joe.  The views were something that we have never experienced in our many ghost town trips.  Isn’t all this new technology wonderful!

I continue to be amazed and grateful for our technically astute members that have invested so much time and expertise to bring us these new and wonderful adventures.  Ditto for all of the members who have volunteered in many ways to contribute to the life blood of the Ghost Town Club and have kept it going for all these decades.  I especially appreciate that the upcoming suggested field trips are being planned with alternative events included for less active members.  Thank you all for your caring and sharing.

I have a few safety concerns about these upcoming trips and meetings.  Even though I believe that most of us have been vaccinated, there may be some individuals that have under-active immune systems and are unable to make antibodies against the virus in spite of receiving the injections. The vaccines have been reported to be 90% effective and it is the other 10% that needs to be addressed.  Every time the virus reproduces, there is a chance of a mutation event, and these more infectious mutants may not be covered by the current vaccines.  We can’t just throw caution to the wind and feel that everything can go back to normal.  When and if we get back to indoor meetings, the church may have some mandates that we need to follow before we can resume our meetings.  We are all responsible for each other’s wellbeing.

Thank you for your cooperation,

~ Shirley Miller, President


From Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Matters by Shanna Lewis with CPR’s Ryan Warner

October 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

(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.


Upcoming Field Trips

February 26th – Tentatively Snowshoe trip to Boston

March 26th – Tentatively Snowshoe trip to Saints John – a Ghost Town Club tradition


FIELD TRIP REPORT for ST. ELMO, ROMLEY, HANCOCK,
EAST SIDE OF THE ALPINE TUNNEL
By Dennis Kristensen and Josh Robinson

On the 28th of August, 2021 the Ghost Town Club took a field trip to the ghost towns of St. Elmo, Romley and Hancock and the east Alpine Tunnel rail beds leading to the tunnel. We started off meeting at the Nathrop town post office, driving up the dirt road of Chalk Creek, past the Chalk Cliffs along Chalk Creek and into the town of St. Elmo.

We were met by members of the St Elmo Historical Society and an architect with the Preservation Society and were given an in depth tour of the rebuilt Town Hall And Jail, the original Stark Family Store, Post Office and Hotel. This took the entire morning and the tour was extremely informative and entertaining. These buildings are generally not open to the public.

We had our brown bag lunch on the boardwalk and then headed up the old railroad bed to the towns of Romley, Hancock and Alpine Tunnel. The road was a bit bumpy but our four wheel drives had no problem. There were many sights along the way: mining buildings, railroad trestles, 19th century box cars, (even a wedding).  From the 1800’s rail bridge, one can see the lower tram house of the Mary Murphy Mine, and an entire mountain side of mine shaft rubble, and the Mary Murphy Mine.

Below the bridge are the scattered ruins what was the Main Street of Romley. Today Romley is littered with scattered lumber piles. In  the 1980s the Forest Service and Land and Mine owners destroyed most of Romley due to fears of lawsuits brought on by vagrants living in the unstable structures.

From here we explored two ruined boarding houses and a remarkably intact two story boarding house at the Allie Belle Mine complex.  There were lots of questions about the design of the structure and exterior staircases leading to nowhere.

Then on to Hancock, which is rapidly becoming a ghost of a ghost town.  The ruins are of ephemeral nature.  Armed with historical photographs, we were able to “map out” the main street. The most intact building is about four logs high of what was once a Saloon. The panoramic majestic scenery was more than breathtaking.  We discovered the foundations of the railroad water tower and the remaining parts of the original bridge now mixed in with the new crossing the creek. Again, the still standing town of Hancock in the 1940s was burned to the ground by the Forest Service.

With the excellent commentary by Josh, and inquisitive travel partners we had an incredible day!


FIELD TRIP REPORT for PRESTON, LARIUM, AND THE MYSTERY SITE AT MOUNTAIN PRIDE
By Ethan Knightchilde

On Saturday, August 21, 2021, fourteen ghost towners met in the parking lot of a Breckenridge City Market to explore the remains of Preston, Larium, and a mystery site. Trip leader Josh Robinson handed out materials, discussed the itinerary, and led the carpool to the next gathering point.

All went well until at least two vehicles made wrong turns in the obnoxious roundabouts that have propagated in the Breckenridge-Frisco area like cheat grass in an untended field. Upon regathering, the caravan proceeded on a relatively short route, which included driving through the entry of one of those rich-people-type mountain homes.

At Preston, we parked on the main road across from the ruins of the old boarding house. A nearby placard showed what the scattered lumber on the ground had looked like in 1940 when it formed an actual building. The impressive structure had boasted two entrances not ten feet from each other; the practical uses of such a feature were not lost on those in attendance. The group explored additional structures at the site and noted Mother Nature’s astounding achievement in creating a steer’s head sculpted out of wood.

Lunch called, so we drove further up the road and stopped at the imposing ruins of the Jumbo Mill, the stand-out attraction of which looked like the most giant bingo ball thing in existence.

The second half of the day offered members the choice to head down to Breckenridge for self-guided tours or continue ghost towning in the high country above. Josh led the latter group to the sparse remains of Larium, which held the ruins of a mill and boarding house, a bathtub, a quasi-restored log cabin, and an outhouse notable for being uphill of the residence and boasting a Dutch door entry and windows in its sides.

The proceeding hike brought us past some unusual remains—prospect holes and workings that seemed quite elaborate for dubious returns. Discussion about possible salting of the claim and “giving the shaft” to some unfortunate ensued, which proved a sobering reminder that a gold mine can well be a hole in the ground with a liar at the top.

And the sky wept.

On arrival at the mystery townsite, we were treated to multiple buildings (some under roof) situated along parallel upper and lower streets. As is his custom and forte, Josh pointed out architectural clues that assisted with the interpretation of the site. Interesting remains strewn about in a dump offered additional insights into the years when the camp was likely active (and for how long). Further on, we came across two structures that bore the scars of questionable improvements and expansion by 20th-century residents.

At the far end of the camp, the colossal wreck of the Mountain Pride mill beckoned, inviting exploration and again inspiring wonder at the accomplishments of a generation a century and a half removed. Continuing on, we arrived at our final stop: a spectacular one-and-a-half-story livery hidden in the trees beyond the mill.

All in all, it was yet another great, well-planned, and highly informative field trip researched and led by Josh Robinson. If you have not been on a Josh trip, you’ve been missing out.


FIELD TRIP to SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO: From Ancient Indian Cultures To Space Exploration

POSTPONED – 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!