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
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.