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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

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.

What do we do?

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.”

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


Join us!

We invite you to attend a monthly meeting to learn more about us. Our membership dues are $25 per year. Join GTC today! Costs for field trips vary based on distance and length.


Letter from the GTC President – A Year of Anniversaries, November 2018

Over the last ten months of Gazettes (and in spite of the space given over to prodding you all into action), we have shared stories, reminiscences, and anecdotes about the discovery of gold on the American River; the secession of Rough and Ready, California from the United States; an unimaginable tragedy and a letter of lost love discovered in Oregon; the birth of the Ghost Town Club of Colorado; an anniversary picnic on a GTC field trip; and, the call of distant roads and the allure of those less traveled by.

In this penultimate entry for 2018, I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look at some notable anniversaries that are related to the focus of our club and mutual interests:

215 years ago April 1803: the United States seeks to purchase New Orleans and its environs for up to $10 million from France. Napoleon offers the entire Louisiana Territory – 828,000 square miles – for just $15 million dollars. The acquisition doubles the size of the U.S., which used $3 million in gold for a down payment. Later in the century, gold strikes around Helena, Montana alone would amount to more than double the purchase price.
190 years ago 1828: a) Gold is discovered in the Ortiz Mountains of New Mexico in what was then a province of Mexico. It takes approximately three months for the news to travel to St. Louis. b) Gold is discovered in Georgia. One of the first boomtowns is named Auraria, based on aurum, the Latin word for gold. Prospecting and mining operations would soon spread onto Cherokee land. Despite a favorable court judgment recognizing the Cherokee as a sovereign nation, President Andrew Jackson forcibly removes them from the gold fields.
170 years ago January – February 1848: James W. Marshall discovers gold in the tailrace of a sawmill he was building for Captain John Sutter in Alta California, Mexico. Nine days later, Mexico cedes the territory to the U.S. as part of the treaty ending the Mexican-American War.
160 years ago 1858: Gold is discovered in the interior territories that would eventually become Colorado, Arizona, and Montana. In early November a group of Georgian prospectors establish a camp named “Auraria” south of the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek in Kansas Territory. Later that month, “Denver City” is platted and named in honor of Territorial Governor James W. Denver. Auraria is incorporated into Denver 18 months later.
155 years ago 1863: Sheriff Henry Plummer is elected Sheriff during a “crime wave” of killings and stagecoach robberies in Bannack and Alder Gulch. Later that year a Vigilance Committee is formed and which eventually hangs Sheriff Plummer as the alleged leader of the outlaw gang.
125 years ago 1893: The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in response to the Panic of ’93 results in the near-complete abandonment of many silver camps throughout Colorado and the West.
105 years ago October 22, 1913: The future ghost town of Dawson, New Mexico, experiences the second worst coal mining disaster in U.S. history when a dynamite charge ignites coal dust in Stag Canyon Mine #2. Only 23 of the 286 men arriving for work that morning survive. Less than ten years later, 123 men are killed in an explosion in Stag Canyon Mine #1. Decreasing demand for coal and the expiration of a 25-year contract with the Southern Pacific Railroad bring an end to the town in 1950 when it is sold and razed.
100 years ago 1918: Facing both labor and material shortages, many gold mines in the western U.S. shut down despite increased recovery using the cyanide process.

Next month we will take one last look back. Stay tuned.

~ Ethan Knightchilde, November 2018

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Programs & Monthly Meetings

November 8, 2018

Lee Whiteley will present the history of placer gold mining in Central City’s “Richest Square Mile on Earth”. This very unique program will be illustrated by the dioramas built by woodcarver Hank Gentsch.

By the way, Dues Are Due!

It’s that time of year again! Dues are due by December 31, 2018. Send in your check for dues and preservation donations. Payments can also be made through PayPal. Dues are $25 per year per member — Still the best bargain in town!

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.


Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting of the Ghost Town Club of Colorado is held each November.
This year it is scheduled for November 8, 2018.  The slate of officers for 2019 will be presented for vote, as well as any other business to come before the meeting.


Upcoming Field Trips

From Ancient Indian Cultures to Space Exploration: A Trip to Southern New Mexico

May 8- 15, 2019

Please join us for an 8-day Motor Coach Trip of Southern New Mexico. We will visit museums, historical sites, and ghost towns spanning the times of the Mimbres and Mogollon Indian Cultures, to Billy the Kid, to the story of reaching Outer Space. The trip will include museums, forts, petroglyph sites, and the culture of Southern New Mexico. We will top it off with a visit to National Parks and the history of Space Exploration. Cost and more details will follow in upcoming Ghost Town Club Gazettes. This should be an exciting and educational trip for all.

For additional details about any of the field trips listed below please email us or call us at 303.659.4858.


Past Field Trips with Reports

Colorado Yellow Cake: The History They Tried to Bury on September 7-11, 2018

We visited Uravan, Bedrock, Paradox, Hanging Flume, Silverton, Old Hundred Mine, Mayflower Mill, Palisade Peaches and much more! The Ghost Town Club has been instrumental in helping support and preserve many of the sites through donations from the Preservation Fund. (Itinerary: The Ute Indian Museum in Montrose, Million Dollar Highway, Old Hundred Mine, Mayflower Mill, Naturita, Uravan, Bedrock, Paradox, Hanging Flume, Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway, Gateway Auto Museum, Enstroms Candy Factory + Wine Pairing Dinner)

FIELD TRIP REPORT

On a beautiful Colorado morning, 20 Ghost Towners and 9 guests left Denver headed for southern Colorado and a trip into history. As usual there were breaks every two hours and great lunch stops. Friday afternoon found us at the Ute Indian Museum in Montrose. We were given an overview description of the Museum and then were left on our own to explore. It is one of the best venues to learn of the Ute way of life.

The first night was spent at Montrose and the next morning we headed for Silverton and the Old Hundred Mine. After donning slickers and hard hats, we were given a tour of the mine itself, riding a cart 500 feet into the tunnel. We were given a demonstration of the workings of the mine, from the days of working with only candles for light to present day. We also learned the finer points of working with dynamite.

After lunch in downtown Silverton we went to the Mayflower Mill. Bev Rich of the San Juan Historical Society talked about how the Mill was saved. Since a tour would involve many stairs, we opted to watch a video which detailed the workings of the mill. After that we spent the rest of the day at the San Juan Historical Museum. Ghost Towners have given many hours and donations to this museum, so it was good to see the results. Dinner was at True Grit Restaurant (of John Wayne fame) in Ridgway, then back to Montrose for the night.

Sunday we headed for Naturita, Colorado where we met our local guides. Jane and Sharon are two women who have spent most of their lives in the area, and are heavily into keeping the history of the area alive. After touring the Museum we had lunch at the Ball Park, then we were back on the bus for a tour of the area.

The story of the Uravan & Naturita area is a story of the making and destroying of a complete town and its importance in the uranium industry, and the Rimrocker Historical Society works hard at trying to have people understand that story.

The Ball Park deserves special mention, as it had been a thriving place when the town was alive, then fell into disrepair when the town was destroyed. The Rimrocker Historical Society undertook to restore the Ball Park. The Ghost Town Club Preservation Fund has given money several years to this endeavor and are responsible for the US flag that flies from the original flagpole and can be seen from the highway
Our tour also included the surrounding area and a stop at the Bedrock store (which was closed). We spent the night in Naturita and the next morning we headed for Palisade traveling the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway.

Our next stop was at the Hanging Flume, which is located on the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway. It is a twelve mile long wooden water carrier attached to the side of the canyon and was built to carry water to a nearby mining site. It took three years to build and was used for three years. Truly an architectural and engineering phenomenon.

Our next stop was at the Gateway Auto Museum. A truly outstanding collection of rare American cars, not primarily “oldies”, but some almost everybody could relate to and had a story about. Lunch was at Gateway, which is a fabulous resort, very unusual for the high desert. Then it’s on to Enstrom’s Candy (need we say more?) in Grand Junction. Next came Kathryn’s Cellars for wine tasting. Our stop for the night was Wine Country Inn where we were treated to a wine pairing dinner – three courses paired with appropriate local wines.

The next day we departed Palisade and were given a tour of an operating shipping warehouse and orchard with many samples, so it was natural to come home with lots of fresh fruits and other goodies.

As we pulled into the Hotel in Denver where some people had left cars and the trip was over, we realized how much history we have had the opportunity to learn and hopefully have made people curious enough to revisit these places on their own.

Cardinal Mill and Nederland Mining Museum on September 12, 2018 at 9:00a.m.

FIELD TRIP REPORT COMING SOON…

We will have a trip to Nederland on September 12th to Cardinal Mill just outside of Nederland. We’ll meet at 9:00a.m. at the Nederland Mining Museum, 200 North Bridge Street, Nederland, Colorado. Some members of the GTC did some work on this mill a number of years ago to stabilize it. It will be very interesting to see how it has been restored.

Please note that only 20 people can be accommodated on the tour this year. Please indicate if you would like to be in the first or second trip. The only way to the Mill is by a van provided by Nederland Mining Museum. The van holds ten people and the attendees will be divided into two groups. The first group will leave the Museum for the Mill at 9:30a.m. The other will tour the Mining Museum. The second group will leave the Museum for the Mill at 11:00a.m., then the first group will visit the Museum.


Field Trip Planning Session

The Steering Committee conducted a productive and exciting field trip planning session at the January meeting. Several ideas were presented by those in attendance and were written on large sheets of paper which were then hung around the room so that everyone could look at the ideas and indicate interest by placing blue sticky dots on trips they’d like to do. Pegi Emmett has taken that information and consolidated it to one sheet for future planning and for volunteering to put together field trips based on the ideas presented. If you would like to work on a field trip, contact someone on the Steering Committee for further help or direction. When you are ready to schedule the trip, give Lee or Joanie a call and the field trip will be put on the calendar. Let’s make this the best field trip year ever!

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!