Letter from The President
Greetings Ghost Towners,
This will be an historic year for the Ghost Town Club. We will all be learning how to continue having our meetings virtually and safely by navigating ZOOM and practicing social distancing until we can finally meet again.
I am so grateful for everyone who has enthusiastically contributed their special talents and skills for the perpetuity of Ghost Town Club, its members and mission. Together we will survive this pandemic crisis.
I am especially indebted to Ethan for hosting the meetings on his personal account, providing specific instructions, and the many practice meetings. I hope you all have read the instructions Ethan mailed on Aug 26th, uploaded the ZOOM app and have participated in at least one practice meeting. This is the only way we will be able to have meetings in the foreseeable future, so we will just have to make do if we want to have Ghost Town Club programs. I will be the first to admit that I am not technically astute and had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the computer world by my grandkids. So, if I can learn this, you can too.
I also especially want to thank Charles Russell for setting up the Facebook account “Ghost Town Club of Colorado Community” which has acquired a following of over 600 members. This page is purposed for educating the public about ghost towns, respecting private property, taking only pictures and leaving only footprints so everyone can enjoy these historic sites. Josh Robinson has posted many excellent photos of historic sites, many of which I have never previously visited. There is also a referral to the http://www.ghosttownclub.org web page for those interested in joining the Ghost Town Club. I encourage everyone to visit the Facebook page and, of course, visit our own awesome website too.
I am looking forward to conducting the first ever virtual Ghost Town Club meeting with the help and guidance from our host, Ethan Knightchilde. He has suggested that all committees default to “no report” and raise your hand only if you have anything to report or have any announcements. He will answer in the order in which they are received. Of course, that means that you will have previously learned how to “raise your hand” and how to ask a question through “chat” at one of the practice meetings. So please come prepared to enjoy seeing each other again and watch the program while having your refreshments in the privacy of your own homes. See you on Thursday, September 10 at 7:00 PM.
~ 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
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.