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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.”


Introductory note from the President – July 2019

In place of a letter from the President, enjoy the following recollection from one of this year’s Vice Presidents as seen through the eyes of a ghost town resident.

~Ethan Knightchilde

GILMORE, IDAHO – JULY 1990
By Sally Alt

In July 1990, John and Dawn Nicholson led Ghost Towners and guests on a week long tour of Idaho ghost towns. One of these towns was Gilmore, which had numerous buildings remaining, and which they believed to be deserted. But as we explored the town, a man with a long white beard and rifle approached us. He looked like the epitome of a mountain man hermit.

This was Dick Moll, the sole resident of Gilmore. A few years later, he and his brother Bob produced a history of Gilmore, entitled A History of Gilmore Past and Present. Here is Dick’s description of that day:

A short time later that summer, on Monday, July 16, 1990 to be exact, Dick returned to Gilmore from his water master duties as usual. However, on that day when he turned onto the road into Gilmore he was confronted by an unbelievable sight. His town of Gilmore was overrun with campers, trailers, and motor homes. They appeared to be parked about three deep from one end of the town to the other.

As he drove up to the Gilmore Mercantile, the scene was even more unbelievable. Gilmore was crawling with people – there were people everywhere! Well, Dick drove on to his home as quickly as he could and took care of his groceries. Then he started walking back towards town to see what was going on. As he was angling over to Porphyry Avenue (Gilmore’s Main Street), he spotted a lady walking up past the powerhouse ruins and heading his way. So he waited for her to catch up with him, and then he asked her who they all were and where were they from. She explained that they were members of the “Colorado Ghost Town Club” and were touring Idaho Ghost Towns.

They had been walking along as she told him all this, so they were in front of the Pierce House when Dick told her that he lived in Gilmore. Well that lady seemed to come unglued! She startled Dick by yelling as loud as she could for a guy named “John.” Dick was grateful for the relative silence that returned when John appeared on the scene followed by a crowd of club members.

Upon learning that Dick was a current resident of Gilmore, this fellow introduced himself as John Nicholson, the coordinator of the tour. He explained that each summer they spend two weeks visiting ghost towns in the different states throughout the West. John and his club members were surprised and fascinated to meet someone who was actually living in Gilmore. All of the information they had indicated that Gilmore had been completely abandoned for a long time.

Of course, Dick answered many questions. As they walked along, he pointed out some of the buildings and explained a little of the history of Gilmore. John called all of the cub members together for an informal conference in front of the Gilmore Mercantile. It seems that Gilmore was to have been nothing more than a lunch stop before continuing on to Salmon. Salmon was to be their final destination for the day. After their arrival in Salmon the members were to be on their own for the rest of the day.

When John finally managed to get all the club members together (there were about 70 of them), he asked Dick if he would be willing to show them around and tell the group some of the history of Gilmore. Of course Dick said he would be happy to and suggested that it might be most interesting to tour Upper Gilmore. That suggestion really aroused their curiosity because they had never heard of Upper Gilmore.

John told the group that those who wished to continue on to Salmon as scheduled should feel free to do so, but those interested in touring Gilmore with Dick were urged to stay. They would depart for Salmon later in the day – after the tour.

Almost half of them chose to stay, and together with Dick they had a wonderful afternoon. They impressed Dick as a great bunch of people and they were very much interested in learning about Gilmore. They were very pleased with Dick’s tour and the information he provided. As a result of their visit Dick received a Christmas card with a nice note from Sally Alt, who was President of their club at the time of their visit in 1990.

Dick and I exchanged Christmas cards for several years. I’ve had many wonderful days with the Ghost Town Club of Colorado, but July 16, 1990 will always stand out. Dick died at his cabin in Gilmore on July 7, 2002.


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.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Programs & Monthly Meetings

 

July 11, 2019 at 7:30p.m.

Darrell Arndt will present a program titled “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad — The 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad.” This is a program about the building of the transcontinental railroad, the 150th anniversary celebration this May in Utah of its completion and the rebirth of the world’s largest steam locomotive that traveled to the festivities.

August 10, 2019

Annual Picnic. For details please email us or call us at 303.659.4858.

September  12, 2019 at 7:30p.m.

Ron Ruhoff will present “Adventure Trails to Wyoming, Montana, and Canada.”

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

It’s a Lulu!
(City, that is!)

Saturday, July 13, 2019 at 8am

NOTE: This trip may be postponed due to snow and trail conditions still existing in Rocky Mountain National Park. For updated information please email us or call us at 303.659.4858.

Join us for a classic Ghost Town Club hike to the site of the boom-and-bust town of Lulu (also known as Lulu City, take your pick) near Rocky Mountain National Park. The town existed for only five years, from 1879-1884, but at its peak it had a population of more than 500.

This is considered an easy/intermediate hike on a 7.1 mile loop trail. The average grade is 4 percent and the altitude varies from approximately 9,000 to 9,500 feet.

Dr. Jeremy Sueltenfuss will be co-leading the trip. Dr. Sueltenfuss is an ecologist at Colorado State University, studying restoration ecology in wetland and floodplain ecosystems. He is interested in the ecological impacts we have on the natural world.

We will meet at 8 a.m. at the Colorado River Trailhead, about 9.6 miles north of the Rocky Mountain National Park Grand Lake entrance station. Good parking is available. Bring lunch, water, rain gear.

More information and a signup sheet will be available at the May meeting. For more information please email us or call us at 303.659.4858.

Western Slope Field Trip: Grand Junction, Then And Now

Sept. 30 – Oct. 3, 2019 (optional hike on Oct. 4th)

  • Potluck dinner – Berries and model trains: HO scale indoors and 2,100 feet large scale outdoors.
  • Tour of Orchard Mesa Irrigation District pump and power houses led by head of OMID. See early 20th century irrigation equipment and learn about the history of turning the Grand Valley into a farming area.
  • Visit an alpaca farm and see how the fleece is made into yarn and apparel
  • Cross Orchards Museum: Visit restored Uintah Railroad rolling stock, ancient farm equipment, guided tour of living history museum; learn of future plans for the museum.
  • Museum of the West” After hours tour by Curator and Director who will explain the complex investigation of Alferd Packer including his pistol and other items found near Lake City
  • Real ghost town – Raber Cow Camp and Cabins. Tour Grand Mesa and visit the only remaining cow camp and cabins; lunch at Alexander Lake Lodge
  • Quick stop at Red Mountain Ranch for apples and other seasonal delights.
  • Pioneer Town in Cedaredge consisting of 23 buildings that were brought from their original locations
  • Fort Uncompahgre on the Gunnison River and the Old Spanish Trail. This was Anton Rubidoux’ fur trading post from 1820’s to 1844. Re-enactors will give tour. Dutch oven meatloaf dinner.
  • OPTIONAL HIKE on last day. 7 mile round trip hike in Dominguez Canyon to see Indian Rock Art. Route is along the original Rio Grande Narrow Gauge and Gunnison River.
  • Eagle Rock Shelter – Oldest ghost town in Colorado.Watch for further details.

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

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!