Letter from The President
Greetings Ghost Towners,
I think everyone will agree that the first Zoom meeting of the Ghost Town Club was a success. Thirty-one members and one guest attended. Among those were two members from out of town, Karen Ireland from Yakima, WA and our newest member Bonnie Konopka from Salida, CO. The meeting proceeded smoothly, thanks to Ethan Knightchilde, and the program presenters were able to do the “Share screen” feature without any glitches. This seems to be a very suitable alternative to in-person meetings during this pandemic. I hope more of our members will take advantage of this app so we can get together virtually. Get your grandkids, the kid next door or the Geek Squad to help you set it up.
I understand that the Stumptown chaos trip was also a big success, thanks to Charles Russell and Josh Robinson. I have heard enthusiastic reviews from some members that participated and am eagerly looking for the pictures to be posted on the Ghost Town Club Of Colorado Community Facebook page.
In the real estate section of the Sunday Denver Post on Sept. 13, I saw that the 1886 Beaumont Hotel in Ouray, which was meticulously restored in 2003 to the tune of $24 million, is now available for $8,500,000! When Carl and I spent our first vacations together in Ouray, the old hotel was boarded up. I was thinking it would be a wonderful place to splurge for a night to celebrate our 30th anniversary next year. The San Juan area was one of the first places I visited when I first came to Colorado in 1989. I camped in Yankee Boy Basin, hiked over to the Blue Lakes, climbed Mt. Sneffels and descended quickly in a driving rainstorm. Later when I met Carl, we hiked and 4-wheeled all over the area. We climbed up to the Old Hundred Mine boarding house near Silverton, saw remnants of an old turntable in Corkscrew Gulch, went over Lizard Head Pass, viewed Mt. Wilson from Alta, stopped in Ridgway to see Dennis Weaver’s zero energy house and we also saw where the first “True Grit” was filmed. I especially remember in the movie the vast meadow on Owl Creek Pass where John Wayne challenged the outlaws on horseback with guns blazing. The meadow was really only about the size of a city parking lot. Amazing what they can do with movie photography.
Looking forward to hearing shared memories of your adventures and favorite places in future Gazettes.
~ 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.