GTC Home

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

Letter from The President

May 2021

This will be a short letter because of time constraints since Carl is still in the hospital.  Thank you for all your prayers and well wishes.  He is improving slowly but has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

I just wanted to call attention to a recent article in the Denver Post about Camp Amache in Granada, Colorado.  The WWII Japanese-American Internment Camp a/k/a Granada War Relocation Center has been a National Historic Landmark since 2006.  U.S. Representatives Ken Buck and Joe Neguse have co-authored a bipartisan bill for the site to become part of the National Park system. The bill will be considered April 21 and the legislation will “provide education for future generations on this dark time in our nation’s history, as well as healing and honor to those that lived it”.

The Ghost Town Club took a field trip to Amache quite a few years ago.  We caravanned to Southeast Colorado to Granada, visited the Museum and toured the site of  Amache.  I was struck by the extent of the camp and the rudimentary barracks that housed more than 7,000 Japanese people in the 1940’s, most of whom were American citizens.  I remember seeing lots of cholla cactus, yucca and vine morning glory and wondered how these industrious people were able to successfully grow vegetables in that poor soil.  So many people were uprooted, lost their homes and businesses during this shameful period in our nation’s history.

I hope that this Bill will create a lasting memorial so that events like this will never be repeated.

~ Shirley Miller, President

April 2021

As I watched the excellent program on Colorado’s Mineral Belt given by Peg Williams, I was struck by the amount of destruction, the lack of safety measures, and resulting pollution from the extraction of the precious metals.  It seems that nothing has really changed that much in the way resources are taken from the earth today other than newer and faster, but not necessarily safer technology.

We saw the BP oil rig explosion in the Caribbean which resulted in loss of lives, killed marine life and caused widespread economic and ecologic disaster.  Recently, there was the leak in an uncapped gas line in Firestone, Colorado which caused an explosion that killed two people, critically injured another and destroyed homes. Even now methane continues to escape into the atmosphere from leaks in wells that are not well monitored and contribute to global warming.  Abandoned mines and tailings piles continue to pollute mountain streams, rivers, the ground water and our reservoirs. The open pit mining operation at Victor, Colorado has carved away a mountain.

Is there no responsibility for cleaning up industrial waste?  Has nothing been learned from past history?  Has the land of the free become a free-for-all for developers?   It seems that more and more effort is needed to extract the fewer remaining resources.  All these minerals are finite.  How many cell phones have been discarded that could have been recycled for the rare metals?  How many of us have at least one piece of  gold or silver jewelry in a drawer, forgotten and unworn, that could be reclaimed?

We members of the Ghost Town Club are concerned with preservation.  Hopefully this includes preservation of the history and stories of  the lives of our early nation.  If history is not remembered and learned from, the same mistakes and disasters will continue.  Our planet’s existence depends on what we do now to save it.

~ Shirley Miller, President

March 2021

Greetings Ghost Towners,

Thank you so much Merrill, for your “Archival Apparitions” at the February program.  That presentation brought back so many memories of fun adventures, camaraderie, and long departed Ghost Town Club members.

One trip that stands out as the best that I can remember was the 8 day motor coach trip to Oklahoma in October, 2017.  I would like to relate some of the highlights to those who could not be there.  The trip leaders were:  Don & Mary Anne McCubbin, Jim & Jo Bell and Lee & Joanie.

Upon first hearing of the trip I thought “What is there so special to see in Oklahoma?”  Silly ignorant me!  Was I in for some amazing and numerous surprises.  Motor coaching with Lee and Joanie is a wonderful experience in itself.  Their extensive research ferrets out the most incredible sites and everything is arranged as far as 10-100 stops every 2 hours, excellent food (the pie place, the chuck wagon BBQ at Will Rogers birthplace ranch) and posh accommodations with hearty breakfasts.  Even on travel days interesting stops are planned. You could not find better docents and trip planners, and Lee is an experienced professional bus driver as evidenced by the way he was able to turn that huge bus around on a closed street in downtown Oklahoma City.

Eastern Oklahoma is beautiful and lush with hardwood forests, tall grass prairies and many lakes, a stark contrast to the arid western side.  The rich history includes vast cattle baron ranches, huge richly appointed oil tycoon mansions, amazing museums with pristine artifacts, artwork, a plethora of Native American cultures and early homesteading history.

We visited the beautiful memorial of the Oklahoma City bombing at the Murrah Building site with its reflection pool, lighted chairs, one for each of the victims (little chairs for the babies) and experienced the well-done and thought provoking interpretive documentary of that fateful day.  The Museum also told of the intensive investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

We were treated to an actual demonstration of the workings of the Nellie Johnstone #1 oil well (it was gushing water not crude).  The Woolaroc Museum on the vast Phillips Wildlife Preserve and the Cowboy Museum are etched in my memory as just incredulous in the quality and quantity of the collections, dioramas, sculptures and artwork.   I could have  spent a week there  instead of just one  day because  there Eastern Oklahoma is beautiful and lush with hardwood forests, tall grass prairies and many lakes, a stark contrast to the arid western side.  The rich history includes vast cattle baron ranches, huge richly appointed oil tycoon mansions, amazing museums with pristine artifacts, artwork, a plethora of Native American cultures and early homesteading history.

We visited the beautiful memorial of the Oklahoma City bombing at the Murrah Building site with its reflection pool, lighted chairs, one for each of the victims (little chairs for the babies) and experienced the well-done and thought provoking interpretive documentary of that fateful day.  The Museum also told of the intensive investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

We were treated to an actual demonstration of the workings of the Nellie Johnstone #1 oil well (it was gushing water not crude).  The Woolaroc Museum on the vast Phillips Wildlife Preserve and the Cowboy Museum are etched in my memory as just incredulous in the quality and quantity of the collections, dioramas, sculptures and artwork.   I could have  spent a week there  instead of just one  day because there was so much to see and appreciate.  I actually saw cotton fields and the Oklahoma “mountains” on the way back through the panhandle.  Everyplace (and there were so many) that we visited was absolutely jaw-dropping and far beyond anything I could have imagined.  Besides all the sightseeing, traveling with Ghost Town Club members and really getting to know them is more than half the fun.  The trip was worth every penny!

I am so looking forward to the end of this pandemic and going on the New Mexico motor coach trip that was planned and twice postponed.  And I hope many of you can find a way to make that trip.  It is sooo worth it.

~ 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

Listen now


 

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.”


Join us!

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.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Programs & Monthly Meetings

No in-Person Meetings Scheduled

(Typical) 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 Banquet: POSTPONED


Past Field Trip Report

STUMPTOWN & LEADVILLE FIELD TRIP
September 12, 2020

Thanks to the combined efforts of many Ghost Towners, a chaos/meetup field trip took place on Saturday, September 12th.  Twenty Ghost Town Club members and guests, properly masked, met at the Ice Palace Park in Leadville, eager to pursue a day of exploring.

After necessary “paper work” was accomplished (waivers and sign-in sheet) the trip leaders provided an outline for our visit to Stumptown with the assist of a 1914 map provided by one of the members.  After the briefing, we began our caravan to Stumptown and on the way stopped and explored the site of Adelaide.  With original stereoscopes of the site and we were able to match the exact spot from where they had been taken.

We then continued approximately three miles to a parking area from which we hiked into Stumptown.  For some of us, the 11,300 foot elevation became apparent as we negotiated two inclines on the hike.  As we walked around the Stumptown site, trip leaders provided a talk on the architecture and archaeology of the site.  Other members also contributed information while we were exploring.  It was great to have so much interaction between the leaders and trip participants while we were learning about the site.

As promised, the site is well preserved and the street grid and rail grade through town were easy to identify.  The train station had a clearly defined foundation and remnants of the platform.  The ruins of a box car was on the railroad grade in front of the station. There are two well-preserved standing frame houses, one a two story in amazingly good shape, and a single story house.  Trip participants had lunch at the site.

After lunch, the group headed to nearby Oro City where we had a walk of the site.  Trip leaders were able to locate the school house and plat much of the Main Street based on an 1895 Sanborn map.  Some of the group then headed for other venues in Leadville or headed back home.  At least eight of the group headed to the Evergreen Cemetery, an optional stop outside of Leadville.

The group didn’t even get to the many other interesting historic sites and museums in Leadville.  This sounds like a good excuse for another trip to Leadville in the future!!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this a successful outing for the Ghost Town Club.

Upcoming Field Trips

FIELD TRIP to SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO: From Ancient Indian Cultures To Space Exploration

POSTPONED UNTIL 2021 – MORE DETAILS COMING LATER

DAY 1:
Today we will make our way to Santa Fe, stopping in Trinidad for lunch enroute. We will be staying in Santa Fe. (Lunch included).

DAY 2:
After breakfast we will depart for Capitan where we will enjoy a delightful lunch at Che Palle. We will visit Fort Stanton which was established to protect settlements along the Rio Bonito during the Apache Wars. Kit Carson, John “Black Jack” Pershing, Billy the Kid, and Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry all lived here. From there we are off to Lincoln where the walk down Main Street is a step back into the Wild West. Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett left their marks; Indians, Mexican American settlers, gunfighters and corrupt politicians made themselves known. The violent Lincoln County War erupted here and this is the town that made Billy the Kid a legend. We will then travel to Ruidoso NM where we will spend the night. (Breakfast and lunch included).

DAY 3:
Today is a day of contrasts – from ancient petroglyphs to space history. We’ll start off at Three Rivers Petroglyphs. It is believed the petroglyphs are the work of the Jornada Mogollon people between 1000 and 1400 AD. Over 21,000 petroglyph sites have been documented, but we won’t have to read them all. After a scenic drive from Three Rivers to Alamogordo, we will visit the New Mexico Museum of Space History where we will take a trip into the origins of our nation’s space exploration program through many fascinating artifacts and displays from the beginning of the space race to landing on the moon. Then we will check into our hotel in Alamogordo. (Breakfast and lunch included).

DAY 4:
Another day of contrasts! First of all we will explore the eerily beautiful White Sands National Monument with its rare white gypsum sand dunes. From there we’ll go to Las Cruces where we will learn about the farm and ranch history of New Mexico at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum. The guided tour will take us through all aspects and the importance of farming and ranching in New Mexico. After lunch is a special visit to the Zuhl Museum located on the New Mexico State University campus. The Museum is part gallery and part museum with beautiful specimens of petrified wood, fossils and minerals. Our hotel for tonight is in Las Cruces. (Breakfast and lunch included, and light dinner at the Kick Back Snacks and Beverages at the hotel.)

DAY 5:
Our first stop we will be the amazing Luna Mimbres Museum in Deming. The Museum is in an old brick Armory building and contains just about any artifact from the Mimbres Valley that you can imagine. It is operated by Historical Society volunteers who are very proud of the collection. The Museum is known for its incredible Mimbres pottery collection. This afternoon we visit the ghost town of Shakespeare! For many years Ghost Town Club Preservation Funds have been awarded to Shakespeare. Designated as a National Historic Site, Shakespeare is one of the “West’s Most Authentic Ghost Towns”. The town was started in 1870 with a silver strike and managed to hang on through the 1930’s. Shakespeare has been owned by the Hill family since 1935 and they have tried to preserve the old buildings and history without commercializing it. A local guide will enlighten us with the history of the town and the Hill family. We’ll spend the night in Lordsburg. (Breakfast and lunch included).

DAY 6:
Ever heard of the famous Hatch chilis? Today we’ll visit the quaint little town of Hatch and learn about and perhaps even taste some of the famous chilis. Then we’ll visit the Village of Hatch Museum, which is ALL about the people of Hatch. We’ll be enlightened with a talk by the Museum Curator. Then, we are off to Albuquerque where we will spend the night. The hotel is a short walk to Old Town Albuquerque if you want to venture there for dinner. (Breakfast and lunch included).

DAY 7:
After breakfast, we will depart for Santa Fe. There you will have time to visit The Plaza to shop and have lunch on your own. We will then travel to Taos where we will have a guided tour of the picturesque Taos Pueblo. Oral history indicates many of the buildings were constructed between 1000 and 1450 AD. Approximately 150 people still live in Taos Pueblo. The Taos Pueblos are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. Tonight we will stay in Taos, NM. (Breakfast included).

DAY 8:
All too soon it’s time to head north stopping at Fort Garland Museum in the San Luis Valley. We will have a guided tour of this well-preserved fort that operated from 1858-1883. Colorado Historical Society has done an amazing job of preserving this Fort and its history. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds before reboarding the bus and departing for Denver. (Breakfast and lunch included).

Price includes deluxe motorcoach transportation, hotel accommodations for seven nights, baggage handling, entrance fees to all attractions, local interpreters and guides and meals as indicated. Does not include items of a personal nature, meals not listed, alcoholic beverages or medical/cancellation travel protection plan.

Cost for double occupancy is $1,595 per person. Single occupancy is $2,095. Email us for more information or a reservation form.


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!