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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

Letter from The President

November 2021

The first in-person meeting of the Ghost Town Club at Grace United Methodist Church since March of 2020 went very well. Many thanks to Ethan Knightchilde for handling the intricacies of setting up the Zoom meeting for members unable to attend in person. This was the first attempt at having a remote broadcast at a live meeting and except for a few glitches with a screaming microphone, I believe it went very well.  We’re going through a learning curve of what works and what doesn’t. I’m sure it will just get better and better.

At the November meeting and all consecutive meetings, we will have a church-required sign-in sheet along with our regular sign-in book. For members that have not already filled out the church-required waivers, there will be more waiver forms available to sign. We will continue with the protocol that the church is mandating for our continued attendance: masks, set up your own chair, sanitize and replace your chair at the end of the meeting, bring your own snacks, water will be provided, and pack out any trash.

November is our annual meeting when we will be taking nominations and voting in new officers for 2022. The positions up for re-election are President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, and two members of the Board of Directors—each for a two year term. We will need some volunteers for the banquet, greeting and refreshment committees as well as other Committee Chairs. I will be serving a two year term on the Board and chairing the Banquet Committee as part of the duties of the exiting President, and I will be helping Jane Elliott with refreshments when we return to having them in 2022. Now is the time to get more involved by serving on a Committee and have a voice in the future of our Club.

It has been a rewarding and great learning experience for me by serving in the positions as President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Membership Secretary, Board Member and serving on various committees over the past 25 years. I encourage everyone to step up and share your unique talents. It’s been fun. So let’s do this!

~ Shirley Miller, President


From Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Matters by Shanna Lewis with CPR’s Ryan Warner

October 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

(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.


Upcoming Field Trips

February 26th – Tentatively Snowshoe trip to Boston

March 26th – Tentatively Snowshoe trip to Saints John – a Ghost Town Club tradition


FIELD TRIP REPORT for PERU CREEK AND IT’S SPANISH FLAVORED GHOSTS: CHIHUAHUA, ARGENTINE, THE PENNSYLVANIA MILL, AND THAT OTHER GOOD SAINT JOHN
By Josh Robinson

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On September 25th The Ghost Town Club of Colorado enjoyed a trip led by Josh Robinson up Peru Creek with a second half of day featuring a stop in St’s John. We met in the parking lot at the Snake River Saloon and began with the morning report which included a share of information and photographs along with a tantalizing hook about a Mystery Guest who would be joining us during our second half of day adventures. The group was ready, rearing and excited! Gary Wallden shared a great map that served as our large-scale visual for the day, Jason Messing debuted his full-on 19th century gear and we had one guest in attendance.

We loaded up drove up to Peru Creek. From there we arranged 4×4 rides and began our gradual climb back the valley. Our first stop was at the ruined site of Chihuahua. This was anticipated to be one of the highlights of the trip, but turned out not as planned. As of last season 2020, the site still had a beautiful single-story house, with roof. Much to our dismay, the last standing house had been destroyed. The building appeared to have been dismantled down to about 4 logs high and the remaining walls carted off. The other scattered ruins of the site had also been disturbed and dismantled. A sad ending to the last remnants of the formerly important town site. The group mourned.

From there, we moved to the ghost of Argentine/Decatur/ Rathbone…take your pick of names. We explored the ruined primary street and the few sunken log buildings scattered at its Western edge. Roger Callender identified one as a ruined livery stable and the group discussed his findings including a feed trough still along one wall. At the primary street we utilized 19th century photographs to make out what buildings had been there, putting life to the neat row of ruined cellars and foundations. Jason sent the drone up and captured images of our group from above as we explored the Mill.

We then moved down the road to the great ruin of the Pennsylvania Mill. The group rested here for lunch and explored the building afterwards at great length. The Mill was massive with much of its equipment buried under great mounds of timber. One end of the building is still precariously upright at 3 levels high. Jason then sent the drone up and captured images of our group from above as we explored the Mill. The group then loaded up and began the steep 4×4 road to the upper tram building of the Pennsylvania mine. The views were spectacular, and the surface buildings were too. Several folks explored the upper tram building climbing into its depths exploring complete equipment hanging on the edge of the mountain. Others spotted mines high on the opposing ridge and mountain face, Jason flew the drone over for a closer look. From there we began our journey back down the way we came up. Along the way Dennis Kristensen’s keen eyes located the Chihuahua Cemetery as we passed by. This was previously unlocated by Josh or anyone else on the trip.

Down again at pavement, we began our second half of the day’s adventure starting in Montezuma. We loaded up the vehicles again and started the steep climb up the shelf road to Sts. John. Arriving on the Main Street and exploring the many ruins along it, including the Boarding house and Hotel, the Assay office and the still standing Mine Superintendent’s home. The group had been anxious to meet the Mystery guest all day and knew the time was now! Finally, we would meet the mysterious man who would share his breadth of knowledge about the site. All day Josh had been dropping clues about the Mystery Guest’s identity, and still no one knew for sure who it was …the anticipation was great! We looked and looked for him, and it turns out….he was looking for us! While the group was on one side of the townsite-our Mystery guest was on the other!! The guest was there, and we were there, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Mystery guest was our very own Ron Ruhoff who had also led this very same itinerary in 1960. Lucky for the group, we ran into a friend of Ron’s there, and he assumed the role of the Mystery guest and shared with us his cabin, some stories and photographs Ron had given him of the site. So, we ended up with two Mystery Guests, one we missed, and one we didn’t know we had!

Overall, it was a fantastic day, and we covered a lot of ground; from the recently destroyed Chihuahua site, to the unassuming Argentine, the Giant Pennsylvania Mill and its tram building, to the near miss Mystery Guest at Sts. John. We had a Blast. After the trip was over several of us returned to where we began at the Snake River Saloon. Here we relaxed and took in a hearty meal, enjoying good company, good food and reflecting on the day’s adventure.


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!