Letter from The President
“Recalling a fun memory is like smiling on the inside.”
That sentence from Nancy Smith truly says it all. In the spirit of our annual potluck picnic, enjoy the following collection of recollections from your fellow members.
FIELD TRIP POTLUCK
Nancy and Bob Smith (Chandler, AZ – Members since 1969)
Recalling a fun memory is like smiling on the inside. The Ghost Town Club over the years has given me many, many smiles, but the one that stands out is special. When Erma and Jack Morison led a trip, Jack always used his floppy red hat to gather everyone for instructions or questions. When the group moved, you followed the red hat on a tall stick. You just knew that if Jack and his red hat were there, you’d be having a fantastic, historical, group-loving time!
John and Barbara Dillavou (Denver, CO – Members since 1969)
In the late ‘80s, three husband-and-wife teams led a trip to the Idaho ghost towns. At one point during the trip, we had to take care of our laundry; and since there were RV’s and trailers along with cars, we figured we could easily catch up to the group. After a couple of hours we started out and came upon the sign for Bay Horse, where we thought the group had planned on stopping.
The town site was just a short distance off the highway. After parking the Jeep, we got out and walked up to the gate. Luckily the caretaker was there. I asked if our group had stopped and he said no, but he let us in and gave us a complete tour of the town.
On this personal tour he showed us the Wells Fargo Bank building and operated the large elevator that lowered gold and silver to the basement vault. (It still worked.) There was the mill, a few stores, and some houses scattered around; and you could see where a main street once had been. We spent over an hour at the site, and we thanked the man for a great tour. He mentioned that upon seeing our Jeep with a Ghost Town Club license plate frame he knew that we were legitimate and interested in history.
After another two hours of driving we finally rejoined the group as they were pulling out of the first of the sites planned for the day. (As it turned out, inquiries for a visit to Bay Horse had not been made.) Within a few minutes we were on the road again with the rest of the Club; but while the leaders really picked some great locations for us to visit on that trip, I feel sorry that they did not get to experience Bay Horse as we had.
Karen Ireland (Yakima, WA – Member since 1977)
In July 1983, I flew to Montana to catch up with the long trip that summer to Montana ghost towns. I had packed a very small one-person tent. At one campground, Erma Morison was so worried I would get run over by the big motor homes that she found a pennant and made Jack figure out a way to attach it to the top of my tent so it would be seen.
The following year I joined Sally Alt for the long trip through New Mexico. Sally had a small “gutless wonder” (no 4WD), which refused to start after about the second day. Several GTC guys huddled over the engine and eventually found a workaround. Every time after that, I got under the hood and touched a wire to the battery terminals while Sally turned the ignition. The car would start; I’d put the hood down; and away we would go. We were the “Mutt and Jeff team” for the rest of the trip!
Work and life took me back to Oregon and then Washington. I have lived vicariously through the Gazette all these years, “visiting” so many places in its pages. Ethan—thanks for the memories.
I hope others in the club will share stories as well. And on that note, take a look at the call for entries in the search for a special October tale ~ The Ghost Town Ghost Story Contest.
~Ethan Knightchilde, President
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.”