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.