Letter from The President
As the weather warms and more people get their vaccinations, I am looking forward to resuming our group activities and field trips.
One of the unique and somewhat enigmatic places that Carl introduced me to almost 30 years ago was the Calhan Paint Mines located about 30 miles northeast of Colorado Springs. It reminded me of the Bad Lands of South Dakota, but this place had clay colored by iron oxides that resulted in red, yellow and purple formations. At that time it was known as the Calhan Paint Pots.
This colored clay was used in making bricks and pottery at the Garden of the Gods Pottery, the Van Briggle Pottery in Colorado Springs and the Standard Fire Brick Co. in Pueblo around 1900. In 1915 the Calhan Fire Clay Co claimed an area in the eastern part for a quarry. In late 1990 El Paso County acquired 750 acres of the paint mines for conservation. In 2000 the area was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the next year “Paint Mines Historic Park” was created. The area of the park east of Paint Mine Road has been developed with 4 miles of trails and interpretive signs about the history, geology and archaeology. In 2010 the park management called for keeping the area west of Paint Mine Road in its natural state and off limits to visitors to minimize erosion and vandalism.
The memory of this story was recalled by a recent article in the Denver Post titled “Why Can’t We All Respect The Outdoors.” It featured the paint mines and the irreversible damage caused by irresponsible and reckless visitors climbing on the fragile formations and leaving graffiti. This was heartbreaking for me. It also brought home the responsibility that we have as the Ghost Town Club to help to preserve our history and our endangered places by messaging, “Take only pictures; leave only footprints.”
~ Shirley Miller, 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.”