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.
What do we do?
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.”
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
Letter from the GTC President – The Promise, January 2019
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
~ William Wordsworth
from “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
Traditionally, the beginning of the year offers a kind of fresh start. We make our resolutions; and if we are in earnest, we keep them. We may even decide to live each day by holding dear the advice and implicit warning of “carpe diem.” Far too quickly however, ever-present mundanity lulls us back into thinking all will remain just as it is. We put things off, secure in a belief we know to be false: that we have been promised tomorrow, next week, next month, next year or longer. There will always be more time; perhaps when we are less busy, we can begin to “dance as if no one is watching.”
In contemplative moments however, we understand that we were never promised anything more than a lifetime–whether it lasts a few short years or more than a century. Youth recedes ever further into memory; and, new sights “appareled in celestial light” ever more rarely capture our restless gaze. Regrettably there is only so much space in Neverland; and Peter is not in the habit of entertaining those who have decided to grow up.
The other side of that coin however is that we have seen and experienced wondrous things. As we begin the New Year and move toward our 61st Anniversary this March, I ask you to join me in making these resolutions:
1) LABEL your photos, slides, postcards, and other ghost town memorabilia. No one but you knows the where, who, what, why, and when behind them.
2) WRITE instructions for their disposition or distribution, and file those instructions with your important papers. If you do not believe any of your family members will want certain things, please consider donating appropriate items to the GTC for the archives and/or preservation fundraising. Don’t let your lifetime collection of books, memorabilia, and Kodak moments end up in the trash or the Goodwill pile.
3) SHARE at least ONE of those unique ghost town memories with us. Write it or record it on your phone or computer; send me the digital file; and, I will transcribe it as time permits. Should you decide to send a voice recording, understand that I will never have enough time to transcribe a half-hour ramble.
4) RESOLVE to keep the above three resolutions, and hold them in earnest.
~ Ethan Knightchilde, January 2019