Letter from The President
Greetings Ghost Towners,
As I watched the Inauguration events, I was moved to tears at the many messages of healing and unity and the return to the respect, decorum and solemn dignity of our country. I mourned along with our nation for the 400,000+ people that suffered horrible deaths from the virus. The terrible event of January 6th made me realize how dangerously close we came to losing our cherished democracy.
This has become an historic year that I hope we will not soon forget. We need to make sure our children, grandchildren and great grands are taught the real unvarnished truth about the history of this nation. This subject has been sidelined and sanitized in many schools while taking more time preparing for SAT tests.
Our Ghost Town Club is based on past history, but the unprecedented current events need also be remembered and lessons learned from them. Years from now when I hope to have great grandkids, I can tell them stories from my lifetime and how we coped, just as my grandparents made it through WWI, WWII, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl and as Joanie also discussed in the previous June 2020 Gazette about her grandparents and parents.
Lessons learned for me are to stay informed, verify that information, be true to my convictions, practice tolerance and kindness, to serve and not become complacent expecting that others will do what needs to be done. That is one of the beautiful things that I see in our Ghost Town Club. So many people contribute in their own special capacity and it makes me very proud and honored to be able to serve along with all of you. God bless all who are called to serve others.
~ Shirley Miller, President
Past Letter from November 2020
Greetings Ghost Towners,
November will be our Annual Meeting on Zoom and I will be asking for a motion to approve the continuation of the officers, board members and committee chairs through 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic interruption. We had discussed this at previous board and Zoom meetings and those involved were in agreement as to continuing their positions pending a vote at the Annual Meeting. If anyone involved has had a change of plans and feels they cannot continue their positions, please speak up now so we can recruit and nominate replacements.
As the holidays approach I am sure all of us are feeling apprehensive about gatherings with our families and friends. The virus is not simply disappearing just because we are tired of it, but is spreading at an alarming rate. As I have mentioned in a previous letter, I work in a lab that is doing COVID-19 testing. Just a few weeks ago the positivity rate for asymptomatic patient screenings was around 5%. This week it has climbed to 9%, and this is just for seemingly healthy individuals that are planning travel, surgeries, and returning to work or school. You may be a carrier, not have any symptoms, and still infect others. It is astonishing to me when I see newscasts of crowds at conventions with no social distancing and few wearing masks. The virus is not going to go away if people keep giving it a place to live. While the virus itself is not alive, just some biological molecules, it needs live cells to propagate. Tiny droplets from people merely speaking allows it to transport to the respiratory tract where it invades the cells, hijacks our DNA mechanism and uses it to replicate itself thousands of times while causing destruction of lung tissue. Too many people with risk factors such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, COPD or just being a senior citizen, have died horrible deaths in isolation from their loved ones. Heartbreaking!
As scary as this sounds, there are ways for businesses and churches to open and people to congregate safely by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, frequent handwashing and sanitizing surfaces. The field trip to Stumptown and the picnic at Coffey’s are examples of how this can be done, and hopefully we can also have our banquet safely in April. Having to wear a mask is not an infringement of one’s freedom, but a moral obligation to protect each other from this scourge. So if everyone uses common sense and safe practices, we can enjoy the holidays with a sense of peace and not dread. Forgive my ranting but I just had to get this out as I see this happening every day. Wishing everyone safe and blessed celebrations this year.
~ 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
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.”