The Ghost Town Club of Colorado is an active and energetic group of people with diverse backgrounds who share an interest in the history of the west, especially Colorado. We honor the significant contributions of many people throughout history with our strong desire to study, learn from, and preserve ghost towns and the memory of the people who built and lived in them. Most importantly, we are a group of friendly people who enjoy getting out, socializing, and having fun!

We are a 100% volunteer-run organization. Our board of directors consists of six members who are elected to two-year terms. The president, vice-president, and other officers are elected for a single year term. Various sub committees plan and execute club functions such as programs, field trips, preservation fund awards, and volunteer activities.

History of the Ghost Town Club of Colorado

On October 21, 1957 the State Historical Lecture series presented Mr. Francis Rizzari in a program titled “Ghost Towns, Then and Now”. The crowd in attendance that evening was so large and enthusiastic that Mr. Rizzari was asked to repeat his lecture the following year.

Mr. Rizzari’s first lecture was obviously not forgotten for it was announced that following the Feb. 17, 1958 Historical Society Lecture, those interested in the formation of a “ghost town club” should remain seated … nearly everyone did! Then, Mr. John Farr asked that everyone sign up for a mailing list, and said that information regarding the first meeting would be mailed to them.

A small group then met at the home of Dr. Gerald Coon to decide who the club’s first officers would be. In attendance were Jerry Albright, Gary Balliett, Robert Brown, Connie Hauser, Pete Heiney, Chas. Moffat, Jack Morison and John Farr who acted as chairman.

The first officers were elected as follows: President, Dr. Gerald Coon who recalls, “I had just moved to Denver and was the only one without an excuse for not being president”. Vice President, Jack Morrison; Secretary, Connie Hauser; Treasurer, Gary Balliett. The others would serve as the first Board of Directors. It was decided that the first official meeting would be held on March 3, 1958. This meeting was announced on public radio by Pete Smythe and was also printed in the Rocky Mountain News.  The first program was by Bob Brown, and featured his videos, “San Juan Holiday” and “Jeep Trail to Timberline”.

The club’s name would be decided within the first three meetings.  One club member kept insisting that “toll roads” be added to the name, and finally “Ghost Town Club of Colorado” was “railroaded” through. In December 1963, the Club was legally incorporated with the Colorado Secretary of State.

Membership dues starting in 1958 were $1 per year, and by 1979 had elevated to $5 per year. Over time, postage, printing, insurance and rent have caused minimal dues increases. It’s been many years since we had to raise the dues, and as former club member Dick Ramsey always said, “It’s still the best bargain in town!”

Happy Birthday to the Ghost Town Club of Colorado!

In March, 2023 the Ghost Town Club of Colorado will celebrate its 65th Birthday! Throughout the years, the club has welcomed many wonderful members. Congratulations to the following members who have had continuous membership for at least 2/3rds of those years!

Ron Ruhoff , 1958
Ed Bathke, 1961
PeeWee Zimmerman, 1961
Dick Ramsey, 1966
John & Barbara Dillavou, 1969
Gary Coffey, 1973
Jim & Pat Shepherd, 1974

Darrell Arndt, 1975
June Wilkin, 1977
Karen Ireland, 1977
Sally Alt, 1978
Cyndi Trombly, 1979
Joanie Fields, 1979
Jane Engle, 1981

Josh Robinson

Josh was born in Pennsylvania. His passion for the West, and Ghost Towns specifically can be pinpointed to an American Heritage article he read as a child. Josh studied architecture, urban planning and architectural archeology in Italy and gained a deep passion for the study of the built environment while there.

Josh is a Senior Designer at KEPHART Architects, an instructor at the DU Enrichment program, President of Docomomo Colorado, and is known for his talks and activities relating to Preservation, and Modernist architecture across the city and state. In his spare time, Josh is restoring a 1955 modernist home in Westminster designed by master architect Norton Polivnick.

Josh holds a Bachelor of Architecture from The Pennsylvania State University.

Virginia Fett
Corresponding Secretary

Virginia was born a 4th generation Kansan from Thomas County, where her great grandparents homesteaded in 1885.  After graduating, she re-located to Colorado where she attended Barnes School of Commerce and DU’s Business College for Women.

She hired out with the Colorado and Southern Railway in 1969. Through mergers, she worked for the Burlington Northern Railroad and later the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway for 37.5 years. Specifically in the Regional Engineering Department for the Chief Engineer and Signal Engineer.

Virginia, and former husband Carl, were invited by former GTC members Bob and Nancy Smith to attend a meeting in 1984, and were instantly hooked!   After three years on the waiting list, they became official members.

Virginia enjoys reading, classical music, opera, playing piano, and has a passion for all the Ghost Town Club members and activities!

Ashley Doty
Recording Secretary

Ashley was born in Fargo, ND, and moved to Colorado at the age of seven. Her love of history started at a young age on road trips visiting her grandparents in Montana and North Dakota. Her father had the family stop at every battlefield and historic site along the way.

Ashley visited the ghost town of Keota, CO, at the age of 16 and was drawn to the beauty of the abandoned town that held such a rich history. Since 2016, she and her husband, Nathan, have been traveling around Colorado documenting ghost towns, mines, and abandoned homesteads through photography and researching their historical background. They have also visited ghost towns in North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa. Ashley and Nathan joined the Ghost Town Club in December 2021.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Gerontology from the University of Northern Colorado and currently works for the State of Colorado.

Pegi Emmett

Pegi is a 3rd generation Colorado native. Her grandparents knew Buffalo Bill and her grandfather opened a mercantile on 16th and Larimer in 1906. Pegi’s love of Colorado originates from her many years of snow skiing and her four summers as an overnight counselor at a camp in the Mount Evans valley.

Pegi’s career as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist included 45 years managing clinical and clinical research laboratories. In retirement, she teaches part time on-line for Colorado Community colleges.

2023 Board of Directors

2022-2023 Sally Alt, Shannon Kanan, and Shirley Miller
2023-2024 Ron Ruhoff, Ed Bathke, and Gary Wallden

2023 Committee Chairs

Archivist/Historian: Merrill Emmett
Audio Visual: Ethan Knightchilde
Book Sales: Gary Wallden
Calling: Ed Bathke
Gazette: Joanie Fields
Greeters: John and Barb Dillavou
House: Dennis Kristensen
Preservation: Jason Messing
Program & Trip Planning: Ashley Doty
Refreshments: Jane Elliot
Social Media: Josh Robinson
Steering: (rotating chair, open to all members)
Website: Jason Messing

We are grateful for the efforts of the above club members!

Get Involved

The efforts of each club member contribute to our success and fun-loving spirit!  Join us today and help make a difference. You’ll get better acquainted, and you will be a contributing part of the vibrance, well being, and longevity of the club.

Header Image Credit: “Russel Gulch” by GTC member John Mulhouse