News & Stories

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

December 2022

Ghost Towners,

Leading up to and now after our annual meeting, this month for me has been a time of reflection on our club. The past year our officers, board and our general body have worked tirelessly to build our club back from what had been a precarious state. In reflection of this past year, I looked at where we were when we started at the beginning of it.

In December of ‘21 after the passing of the Gavel, I had prepared a speech, talking about the things I wanted to see us accomplish in the years’ time. It was printed as my letter in the following Gazette. I said in the opening that The history of our club is something I do not take lightly. I looked at what we had done in the past, and I longed for that club today. The projects we shouldered, the charges we led and the role we played in Preservation, education, study, and enjoyment of our richly historic sites is immense. Primarily our legacy and our work concerning our most valuable and vulnerable resource; Ghost Towns.

After the completion of our November Program, Where were you in Twenty-two?, chronicling our field trips this past year, I received several notes and one major compliment. The feedback in summary was that that program really showed the kind of Club we had again become, and that it was again the club we once were … an active and robust club with a purpose, one that is our purpose statement printed in the cover of your Roster; Our purpose shall be to study, visit, perpetuate and otherwise concern ourselves with the Ghost Towns, mining camps and allied subjects and their history.

I looked at our accomplishments in 2022; In the past year we went from a membership at an all-time low (unseen since our second year 1959) … back up to well over 100. Our new members by the grace of God, very active, and I know we will have an upcoming pool of Club Leaders in the years to come.  We modernized our technical equipment. We rebuilt formerly defunct committees and added new ones. Our programs this year have been on point and in accordance with our purpose, and in my opinion, also of unsurpassed quality. Our activities and field trips in the same vein, robust on point and on brand. Overall, we have accomplished much in a relatively short period of time.

I said our job as officers is to feed the passion of our members, and brother is there a passion.

In summation, I would heartily like to say great work everyone! A big personal thanks I must express to our board, and especially our officers on it. Your tireless work has been incredible and with a passion rarely matched anywhere. For that I am grateful.

I’m also grateful for having had the privilege to serve as your president this past year, and now excitedly I look forward to serving as President in 2023. This coming year we will continue our mission to build our club back. We are off to a great start.

When I ended the first meeting I presided over last year, I charged each of you to go out and share with at least one person your favorite ghost town. I ask you again, to please honor that ask. Mr. Ruhoff said in the film Ghosts of the West, something to the degree that the word Ghost Towns is itself magical. You merely say the word Ghost Towns and their interest is peaked. I say, tell folks about Ghost Towns, specifically your favorite site. They will be interested, and chances are they will be interested in the Ghost Town Club.

Go out and spread the word.

~ Josh Robinson, 2022 President


WILD WEST HISTORY LIVES ON AT CENTRAL CITY CEMETERY

October 27, 2022

Just outside of Central City is the Central City Cemetery where hundreds of gold miners, cowboys and their families are laid to rest.

Fox 31’s Dan Daru reports:


THE FORGOTTEN HISTORY OF COLORADO’S GHOST TOWNS

April 4, 2022

Several members of the Ghost Town Club of Colorado were recently interviewed by journalist Rylee Dunn of the Colorado Community Media Group, in association with the Arvada Press.  Her informative story can be found here:

The Forgotten History of Colorado’s Ghost Towns


From Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Matters by Shanna Lewis with CPR’s Ryan Warner

October 2018

There Are 700 Ghost Towns In Colorado, and Ron Ruhoff Has Visited Many Of Them

Listen now


John Quincy Adams Rollins

The Ghost Town Club of Colorado once received an inquiry asking if anyone could provide information on John Quincy Adams Rollins. The inquiring person turned out to be a distant relative and came across a reference to Colorado. GTC member, Ed Bathke was not only familiar with J.Q.A. Rollins, but able to provide lots of information and even copied a six page article and sent it to the inquirer.


151st Anniversary of the Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad

In May of 2019 we were celebrating the 150th anniversary of joining of the rails of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads with the laying of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point, Utah. In honor of that occasion, please enjoy the following “Railroad Story”.

I was enjoying a tour through Nevada with a group of other tour operators on what they call a FAM Tour. That is an inexpensive tour that states or towns give us so we will become familiar with whatever their location has to offer for tour groups, hoping we will book a tour group there and return.

We had a great time exploring some of the interesting things to see and do in Nevada and eventually we arrived in Ely, the county seat for White Pine County.

One of the activities we participated in was to fill lunch bags for elementary school students who otherwise would not have food to eat over the weekend because the school lunch program is not available on weekends. Teachers were noticing that some students would come to school on Monday morning and have no energy and could not concentrate on school subjects until after lunch. They finally realized the children needed nourishment.

Who knew that some children would go all weekend and not have enough food? Some were from a one parent family who would work on weekends or parents that were so poor they couldn’t afford food. It was a disparaging thought.

The next day however things were much more up-beat and fun. I got to do something most people only dream about as children. I got to “Be the Engineer” on the Nevada Northern Railway. It was the opportunity to be at the throttle and operate a REAL RAILROAD LOCOMOTIVE. Not just a diesel locomotive but a STEAM LOCOMOTIVE too. Oh my God! It is probably the most fun you can have with your pants on…And maybe even with your pants off!

This is not something that you can just wake up and think you want to do. You do need to meet certain requirements like be over 21 years old and have a driver’s license. You also have to be able to climb in and out of the cab and, the hard part, read and understand the safety manual and pass a written exam.

Having passed all of the requirements (it’s not as hard as you might think), I was ready for this great adventure. The diesel locomotive was first. That was a good thing because it is much less complicated than the steam locomotive.

We had a training session inside the cab of the locomotive to learn all of the controls, switches, bells and whistles before we even left the railyard. On the way out to the main line I got to watch as the “real” engineer took the locomotive out of the yard and through several switches before getting on to the main line.

Then the real fun began. It was my turn at the throttle. I sat down in the Engineer Seat and the real engineer went over all of the controls once again to make sure I understood what I needed to do.

How exciting! My turn had finally come! Even with all of the training and explanations of the controls, I was still nervous. And the thoughts went through my head, “What do I do first”. “I hope I do this right”. “If I screw up will he kick me out of the locomotive”?

Well, after a rather jerky start, things started to smooth out and soon I felt like I was Casey Jones at the throttle! TOOT TOOT!!!!

Just when you think you know it all and you are invincible, something will knock you down and put you back in your place. It was time to get in the cab of the Steam Locomotive!

What in the heck are all of those valves and gauges? I have no idea what they do or what they mean? Even after an extensive explanation, I still had no idea. The Engineer said not to worry. He would take care of all of those. I didn’t even have to worry about shoveling coal. He had a guy to do that. So again I sat down in the Engineer Seat and panic struck again, and once again. after a jerky start, things started to smooth out. This time though, I had no thoughts of feeling like Casey Jones. I still don’t know what most of those valves and gauges are. But I do know that the experience is something I will never forget.

And, the most fun of the whole experience is blowing the whistle and making traffic stop when you go through a railroad crossing. What a feeling of POWER!

~ Lee “Casey Jones” Dahl


Why did that bottle turn purple?

(First published in the Ghost Town Club Gazette in September, 1963)

Jerry Coon (GTC’s first President) and I were camped at Monument Valley in Arizona this spring and had gotten up before sunrise to try for a neat picture of the Mitten Buttes and rising sun. Another man and his wife had the same idea, so we struck up a conversation near our readied tripods. They had just hiked the Grand Canyon a few days earlier, as did we. His name was Dr. John Sheldon, a scientist with the Corning Glass Works of New York. He explained that he was doing research on making an optical glass that automatically turns dark when exposed to sunlight in order to design eyeglasses that would also serve as sunglasses as needed. Today we know this as “photo-grey”, “transition”, etc.

I asked him if he could explain why old bottles, which Ghost Town Club people loved to collect, turned purple. “Of Course,” he said, “It’s called solarization. Back in the 1800’s, glass makers came on a popular formula of manganese and iron additives to make a sparkly clear glass. Manganese dioxide, or pyrolucite, has a faint purple color and was added to glass to offset the yellow-greenish cast of the iron compounds. Little did they know, until time passed by, that the ultra-violet rays from the sun would solarize the glass due to electron transfer in the manganese and iron, which have multiple valences. The energy of the absorbed radiation removes an ion from the divalent manganese which is then trapped by a ferric ion. The reaction is written:
Mn(2) + Fe(3) +hv=Mn(3) +Fe(2) and the glass turns purple.”

Dr. Sheldon mailed me this information after he returned to New York. In the 20th century glass makers learned new formulas to make clear glass that would not solarize. Bottles and other glass items that turned purple led to a grand collector sport and included all kinds of historic bottle searching to look for in old town dumps, under outhouses, etc. around ghost towns. Most of us have been familiar with photo-grey glasses for a long time, but back in 1963, it was still a new idea in the laboratory.

~ Ron Ruhoff, 2017 Vice President


Exploration, enjoyment, and preservation of historic sites

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