Places to Explore

FIELD TRIP DREAMS

For many of us, field trips are a highlight of GTC membership. The office of GTC Vice President carries the responsibility for coordinating certain aspects of field trips. Even though many of our traditional field trips are not looking possible right now, we want to preserve the spirit of field trips and encourage planning and dreaming about field trips for the future.

What kind of field trip captures your imagination…could it be one of the trips on the list in the Gazette, a recent Club newsletter…a trip to a ghost town you have never visited…or maybe a favorite GTC trip from the past that is worth doing again?  Also, even though we can’t visit a particular place in person, we might be able to visit it online, participate in an online event, or read information about a particular ghost town or related subject. In this spirit, we hope members will choose to share online event notices and other links about ghost towns as well as your field trip dreams or ideas.

We have enjoyed the many things that members have submitted to the Gazette the last few months and look forward to other interesting written articles, or email submissions, especially those about ghost towns. Contact us via email if you have suggestions.

We all know that Colorado is a magnificent place to live. But, did you know that there are 25 National Historic Landmark sites in Colorado?

Plus, 3 historic areas within the National Parks in Colorado. Take a look at these amazing historic places right in our backyard! List of National Historic Landmarks in Colorado.

Also, discover Colorado through History Colorado!
Through a network of museums, History Colorado shares the stories of Colorado’s past—its people, its places, and the events that have shaped the sweep of human history. Click to see the list of museums.

Tell us about the places you’ve explored! Send us an email and with your permission, we’ll share your suggestions and experiences on this webpage for other members to enjoy.


FIELD TRIP REPORT for PERU CREEK AND IT’S SPANISH FLAVORED GHOSTS: CHIHUAHUA, ARGENTINE, THE PENNSYLVANIA MILL, AND THAT OTHER GOOD SAINT JOHN
by Josh Robinson

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On September 25th The Ghost Town Club of Colorado enjoyed a trip led by Josh Robinson up Peru Creek with a second half of day featuring a stop in St’s John. We met in the parking lot at the Snake River Saloon and began with the morning report which included a share of information and photographs along with a tantalizing hook about a Mystery Guest who would be joining us during our second half of day adventures. The group was ready, rearing and excited! Gary Wallden shared a great map that served as our large-scale visual for the day, Jason Messing debuted his full-on 19th century gear and we had one guest in attendance.

We loaded up drove up to Peru Creek. From there we arranged 4×4 rides and began our gradual climb back the valley. Our first stop was at the ruined site of Chihuahua. This was anticipated to be one of the highlights of the trip, but turned out not as planned. As of last season 2020, the site still had a beautiful single-story house, with roof. Much to our dismay, the last standing house had been destroyed. The building appeared to have been dismantled down to about 4 logs high and the remaining walls carted off. The other scattered ruins of the site had also been disturbed and dismantled. A sad ending to the last remnants of the formerly important town site. The group mourned.

From there, we moved to the ghost of Argentine/Decatur/ Rathbone…take your pick of names. We explored the ruined primary street and the few sunken log buildings scattered at its Western edge. Roger Callender identified one as a ruined livery stable and the group discussed his findings including a feed trough still along one wall. At the primary street we utilized 19th century photographs to make out what buildings had been there, putting life to the neat row of ruined cellars and foundations. Jason sent the drone up and captured images of our group from above as we explored the Mill.

We then moved down the road to the great ruin of the Pennsylvania Mill. The group rested here for lunch and explored the building afterwards at great length. The Mill was massive with much of its equipment buried under great mounds of timber. One end of the building is still precariously upright at 3 levels high. Jason then sent the drone up and captured images of our group from above as we explored the Mill. The group then loaded up and began the steep 4×4 road to the upper tram building of the Pennsylvania mine. The views were spectacular, and the surface buildings were too. Several folks explored the upper tram building climbing into its depths exploring complete equipment hanging on the edge of the mountain. Others spotted mines high on the opposing ridge and mountain face, Jason flew the drone over for a closer look. From there we began our journey back down the way we came up. Along the way Dennis Kristensen’s keen eyes located the Chihuahua Cemetery as we passed by. This was previously unlocated by Josh or anyone else on the trip.

Down again at pavement, we began our second half of the day’s adventure starting in Montezuma. We loaded up the vehicles again and started the steep climb up the shelf road to Sts. John. Arriving on the Main Street and exploring the many ruins along it, including the Boarding house and Hotel, the Assay office and the still standing Mine Superintendent’s home. The group had been anxious to meet the Mystery guest all day and knew the time was now! Finally, we would meet the mysterious man who would share his breadth of knowledge about the site. All day Josh had been dropping clues about the Mystery Guest’s identity, and still no one knew for sure who it was …the anticipation was great! We looked and looked for him, and it turns out….he was looking for us! While the group was on one side of the townsite-our Mystery guest was on the other!! The guest was there, and we were there, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Mystery guest was our very own Ron Ruhoff who had also led this very same itinerary in 1960. Lucky for the group, we ran into a friend of Ron’s there, and he assumed the role of the Mystery guest and shared with us his cabin, some stories and photographs Ron had given him of the site. So, we ended up with two Mystery Guests, one we missed, and one we didn’t know we had!

Overall, it was a fantastic day, and we covered a lot of ground; from the recently destroyed Chihuahua site, to the unassuming Argentine, the Giant Pennsylvania Mill and its tram building, to the near miss Mystery Guest at Sts. John. We had a Blast. After the trip was over several of us returned to where we began at the Snake River Saloon. Here we relaxed and took in a hearty meal, enjoying good company, good food and reflecting on the day’s adventure.


FIELD TRIP REPORT for ST. ELMO, ROMLEY, HANCOCK,
EAST SIDE OF THE ALPINE TUNNEL
by Dennis Kristensen and Josh Robinson

On the 28th of August, 2021 the Ghost Town Club took a field trip to the ghost towns of St. Elmo, Romley and Hancock and the east Alpine Tunnel rail beds leading to the tunnel. We started off meeting at the Nathrop town post office, driving up the dirt road of Chalk Creek, past the Chalk Cliffs along Chalk Creek and into the town of St. Elmo.

We were met by members of the St Elmo Historical Society and an architect with the Preservation Society and were given an in depth tour of the rebuilt Town Hall And Jail, the original Stark Family Store, Post Office and Hotel. This took the entire morning and the tour was extremely informative and entertaining. These buildings are generally not open to the public.

We had our brown bag lunch on the boardwalk and then headed up the old railroad bed to the towns of Romley, Hancock and Alpine Tunnel. The road was a bit bumpy but our four wheel drives had no problem. There were many sights along the way: mining buildings, railroad trestles, 19th century box cars, (even a wedding).  From the 1800’s rail bridge, one can see the lower tram house of the Mary Murphy Mine, and an entire mountain side of mine shaft rubble, and the Mary Murphy Mine.

Below the bridge are the scattered ruins what was the Main Street of Romley. Today Romley is littered with scattered lumber piles. In  the 1980s the Forest Service and Land and Mine owners destroyed most of Romley due to fears of lawsuits brought on by vagrants living in the unstable structures.

From here we explored two ruined boarding houses and a remarkably intact two story boarding house at the Allie Belle Mine complex.  There were lots of questions about the design of the structure and exterior staircases leading to nowhere.

Then on to Hancock, which is rapidly becoming a ghost of a ghost town.  The ruins are of ephemeral nature.  Armed with historical photographs, we were able to “map out” the main street. The most intact building is about four logs high of what was once a Saloon. The panoramic majestic scenery was more than breathtaking.  We discovered the foundations of the railroad water tower and the remaining parts of the original bridge now mixed in with the new crossing the creek. Again, the still standing town of Hancock in the 1940s was burned to the ground by the Forest Service.

With the excellent commentary by Josh, and inquisitive travel partners we had an incredible day!


FIELD TRIP REPORT for PRESTON, LARIUM, AND THE MYSTERY SITE AT MOUNTAIN PRIDE
by Ethan Knightchilde

On Saturday, August 21, 2021, fourteen ghost towners met in the parking lot of a Breckenridge City Market to explore the remains of Preston, Larium, and a mystery site. Trip leader Josh Robinson handed out materials, discussed the itinerary, and led the carpool to the next gathering point.

All went well until at least two vehicles made wrong turns in the obnoxious roundabouts that have propagated in the Breckenridge-Frisco area like cheat grass in an untended field. Upon regathering, the caravan proceeded on a relatively short route, which included driving through the entry of one of those rich-people-type mountain homes.

At Preston, we parked on the main road across from the ruins of the old boarding house. A nearby placard showed what the scattered lumber on the ground had looked like in 1940 when it formed an actual building. The impressive structure had boasted two entrances not ten feet from each other; the practical uses of such a feature were not lost on those in attendance. The group explored additional structures at the site and noted Mother Nature’s astounding achievement in creating a steer’s head sculpted out of wood.

Lunch called, so we drove further up the road and stopped at the imposing ruins of the Jumbo Mill, the stand-out attraction of which looked like the most giant bingo ball thing in existence.

The second half of the day offered members the choice to head down to Breckenridge for self-guided tours or continue ghost towning in the high country above. Josh led the latter group to the sparse remains of Larium, which held the ruins of a mill and boarding house, a bathtub, a quasi-restored log cabin, and an outhouse notable for being uphill of the residence and boasting a Dutch door entry and windows in its sides.

The proceeding hike brought us past some unusual remains—prospect holes and workings that seemed quite elaborate for dubious returns. Discussion about possible salting of the claim and “giving the shaft” to some unfortunate ensued, which proved a sobering reminder that a gold mine can well be a hole in the ground with a liar at the top.

And the sky wept.

On arrival at the mystery townsite, we were treated to multiple buildings (some under roof) situated along parallel upper and lower streets. As is his custom and forte, Josh pointed out architectural clues that assisted with the interpretation of the site. Interesting remains strewn about in a dump offered additional insights into the years when the camp was likely active (and for how long). Further on, we came across two structures that bore the scars of questionable improvements and expansion by 20th-century residents.

At the far end of the camp, the colossal wreck of the Mountain Pride mill beckoned, inviting exploration and again inspiring wonder at the accomplishments of a generation a century and a half removed. Continuing on, we arrived at our final stop: a spectacular one-and-a-half-story livery hidden in the trees beyond the mill.

All in all, it was yet another great, well-planned, and highly informative field trip researched and led by Josh Robinson. If you have not been on a Josh trip, you’ve been missing out.

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