One of the drawbacks to ghost-towning is the sad fact that due to weather, vandalism and general decay, ghost towns throughout the West are slowly disappearing. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the U.S. Forest Service tore down, or burned many historic structures under the guise of returning the land to its wilderness state. In addition, in recent years more people are moving into even the most remote corners of the high country, and building homes or “fixing up” structures in abandoned towns.

As early as 1971, the Ghost Town Club of Colorado began formulating ideas for preserving our vanishing resource. In July of that year, a preservation seminar was held and then a workshop in March, 1974. In 1975 club member John Dillavou became our first Preservation Chair. A Preservation Fund was started in the late 1970’s and a monthly book drawing was established as a fund raiser. In 1982 the first of several auctions was held to benefit Preservation. Each year contributions are made from the Fund to various non-profit organizations, usually for specific projects such as stabilization of historic structures, painting or roofing.

In August 1983 the Club began its own grass-roots preservation effort with the first of many workdays at historic sites throughout Colorado. Our first project, in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society, was the restoration of a cabin at Independence for the use of a “ghost” or summer caretaker. The historic log cabin was shored up and a new roof and floor were installed by Club volunteers. By the end of the day, the “ghost” could be found resting inside his new digs after a hard day of watching the rest of us work!

The following October, a group of volunteers got an “up close and personal” look at Black Hawk’s famed Lace House while painting its ornate gingerbread exterior. In August of 1987, Club members spent a three day weekend putting a new roof on the Duncan House at Animas Forks (see image above). The next year, on a Labor Day weekend field trip to Marble, the Club took a day off from sightseeing to paint the old schoolhouse, now a museum, as well as clear the brush and debris from the site of the Marble finishing plant. In May 1990, we gathered at the Moore House in Central City, a former brothel, to scrape off layers of wallpaper inside, paint portions of the exterior and plant flowers.

The Club’s most ambitious effort so far has been the restoration of the firehouse at Eureka, northeast of Silverton. Volunteers spent a full week in the area in 1993 and again in 1995, putting on a new roof and replacing the siding which had been removed years before by vandals. In 1997, a group assembled at the Denver Public Schools Outdoor Education Center near Jamestown to work on the assay office at one of the historic mines on the property.

~ Rich Dais, 1998 Archivist & Historian

GTC Preservation Fund

The Ghost Town Club of Colorado is dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of ghost towns, mining camps and historic sites. To accomplish this goal, the club created a Preservation Fund to help support numerous preservation projects. Because we are a 501(c)(7) non-profit organization, we are able to earmark 100% of all donations directly to qualified projects protected by a non-profit preservation society.

The Ghost Town Club of Colorado also contributes to the preservation of historical sites by direct involvement in work days. All members who are interested in working on preservation projects have the opportunity to have a “hands on” experience by volunteering their time and labor to help preserve historic sites.

If you’re interested in making a donation to the Ghost Town Club of Colorado Preservation Fund, please email us.

GTC Preservation Fund Donations


The Ghost Town Club of Colorado was honored to donate to:

  • HistoriCorps – Workforce for Saving Places. HistoriCorps fosters a preservation ethic by engaging volunteers of all skill levels with a hands-on experience in preserving historic structures. Volunteers work with HistoriCorps field staff to learn preservation skills and put those skills to work saving historic places that have fallen into disrepair. HistoriCorps works to ensure America’s cultural and historical resources exist for generations to come.Historicorps-CapCity2021Photo credit: Historicorps
  • World Wonder View Tower, Genoa, Colorado. The Tower requires structural repairs, and new exterior paint.
    Genoa Tower 2022
    Photo credit: GTC member Jason Messing
    GTC at Genoa
    From Left: Ed Bathke, Jason Messing, Ron Ruhoff, Josh Robinson
    Photo credit: GTC member Josh Robinson
  • The Trust for Land Restoration. Continued effort by TLR to stabilize the Idarado Mine Houses located along Hwy 550 near Ouray, Colorado. Plans call for stabilization of the building foundations, rebuilding a collapsed roof, removing asbestos floor tiles, repairing dilapidated roofing and siding, and repainting over lead paint.
    Idarado 2020Photo credit: GTC member Jason Messing


The Ghost Town Club of Colorado was honored to donate to:

  • Fort Uncompahgre on the Old Spanish Trail Interpretive Center, Delta, Colorado. They have many goals including connecting the Old Spanish Trail to the River Trail, native seed plots, Ute Council Tree and Wiki-up site.
  • Cross Orchards Historic Site, Grand Junction, Colorado. Many current projects include replacing deteriorated wooden walkways, work on the historic barn and other immediate needs.
  • Friends of New Raymer, Inc. Goal is to restore the Star Filling station known locally as Texaco/Center Street, to allow a glimpse into the settler’s lives.
  • Temple Aaron, Trinidad, Colorado. This is the oldest synagogue in Colorado. The project requires funds to repair the roof, and add heating.
  • Rio Blanco Historical Society, Meeker, Colorado. Continued maintenance and preservation of the Milk Creek Battle Site (aka Meeker Massacre Site)


The Ghost Town Club of Colorado was honored to donate to:

  • The Trust for Land Restoration.  TLR is a non-profit made up of a team of dedicated professionals from environmental consulting, law, conservation, business, government relations, and public policy, who have chosen to give back by donating time and talent to help the communities TLR serves. This is especially important because so many of the communities TLR works with are small, Western Slope towns with limited financial resources.
    • Update on Project Progress: TLR reported to GTC that they have brokered a deal in which Newmont Corporation has donated the four remaining houses located at the Idarado overlook on US 550 between Ouray and Silverton. The houses were originally built in Eureka (northeast of Silverton) before 1920. After Eureka was abandoned, ten of the houses were hauled in 1948, one at a time over unpaved Red Mountain Pass and placed on the hillside overlooking the Idarado operation. When the Idarado shut down in 1978, the ten houses were abandoned and today only four remain. TLR plans to stabilize, restore, preserve and protect the houses to be a focus of historic interest and a major part of the Million Dollar Highway/San Juan Scenic Byway for generations to come.

Many Ghost Towners remember meeting, and working with Bev Rich from Silverton and the San Juan Historical Society Bev serves as Secretary of TLR and has been instrumental in the incredible work of TLR. Many of their projects are very familiar to Ghost Towners, such as Ironton, the Garard property, the Yankee Girl, the Mountaintop Mine in Governor Basin, Guston Depot, Corkscrew Turntable and many other sites in San Juan, Ouray and San Miguel Counties.

The TLR website provides very interesting information on the projects they are working on. Check out

GTC Members

Do you know of a worthy historic project in need of financial assistance?  The Ghost Town Club of Colorado’s Preservation Fund may be distributed to registered 501(c)(3) organizations involved in preserving Colorado’s history.

To verify that the organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, visit the IRS website and use their Tax Exempt Organization Search Tool. If an organization has acquired 501(c)(3) status, their Final Determination Letter should be available for you to download.

Next, download and complete a Ghost Town Club of Colorado 2022 Funds Nomination App to nominate your project!  Instructions for completing the form are included, however if you have questions, or to submit your completed form, please email it, along with any supporting documents, to the Preservation Chair.

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