I hadn’t been to Silver Plume, Colorado in a couple of years, and decided to make a visit this morning. It was a perfect day to park the Jeep and aimlessly wander up and down the streets of Silver Plume, and imagine how it must have looked in it’s glory days of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Silver Plume is still one of my favorite places in Colorado to snap photos- There is just so much there to see, and I always find something new-old thing I missed before. I make it a point to always leave a street or path unexplored, and I also visit Silver Plume only once a year, that way there will always be “something new” on my next visit. One day I will have seen it all, but that just means I can start over and do it all, street-by-street again, and take photos from entirely different angles!

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West of Golden, Colorado in Golden Gate Canyon is a remarkably picturesque stone structure called “Centennial House.” It has sat empty for many decades now, but Centennial House was once an important stop on the stagecoach line from Denver and Golden to the mining towns of Black Hawk, Central City, and Nevadaville. As the name suggests, Centennial House opened for business in 1876, though construction had begun in 1872.

Treveling west through Golden Gate Canyon you will notice Centennial and a scattering of small stone and wood cabins and sheds on the north side of the road. If you are traveling east down Golden Gate Canyon towards Denver, you might just miss it as the impressive old building sits tucked away behind pine trees, tall grass, and long neglected overgrowth. A small turnout allows for parking, but the entire site is private property, fenced, marked, and under surveillance so please admire from the turnout and avoid trespassing.

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If a competition were held to crown “Colorado’s Most Unique Town” Guffey would certainly be in the running.  Guffey, in the past, has elected cats and dogs Mayor, and until 2011 the town held an annual chicken launch.

Today the town could be classified as a “living ghost town” with a healthy population of around 100. The dirt streets that run through town are home to old cars, cast iron claw-foot bathtubs, coffins, wagons, mining equipment, and just about anything else old and rusty you can think of. A couple of saloons are open to greet thirsty visitors and weekend road-trippers, and there are a large number of picturesque, historic buildings to admire.

Guffey got it’s start in the late-1890s as a typical Colorado mining town, gold, silver, lead, copper, and zinc being found in the area. By 1905 Guffey was already a “has been” among the mining centers and most of the town’s 500 people had moved on. But Guffey never totally “died” and is a very intersting and fun place to visit today.

Guffey is located 46 miles southeast of Fairplay, just off of Highway 9 on Park County Road 102.

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In 1971 a book titled “The Killer Legions of Quantrill” was written by Carl Breihan, in the book a previously unpublished (see below) photo of William “Bloody Bill” Anderson, the famous Missouri Partisan, and a man identified tentatively as Confederate General Joseph Orville (Jo) Shelby. The photograph immediately stirred controversy, as many felt the photo depicted niether man.

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Bloody Bill Anderson (left) and a mystery man circa 1862, Missouri- The mystery man has been identified as General Jo Shelby or Fletch Taylor

Professional analysis of the photo confirmed that the taller man with the light eyes was, in fact, Bloody Bill Anderson without his signature long hair and beard, around 1861 or 1862. However, positive identification could not be made of the made on the right of the photo. The Missouri State Historical Society which has a copy of the photo identified the man not as General Jo Shelby, but as another famous Missouri Partisan- Fletch Taylor. Both Taylor and Anderson being noted members of Quantrill’s Raiders. But this identification of the man as Fletch Taylor resulted in more argument, as many felt it clearly was not Taylor.

While researching the history of the Confederate underground and secessionist movement in Colorado Territory 1858-1865, I stumbled across the only known photograph of Colonel John Hiffner in an obscure history book chronicling the influential people of Jackson County, Missouri. Colonel John Hiffner had funded and raised a regiment of Confederate sympathizers numbering 600 to 1000 men in southern Colorado in 1861 and 1862. Following the Confederate retreat from Glorieta Pass in early 1862, and the subsequent Union dragnet of Colorado Territory to weed out Southern sympathizers in the spring and summer of 1862, Colonel Hiffner’s Mace’s Hole regiment disbanded and “scatterred to the four winds” with many of the recruits heading to Missouri, including Colonel Hiffner himself, who had family in Clay County, Missouri. Hiffner’s brother and other relatives were continously hounded by Union authorities throughout the war for aiding and abetting Confederate partisan units in Clay County, and John Hiffner never enlisted in any regular Confederate unit, though his biography does claim he served the length of the war in Missouri under General Stirling Price and General Jo Shelby, which lends credibility to the theory that John Hiffner was attached to a lesser-known Missouri Partisan unit.

The only known photograph of Hiffner (below) taken around 1900, shows a gray man, who strikes an uncanny resemblance to the unidentified mystery man in the Bloody Bill Anderson photo. Hiffner’s timeline places him in Missouri, in the same locale as Bloody Bill Anderson in 1862,  and it is my opinion that the mystery man in the photo is Colorado’s John Hiffner.

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The only known photograph of Colorado’s Confederate Partisan leader Colonel John L. Hiffner, taken later in his life, circa 1900, while living in Jackson County, Missouri

A comparison photo of the Bloody Bill Anderson image and the Hiffner image as well as those of Jo Shelby and Fletch Taylor are provided below for comparison to the Bloody Bill Anderson and mystery man photo. To me, the man clearly resembles Hiffner the most based off of facial structure, eyes, hairline and hairstyle, eyebrows, and the long, slender nose, features which are considerably different on Shelby and Taylor.

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Is the mystery man in the Bloody Bill Anderson photo John L. Hiffner?

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Three images of General Jo Shelby- Note the substantial difference in the eyes, facial shape, and hair,  from the mystery man in the Bloody Bill Anderson photo.

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A wartime image of Fletch Taylor (left) with Jesse (standing, right) and Frank James (seated)- Taylor shows very little resemblance to the unidentified man in question.

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Fletch Taylor, later in life, bears little resemblance to the man in the Anderson photo, or the Hiffner photo

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Enlistment Records of “The Reynolds Gang”- Proof that Colorado’s Most Notorious Bandits Were in Fact Confederate Cavalrymen from Texas!

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“Hoot Owl Trees” and Rock Pointers of the KGC- Evidence of the Confederate Underground in Colorado

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We’ve all heard of Wall Street, Boston, Hollywood, London, and Manhattan, but did you know Colorado has a Wall Street, Boston, and Manhattan too? Wall Street in Boulder County and Manhattan in Larimer County were small mining towns in the late-19th and early-20th Century, Boston, in Summit County, was a seasonal mining camp in that same era. London (there were actually two “North” and “South” London) were a pair of camps located a mile apart on Mosquito Pass in Park County, and were inhabited until the 1930s. Hollywood began it’s short life as a suburb of Victor, Colorado in Teller County, and was swallowed up by Goldfield as that town expanded. The names of these tiny communities represented the high hopes of the miners and their families who once called them home- High hopes that faded and vanished when the veins of gold and silver played out.

Wall Street still has a small population and is home to a quaint mining museum housed in the old Assay office. All that remains of Manhattan is a tiny cemetery, high on a hillside, with the graves of a handful of miners killed in an underground explosion in 1892 which spelled the town’s doom. What remained of Manhattan’s structures were burned to the ground by the Forest Service in the 1930s, and only a few photos remain. Boston, high above timberline, surrounded by snow-capped spires of rock at the head of Mayflower Gulch between Copper Mountain and Leadville still has a scattering of cabins, the fragile remnants of the log boarding house, and rusted relics of mining machinery.

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Wall Street, Colorado- Boulder County

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Wall Street in the boom days

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The monstrous chlorniation mill used for seperating gold from host rock at Wall Street- The first of it’s kind in the United States, and cutting edge technology in it’s day

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Remains of the chlorination mill today

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The “fancy house” at Wall Street, heavily damaged in the floods of 2013 and since torn down

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A glimpse of Boston, Colorado in Summit County, located high above timberline

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Boston

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Relics of yesterday in a miner’s cabin on the trail to Boston

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The awe inspiring setting of Boston, Colorado

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The boarding house at Boston

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Hollywood, Colorado- A far cry it’s more famous namesake!

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London, Colorado

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Boarding house at London

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Mosquito Pass from the inside of the mill at London

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Miner’s cabin at London

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This tiny, hillside cemetery is all that remains of Manhattan, Colorado

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Grave of George Grill, one of the miners killed in the 1892 Manhattan explosion

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Another Manhattan burial

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A tiny fleck of gold from Manhattan Creek

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Manhattan at it’s peak around 1890

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Manhattan, Colorado in better days

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Manhattan circa 1930

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Manhattan around 1930- It had been abandoned for 30 years by the time these photos were taken, the Forest Service burned the buildings shortly after, nothing remains today

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Manhattan, Colorado

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Photo Blog: Colorado’s High Alpine Mining Camps- What Remains Today

Colorado’s Lost Highway- A Photo Voyage Down Highway 350 From La Junta to Trinidad

Photo Blog: Coal Towns of Colorado- Ghosts of the Southern Foothills

Abandoned Faces of Colorado’s San Luis Valley and Northern New Mexico.

The Gray Ghosts of Colorado Book- $19.99 CLICK HERE!

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If you’ve spent much time hiking in the High Rockies of Colorado, chances are you’ve stumbled across a cluster of tumbledown log cabins situated around some long-abandoned mine workings- These are the remnants of the mining camps that played a vital role in the development of the Colorado we know today, and there are literally hundreds of them scattered across the meadows and slopes of the high country.

Mining camps usually consisted of the mine itself, a large boarding house to house the miners, a combination mess hall/saloon, and usually a two or three log cabins or milled lumber homes which housed the mine owner, or the married miners with families who didn’t want to live in the rowdy boarding houses. In some of the larger camps there were sometimes also found an Assay Office for sampling and evaluating ore specimens, and a general store which often doubled as the camp Post Office as well.

What separated these “mining camps” from the “mining towns” of the day, and made the “camps” unique, was the fact that most were only occupied in the warm months- Their extreme locations, either at dizzying altitudes of 11,000ft. to 13,000ft., or miles and miles from the next nearest settlement where supplies could be obtained, made winter living impossible.

The remote and forgotten locations of these old, deserted, mining camps have allowed many of them to remain relatively intact to this day, free from the vandalism and relic hunters whom have taken a severe toll on easier to access and well-known ghost towns across the state. In the spirit of preserving what’s left, I’ve chosen to not identify the locations in the photos below- Let’s just say they are all in Colorado, and a 4×4 or a long hike will get you to each one!  Enjoy!

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A little traveled stretch of two-lane blacktop known as Highway 350, which runs 70 miles diagonally SW-NE, links La Junta, Colorado with Trinidad, Colorado. A trip down Highway 350 brings on an overwhelming feeling of being totally alone in a desloate land. The words lost, forlorn, and forgotten come to mind as you pass through a succession of places that once “were” but are no longer. Places you’ll still find on a map like Timpas, Thatcher, Earl, Tyrone, Model, Bloom and Delhi…But you won’t find much but when you get there but a few scattered remnants of yesterday when times were better, and maybe a pickup truck driven by one of the handful of ranchers who remain in the vicinity. When the sprawl, stress, and current insanity of Colorado’s major population centers make it seem like the state is overpopulated, a jaunt down 350 reminds us of how truly huge Colorado is. Most of the 70 mile length of Highway 350 feels as though you are passing through a post-apocalyptic world, which has always led me to refer to 350 as “Colorado’s Lost Highway.”

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Telephone poles line the length of Highway 350 like crosses marking the graves of the the vanished towns along this desolate 70 mile stretch of road between La Junta and Trinidad.

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The old schoolhouse in Timpas now serves as a private residence.

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Remains of a home in Timpas.

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Timpas, Colorado

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The town of Bloom is now just a field of debris and foundations.

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Bloom, Colorado

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Delhi, Colorado

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The Delhi “One Stop” General Store

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Delhi “One Stop”

 

 

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Thatcher, Colorado from Highway 350

 

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School at Thatcher

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Tyrone, Colorado

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Old Radio Station along Highway 350

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Grocery store at Model, Colorado- It was being renovated the last time I passed by.

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Model, Colorado

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Model, Colorado

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Storefront in Model

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One of the many mattresses that inhabit Model

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The residential district of Model

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As you near the end of Highway 350 heading southwest towards Trinidad the Spanish Peaks come into view

 

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