Day #14- Turret, Colorado

Turret was an “accidental” gold town that came to life in the 1880 in the sandy crags along the Arkansas River near Salida, Colorado. Originally Turret was a logging camp that went by the name “Camp Austin” which provided logs to charcoal kilns in nearby Nathrop. The charcoal was then sold to the various railroads operating in the Arkansas River Valley.

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Some prospecting had been done in the 1870s around Camp Austin, and the railroad laid tracks to the neighboring iron mine at Hematite. A few small copper mines dotted the arid hills around the camp as well.  Around 1885 prospectors delved deeper into the rock nearby and discovered gold. The rush was on. By 1890 a tent city had sprang up and Camp Austin was renamed “Turret City” after Turret Mountain which overlooks the spot.

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The Gold Bug and the Anaconda were the two biggest mines at Turret, and supported a population of around 100 miners and their families. A miniature one-room, log school house was built on a hillside, as well as a small hotel, and a Post Office. The school held classes until the early 1930s, and the Post Office struggled along until 1939 when it closed its doors.

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The school house at Turret held classes until the 1930s

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Another view of the school

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The hotel at Turret

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Turret sat abandoned for many years until the site was rediscovered and a number of historic cabins were renovated and turned into summer getaways. In recent years developers have snatched up lots in and around Turret and newer homes have been constructed.  In 2014, one of a Turret’s few year-round residents, a 92-year-old man, was killed and his house leveled when a homemade bomb he was building detonated, the event put Turret back in the newspaper headlines for the first time since gold was discovered there.

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The Post Office has preserved by locals, the office closed in 1939

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Today Turret is a mixture of old and new. Many abandoned cabins, as well as the school house, and Post Office can still be seen. All of the site is privately owned thse days and well posted, but when I have visited the locals are friendly and don’t mind visitors as long as you stay on the public road and off of their property.

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This small building houses the town well

 

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Comments
  1. Connie Booth says:

    Thank you for featuring the Post Office in your article. Richard and Connie Booth of Crane,MO purchased and restored this piece of Colorado history. Due to our efforts this building the Spear Cabin/Turret Post Office on September 26, 2018 has been listed in the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties. This building is also listed in the Chaffee County Register of Historic Properties.

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