Archive for the ‘Colorado Road Trips’ Category

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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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

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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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Boston

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The awe inspiring setting of Boston, Colorado

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Boston

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The boarding house at Boston

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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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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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“The Gray Ghosts of Colorado- Book I: The Copperheads” The True, Suppressed History of Colorado’s Secessionist Movement of 1860-1861, and the Coloradans Who Fought for the Confederacy During the Civil War $19.99

 

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Jail at the abandoned coal town of Berwind, Colorado

Colorado mining history is usually thought of in terms of gold and silver, but coal mining in the state also dates back to the earliest days of the state’s existence. Coal was found in large seams along the foothills shortly after John Gregory, the Russell brothers, and George Jackson made their more famous gold strikes in 1859.

Coal isn’t glamorous, or precious- It’s dirty, it smells, and those who toiled underground to extract it were faced with the grim aspect of underground fires and explosions and pockets of poison gas which could extinguish life in the blink of an eye. The future wasn’t much brighter for those who were lucky enough to avoid disasters, as inhaling the powder fine dust of the mines resulted in “black lung” and various cancers which cut many a life short.

But coal was vital to the industrialization of America and the westward expansion- Coal was used to fire the furnaces that smelted the gold, silver, and copper ore mined in the mountains. Coal fueled the giant boilers of the steam railroad engines that connected the United States, transporting people, goods, animals, and armies across the continent. And, for many miners who failed to find riches in the gold mines, there was always plenty of demand for coal miners.

Traveling south along Interstate 25 in Colorado, just as you cross the Arkansas River and leave the city limits of Pueblo you enter the heart of Colorado’s coal country. A quick side trip down nearly any of the many exits along this southern stretch of I-25 will lead you to sandstone and concrete ruins- The final reminders of the many small coal towns which once dotted the foothills in the late-1800s through through the 1950s- Places like Lester, Rugby, Tioga, Tobasco, Ludlow, Pryor, Valdez and Berwind.

Here is a collection of random images of these fading faces of Colorado’s coal industry:

(Click on image to make larger)

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“The Gray Ghosts of Colorado- Book I: The Copperheads” The True, Suppressed History of Colorado’s Secessionist Movement of 1860-1861, and the Coloradans Who Fought for the Confederacy During the Civil War $19.99

 

Colorado has plenty of ghost towns but what about “lost” towns- Towns that have disappeared entirely, or almost entirely from the face of the earth?  It is hard to imagine but there are “lost cities” here in Colorado. Cities and towns and settlements that have vanished almost completely over the years. Most appeared and disappeared with the boom and bust days of the gold and silver rush. Others were ranching and farming towns hit hard by the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s. Still others came and went with the fortunes of the railroads.  These make up Colorado’s “lost cities” and below is a collection of then and now photos of six of them. (Click on the circles for larger images.)

1. Querida, Colorado

Querida in Custer County was once a booming mining town laid out at the base of the Bassick Mine.  Today nothing remains but one old house, some debris from other buildings, and the massive tailings pile from the Bassick Mine.

2. Independence, Colorado

There was more than one “Independence” in Colorado- This is the Independence in Teller County near Cripple Creek and Victor. Independence was one of many towns that sprawled out around the mining operations in the Cripple Creek/Victor area in the late 1890s. Today some mining structures and equipment mark the spot, and a one or two homes can still be found scattered among the workings. Most of the town however was buried under the tailings from the mine, or torn down.

3. Caribou, Colorado

Caribou was one of Colorado’s top producing silver mining towns in the 1870s and 1880s boasting a business district, hotels, saloons and schools. The silver crash of 1893 spelled doom for the thriving community located on a windswept mountainside eight miles above Nederland at nearly 10,000 ft. elevation. Most of the population left around 1895, but a few struggled on in the mines until around 1920. Today a couple of stone buildings and one tumbledown log cabin are all that mark the spot of Caribou- The rest of town having been lost to forest fires, dismantling, and the elements over the years. A few foundations can be found in the deep grass at the site but its hard to imagine thousands once lived here.

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Colorado Ghost Town Guide Book- The Gold Belt Region by Jeff Eberle $20!

4. Manhattan, Colorado

Deep in Larimer County northwest of Ft. Collins a couple of gold discoveries were made high on Elkhorn and Manhattan Creeks. Manhattan once had around 500 residents, but the ore was low-grade and there wasn’t much to be found.  An accident in a shaft took the lives of several miners in 1892, and shortly after Manhattan was abandoned.  Sometime in the 1950s or so, the Forest Service had the log buildings of Manhattan torn down.  All that marks the town site today is a tiny graveyard on a hillside where the miners from the 1892 accident are buried.

5.Berwind, Colorado

In the sandy foothills northwest of Trinidad numerous “company towns” existed. These towns were built by mine owners for their employees and their families. One of the larger company towns was Berwind. Berwind once had over 3000 residents, hundreds of homes, a two-story schoolhouse, railroad station, businesses, and a jail.  When the coal mines closed, the mine owners evicted the families and bulldozed the housing so they wouldn’t be taxed on the structures. Berwind Canyon today is lined with concrete foundations, staircases to nowhere, and modern day “Roman Ruins” overgrown with shrubs and trees. The tiny jail house remains and is guarded by a fat squirrel.

6. Carrizo Springs, Colorado

Carrizo Springs in the far southeastern corner of Colorado in remote Baca County was a very unusual place- It was a mining town on the great plains.  Around 1885 a group of prospectors from Missouri were looking for the Rocky Mountains and became lost as they traveled through Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and Kansas. When they had just about given up they saw hills and bluffs that they assumed were the Rocky Mountains. They began prospecting along Carrizo Creek and found some streaks of copper ore and a few streaks of silver as well. The Mexican ranchers in the area told the miners they were still a couple hundred miles from the Rocky Mountains. The miners decided to stay at Carrizo Creek and soon word spread of their strike. Around 1887 the town of Carrizo Springs was born, and one account says 2000-3000 people flocked to the settlement. Carrizo Springs lived a short, violent life. Cattle rustlers and horse thieves wandered through town from Kansas and Texas, gamblers and prostitutes set up shop in the saloons, marauding bandidos all the way from Mexico terrorized the town on occasion. Soon though it was realized the copper and silver ore along Carrizo Creek was poor and the town vanished. By 1889 Carrizo Springs was empty having lived only two years.  Today it takes a very sharp eye to spot anything marking the site- A few crumbling stone foundations, a weathered hitching post here and there, and shards of broken glass and porcelain on the prairie are all that is left.  No period photos of Carrizo Springs exist.