Archive for the ‘Mines, Mills and Smelters’ Category

Just got home from another mini-vacation to Victor, Colorado and was once again impressed and amazed at all of the things I found that I had missed on previous trips. Missing little details is easy to do in a town that once had a population of 12,000 around 1900, which now has about 400 residents. Whatever you do, however, DO NOT call Victor a “ghost town” I made that mistake once and only once. A week’s worth of hate mail and  subsequent explaining and apologizing, and I was back on in good graces with the locals!

VictorColoradopano

Panoramic Painting of Victor circa 1900

 

Victor has always caused me mixed emotions- On one hand it heartbreaking to see so many empty store fronts and vacant properties, I imagine how beautiful and bustling this town must have been in its heyday, when it even boasted a fancy “San Francisco” style trolley line known as the “Victor Inter-Urban Railway.” On the other hand, I love Victor as it is, and would be devastated to see the gentrification that has destroyed so much of Colorado happen here- I want Victor to retain its character, and anymore in Colorado, “character” is too often bulldozed to make way for luxury condos and coffee shops for people with no ties to Colorado and no respect for the State’s history.

Victor

Victor in 1899, the building on the left is the Victor Hotel which still welcomes guests today

A huge amalgamation of abandoned, occupied, old and new (mostly old though) and a sense of a mining boom town suspended in time best describes Victor, Colorado, sister city of the more famous Cripple Creek, just six miles away around a mountain of mine tailings. Preservation efforts have been carried out or started on a number of the buildings around the town, and visitors can still stay in the historic Victor Hotel, comfortable, large rooms, with great views and giant arched windows are available for a very reasonable rate year-round. A couple of small cafes, The Side Door and The Mining Claim 1899, and a the Fortune Club Saloon (the Fortune Club also offers rooms) serve the needs of hungry and thirsty visitors as well as the locals, many of whom work at the nearby Newmont gold mine. A few antique and gift shops, a liquor store, and a tiny general store round out Victor’s business district. The most impressive building to be found in town (in my opinion) is the old Masonic Lodge, be sure not to miss it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view looking west down Victor Avenue, the Victor Hotel is the tallest building on the right. Several blocks of largely vacant storefronts radiate out, north and south, from Victor Avenue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Part of the Victor business district, note the “Undertakers” advertisement

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Masonic Lodge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A look downtown and you can imagine what it must have been like in 1900

One thing you will quickly notice about Victor are the stunning views of the rugged, snow-capped spires of the Sangre de Cristos Mountain to the southwest- The view of the Sangres can not be beat from the 4th floor rooms of the Victor Hotel.

(Click Here for Victor Hotel Website) 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View of the Sangre de Cristos Mountains from the 4th floor rooms of the Victor Hotel

Another aspect of Victor that first-time visitors may find unusual is the large amount of wildlife that freely roam the town, deer and foxes, unconcerned with the people and cars around them. And, almost as if trained, it seems the wildlife prefers to use the painted crosswalks in town when crossing the road- I have been entertained watching this numerous times! Just a reminder though, never ever, ever, feed the wildlife, they are still wild animals, no matter how tame they might appear. Human food harms wildlife, it also causes wildlife to associate humans with food, which is bad for both us and the animals, just don’t do it. Enjoy the critters from a distance and take only photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This well-behaved fox and its family are regular fixtures in downtown Victor

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From my hotel room window above I watched this fox use the crosswalks every time it needed to cross the streets in town, take it slow driving through, there are lots of animals roaming town!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The deer in Victor have the same street smarts as their fox neighbors

Vintage advertising and forlorn, antique mining machinery can be found all over the town. Adding to Victor’s unique personality is the fact that mine shafts exist right in the middle of town! When you find a rich vein of ore while excavating the foundation for a building, you forget about the building and get into the mining business! One the east edge of town a colossal two-story red brick schoolhouse with an imposing flight of stairs leading to its front door dominates the view. Below the school is the “Gold Bowl” a football field built many decades ago- The entire project was paid for with gold ore excavated while leveling the playing field!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Vintage advertising abounds in the streets of Victor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A small fraction of the vintage mining equipment scattered about Victor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

An old tractor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This beautiful old Buick watches over things from a ridge above town, deer tracks nearby

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The old Colorado & Midland train station in Victor

North, east, south, and west of Victor’s business district are rows of Victorian era residences. Many occupied year-round, others occupied seasonally, and plenty abandoned and forlorn. You can take one look up and down the streets and sense what a beautiful town Victor was in its prime. The people here lived a good, comfortable life, before the mines went bust.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trapped in time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Remarkable woodwork on this old beauty!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Withered beauty

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If walls could talk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Craftsmanship which has weathered the harsh winds of time

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mine tailings in the middle of a row of homes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once called “home” by a miner and his family

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The old Texaco at the edge of town hasn’t plugged a flat or changed oil in many years

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A  doe deer inspects the “skinny” house on the east end of town

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And a minute later….the buck deer arrived

Victor, Colorado, now only a shadow of its former glory is truly a gem to visit if you are a history buff or interested in the history of mining. Victor and Cripple Creek, Colorado were the heart of a massive gold-producing district from around 1895 to 1930s. Mining structures, debris, and abandoned and occupied homes and businesses dating to the boom years radiate out in all directions from Victor. Newmont Gold which still operates the sprawling mine nearby along with Teller County and various historic/preservation societies have teamed up to construct a series of walking paths that wind their way through many of the old mining areas, which give visitors an up close look at the structures and equipment used 100 years ago.

Vindicator Miners VLTM

Miners at the Vindicator just north of Victor, today a foot path leads you to the ruins of the mill in he background of this photo, much, much more impressive in person!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The towering remains of the Vindicator north of Victor, a foot path I didn’t care to walk in the snow leads below for an awe-inspiring view of this enormous ghost structure

 

If you find yourself in the Colorado Springs or Canon City, Colorado area, be sure to plan a day trip to visit nearby Victor and soak up this town’s very unique atmosphere and wonderful sights!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Locals

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A handsome fella

2019 Ghosts of Colorado Calendars Only $14.99 CLICK HERE!

cal19

 

PLEASE GIVE ME A SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA IF YOU ENJOYED THIS!

THANKS FOR VISITING!

Advertisements

At first glance it is hard to believe Goldfield, Colorado once boasted a population of over 3,500 residents when the nearby Portland Mine provided ample employment opportunities around 1900.

port

The Portland Mine at Goldfield in its prime around 1900

The ebb and flow of mining is a brutal life of boom and bust, in Goldfield, as in nearly every mining town and camp in the West, the ore played out that coupled with the Federal Government abandoning the gold standard, the town withered and faded away. Today, Goldfield still struggles to hang on, a handful of residents, some retired, some weekenders, some descendants of earlier miners, and a smattering of coyotes, deer, and foxes still occupy a number of homes in this boom and bust town.

 

Newmont Gold is reworking the tailings piles from yesteryear nearby, as well as carrying out new large-scale mining operations which has also brought a few folks back to town, but for the most part, Goldfield is fragile, wind-blown remnant of a forgotten era. The splintered wood and cracked cornices, peeled paint, and shifting foundations stand today as silent witnesses of grander times in Goldfield. The highlight of the town in the City Hall and fire station, built in 1899, which stands guard over the town, its weathered and flaking yellow paint an ode the gold that once brought life to this great Colorado ghost town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Preserved in a state of “arrested decay” in recent City Hall, built in 1899, looms over Goldfield

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another view of the combination City Hall and Fire Station

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Goldfield’s residential streets are a combo of abandoned and occupied dwellings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A 100-year-old miner’s shack with the Newmont property in the distance, providing work for modern-day miners who rework the tailings piles of yesterday’s mines for microscopic gold which could not be harvested with the primitive  techniques of the 19th Century. Newmont employs hundreds at decent wages, reworking the “waste rock” of 100 years ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A little elbow grease and we’d have a winner!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A seasonal home in Goldfield, boarded up for the winter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This beautiful old Ford and the house behind still have lots of promise!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many years since a fire warmed the hearth of this Goldfield house

2019 Ghosts of Colorado Calendar by Jeff Eberle $14.99 CLICK HERE!

cal19

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If walls could talk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the south end of Goldfield is the short-lived suburb of “Hollywood” which was swallowed by Goldfield’s expansion. Hollywood was actually a suburb of nearby Victor, about a mile away in the boom days. Hollywood was soon swallowed by Goldfield when the Portland Mine boomed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of Hollywood’s nicer homes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the north end of Goldfield sits this impressive two-story, occupied until recent years as evinced by the satellite dish. This home is where the “suburbs” or “satellite camp” of Goldfield known both as “Indpendence” and “Hull City” was located. Just south lies the Vindicator Mine.

Ghost Town Guide Books and Photography by Jeff Eberle- CLICK HERE!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Vindicator, a truly impressive structure, photos do it no justice. It is an enormous building.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A “fancy” house at the old Indpendence/Hull City site

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Close-up of the fancy house

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Home of the mine boss and his family, occupied until the early-1950s

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another “satellite” camp of Goldfield was Bull Hill where the hardscrabble miners lived in retired railroad cars on the windswept side of the hill.

With the holidays upon us I wanted to thank all of my followers again for your support and share links to all of my projects with you in case you are looking for some gift ideas.

I have written two Colorado ghost town guide books, loaded with color photos and GPS coordinates which are available by following the links below. Book one covers the “Gold Belt” region spanning the foothills of Boulder, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties just west of Denver. Book two covers the “High Rockies” and features sites in Summit and Lake Counties.

HG2

Click Here- Colorado Ghost Towns Travels: The Gold Belt Guide Book $19.99 

HG3

Click Here- Colorado Ghost Towns Travels: The High Rockies Guide Book $15.99

 

I have also written a book detailing the early Civil War era sociopolitical climate in Colorado Territory. This book is the first in a series of three that begins with the earliest pioneers of Colorado and their deep ties to the South. Future books in the series will cover in depth the forgotten story of the Colorado pioneers who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War,  the final book of the series will detail the legend of “The Reynolds Gang” and the ongoing hunt for their buried treasure.

HG1

Click Here- The Gray Ghosts of Colorado: Book I, The Copperheads $19.99

Finally I offer my yearly “Ghosts of Colorado” wall calendar, featuring 12 months of my ghost town photography.

cal19

Click Here- 2019 Ghosts of Colorado Calendar $14.99

Thank You For Your Support!

I’m a “little guy” with no marketing budget, so sharing this on social media helps me out a lot!

Several times throughout the course of the year I am contacted by individuals asking me about metal detecting or relic hunting at ghost towns, numerous times I’ve also had individuals who want to share their finds with me, or ask that I share them on my Facebook page or on blog. Unbeknownst to many, metal detecting and relic hunting at ghost towns, mining camps, old structures, etc. on public lands is a felony offense.

slv1

It has been my standard practice to politely inform these people of the Federal laws protecting historic sites over 50-years-old, and inform them of the harsh consequences they face if caught in the act- A felony charge with fines ranging from $500 to $20,000 and/or up to one-year in prison. In most cases those who have contacted me are unaware of these laws, and thank me for alerting them prior to their planned adventures. In some instances however, I get the more confrontational types who want to challenge me (as if I am the one who wrote the law) and argue the law. And, often, I get the lame old “Well I won’t get caught” or “Does anybody really enforce it?” response, which is discouraging.

YHM8

A rusted button at an old mining camp, tempting to pocket, but by the word of the law it is illegal

Lately, I have experienced a noticeable increase in people asking about metal detecting and relic hunting at ghost towns. One of the cool, behind the scenes features of my blog is a record of “search terms” people have used while visiting my blog, and “metal detecting ghost towns” has become a popular search term much to my dismay. I understand the allure of snooping around an old cabin or town site and seeing what you can find- I’ve been there, done it. It is a romantic vision in many of our minds that we’ll be the one to stumble across a rusted Colt pistol, or an old gold coin under the floorboards of a cabin. We are not vandals out to destroy anything, our intentions are good and it is a fun hobby, we are focused people looking for something cool to hang on the wall. I get it, I’ve done it, but I now know we can’t do it. Relic hunters, as harmless as our intentions are on the surface, take a severe toll on our historic sites, and, by the word of the law, relic hunters and metal detectors are one in the same with the vandal who tears down the wall, or the arsonist who burns the old building. If it is on public land, i.e., National Forest, State Lands, or BLM lands, we can look, but we can’t keep, and we can’t excavate. If we find relics we can enjoy them, but we have to leave them at the site where we found them.

hwk16

It is frustrating, and there is great temptation, after all, who will notice if I take a handful of square nails, or it won’t hurt that building at all if I take that old doorknob, or somebody threw these bottles in the dump a hundred years ago, what’s the big deal if I take them home? If it was only one of us who did that, it would not be a big deal, but multiply that by one hundred or one thousand and in a decade there will be nothing left of our ghost towns and historic sites- And this does not even take into account the natural ravages of time and weather, forest fires and floods, and the still rampant vandalism and arson that has always plagued our ghost towns.

I myself was unaware of these laws until the last ten years or so,  and I myself am guilty of taking objects I found on public lands prior to my knowledge of the laws. There are several on the books- the American Antiquities Act of 1906 and numerous revisions to said law, the National Historic Preservation Act 1966 with revisions in 1980 and 1992, the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act, Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Abandoned Shipwreck Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

wap2

The Wapiti Mine Office and General Store 2016

WapitiAFTER

The Wapiti Mine Office and General Store after vandals ripped it down 2017

All of these laws were designed to protect our cultural heritage and our Nation’s rich history, so that it may be enjoyed by our children, grandchildren and generations yet to come, but many do not know about these laws, and some do not care, viewing the laws as largely unenforceable measures, and governmental overreach.

As my involvement in the historic site/ghost town field has grown over the years I have become acutely aware of the reason for, and the need for these laws- Recently, in the last three years, I have witnessed the destruction of several historic structures in Colorado, I have witnessed a family of four, mother, father, and two young children, deface an historic and clearly marked “PROTECTED” mill building with graffiti, I have seen an entire rusted automobile disappear from the Sego ghost town in Utah…after it had been defaced with graffiti the year before, and I have stood in shocked disbelief as I watched a family from Minnesota climb over a well-marked, protective fence erected by the Forest Service so they could “touch” ancient Native American rock paintings with their hands.

segocany12

This old coupe which had sat at Sego, Utah for 60 years was illegally hauled away in 2017.

As our society grows increasingly ignorant, uneducated, and self-serving, the need for these protective laws will only increase, unfortunately, enforcing these laws is nearly impossible without the help of others- As ghost-towners, road trippers, and history buffs, we all need to help spread the word that metal detecting, relic hunting, defacing, damaging, or taking anything, even the tiniest nail or shard of pottery from historic sites over 50 years located on public lands is illegal. Permits to metal detect and relic hunt at historic sites are available and are Federally monitored- Normally, permits are only issued to actual, historic or archaeological research parties, and not private citizens. What you do on private land is entirely up to the discretion of the land owner and the parties involved.

vandal8

Vandalism right next to a sign asking visitors NOT to destory the historic Magnolia Mill in Montgomery, Colorado.  This is not art, this is vandalism.

magnolia4

Furthermore, we are the first line of defense of America’s history, our history- If you see someone relic hunting, defacing, or destroying a historic site, either kindly inform them of the law, or if you do not want to confront someone, get photos and their license plate number and turn it over to the Forest Service in the area. It is a difficult thing to do, but the Forest Service can not possibly patrol every site every day, so it up to us to protect our historic and cultural heritage.

vandal1

A family I witnessed defacing the Magnolia Mill right in front of the signs. I turned their license plate number into the Fairplay Ranger Station and they launched an investigation.

Take only pictures. Enjoy our heritage, don’t destroy it!

American Antiquities Act of 1906

16 USC 431-433

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person who shall appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States, without the permission of the Secretary of the Department of the Government having jurisdiction over the lands on which said antiquities are situated, shall, upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a period of not more than ninety days, or shall suffer both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bonafied unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions which the may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to such rules and regulation as they may prescribe: Provided, That the examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in public museums.

Sec. 4. That the Secretaries of the Departments aforesaid shall make and publish from time to time uniform rules and regulations for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act.

Approved, June 8, 1906

Abandoned iron- To some it is an eyesore, to others it is a thing of great, almost artistic, beauty in its own strange way. I fall into the latter category, finding the cast-aside implements of yesterday’s industry extremely beautiful.

I imagine if these rusted relics and shops could tell a story, it would parallel my own- Men who did a job because they had to, not because they wanted to, who faced the same frustrations, anger, and stress I’ve faced in my own time inside the factory.

I can look at these old machines and see myself cussing them, as some high-pressure bossman leans over my shoulder, clipboard and pencil in hand, asking a series of stupid, irrelevant questions, and second-guessing my every move while I try to make the iron monsters live again.

Perhaps it’s just me, or maybe it’s just another of the many symptoms of blue-collar life, but when I put a hand on these great iron beasts, I can hear them come back to life- The grand cacophonous thunder of industry.

(Due to the rarity and historic value of the following, and the increasing instances of theft and vandalism currently afflciting Colorado’s historic sites, I’ve chosen not to disclose the locations to prevent futher destruction.)

 

1.

arg4

2.

ir7

3.

ir10

4.

card10

5.

ibex12

6.

rexf10

7.

ir

8.iron1

9.

ir53

10.

ir52

11.ir36

12.ir27

13.

ir25

14.ir24

15.

irn7

16.stamp

17.su27

18.

irn1

19.

irn4

20.

irn3

21.

irn6

22.sunshine30

23.swd16

24.su26

25.su28

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!

plume41plume39plume28plume29plume37plume40

plume27plume7plume15plume8plume9plume16

plume36plume14plume6plume26plume35plume13plume25

plume4plume12plume34

plume24plume10

 

plume3

plume22

 

plume33plume21plume2plume32plume23

HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS!

A SHARE GOES A LONG WAY!

CHECK OUT MY OTHER PHOTO BLOGS!

Photo Blog: Springtime at Colorado’s Historic Centennial House- A Long-Forgotten Stage Stop and Hotel in Golden Gate Canyon

Photo Blog: Guffey, Colorado- Unique Doesn’t Even Begin to Describe it!

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

 

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.

guffey1

guffey2

guffey3

guffey4

guffey8

guffey12

guffey6guffey11

guffey9

guffey10

guffey5

Thanks for Visiting! A Share Helps A Lot!

CHECK OUT MY OTHER PHOTO BLOGS!

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

Photo Blog: Wall Street, Boston, Hollywood, London, and Manhattan…Colorado? Little Places With Big Names

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

Photo Blog: 2016 and 2017 Central City Hot Rod Hill Climb

25 Abandoned Buildings In Colorado You Must See Before They Are Gone

25 (More) Abandoned Buildings in Colorado You Must See Before They Are Gone

25 Picturesque Old School Houses In Colorado

BOOK: The Gray Ghosts of Colorado $19.99 CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

GGcover