Archive for the ‘Road Trips’ Category

Ghost Town a Day For 30 Days- Day #8 features Ironton, Colorado.

Ironton was one of the two major towns in the Red Mountain Mining District of the San Juan Mountains and is located between Ouray and Silverton. In its prime Ironton was a major shipping hub for the mines of the San Juans, and mining was done around Ironton as well in all directions. The town’s peak population was over one thousand and there were over one hundred buildings at Ironton in its heyday.

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Ironton, early 1900s

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Ironton, early 1900s

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Ironton today

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Ironton dwindled in the early decades of the 20th Century, and is totally abandoned today.  Around a dozen structures, homes, shops, and out buildings remain at the Ironton site today tucked deep in a grove of dense aspen trees, hiding the old town from plain view. To find Ironton keep an eye open for the large rust-colored field of mine tailings on the left hand side of Highway 550 as you travel from Ouray to Silverton. There is a parking lot and trailhead for outdoor recreation at the tailings pile. If you keep a close eye out, you will find a rough road here that leads into the trees, a few hundred yards fown the road the buildings of Ironton will appear.

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Day #7 of A Ghost Town a Day For 30 Days features La Liendre, New Mexico.

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La Liendre Saloon early-1900s

The Spanish “La Liendre” translates roughly to “The Mosquito” in English and legend says this tiny village along the Gallinas River was named for the mosquitos that plagued the residents.

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Ruins of the saloon in the previous photo

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La Liendre is located roughly 20 miles southeast of Las Vegas, New Mexico in the stunning canyon country of the eastern New Mexico plains region. The small community began life under the name “Los Valles de San Antonio” around 1840. There was a Post Office intermittently at La Liendre between 1878 and 1942, as well as a church, saloon, and a number of stone and adobe dwellings.  Today La Liendre is a collection of crumbling walls, boards, debris, and around 20 foundations surrounded by beautiful views.

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Day #4 of A Ghost Town a Day For 30 Days takes us to a little known ghost town on the southern slope of Muddy Pass along Highway 40 in Colorado north of Kremmling. I have only found one reference to this place in my research, and it was identified as the Smole Lumber Camp which operated in the early decades of the 20th Century which faded into oblivion sometime around 1950. I wish I knew more, but there is no “more” to be found on the camp. If anyone knows the full story I’d love to hear it.

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Smole Camp sits on the southern slope of Muddy Pass along Highway 40 north of Kremmling on private property, but it can be easily viewed and photographed from the shoulder of the road

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There are two rows of buildings along a central “street” at the camp, a few other buildings lay on the outskirts of the main cluster at the site

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These buildings are located on the southern side of the road dividing the camp

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Buildings along the north end of the camp

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A weather beaten chair stubbornly refuses to submit to time and the elements

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A barn and what could be called the “fancy” house sit a few hundred yards south of the main camp, and likely belonged to the owner or site manager of the lumber company

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Another view of the same structures

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Barn building

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Day #3 of “A Ghost Town a Day For 30 Days” features the little village of La Manga, New Mexico.

I discovered La Manga by accident while on a New Mexico road trip when I noticed a tiny (literally) church and a cluster of abandoned buildings on a hillside just outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico on the way to Glorieta Pass.

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La Manga, New Mexico

 

I pulled off the interstate and wound down a few side roads until I reached the spot. The miniature church I had seen from the distance was in fact, small in physical dimensions, it is actually about a 2/3 scale chapel, large enough for people to enter, but you’d have to stoop as the walls are short and the roof is low.  This is the Capilla de Santo Nino, or Chapel of Santo Nino- Santo Nino being the image of the child Jesus in the Roman Faith. This dimunitive chapel was puposely built on a small scale in honor of Santo Nino. I can not find any information on how old the chapel is, but it is still in use today, and there is a small graveyard on the church property.

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The miniature 2/3 scale Capilla de Santo Nino at La Manga

A hundred yards or so up a steep, muddy slope with no defined road are the ruins of the village of La Manga. I parked my Jeep just north of the chapel, and hiked up to the ruins of the town, I did not see any private property sings, but I admired the buildings from afar just in case.

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The main cluster of buildings at La Manga

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Overall view of La Manga from the chapel below

 

Arranged in the typical square style of the old Mexican plazas are a handful of stone and adobe buildings with the tattered remnants of their tin roofs flapping in the wind.  I have not been able to find any information on when La Manga was founded, or when it died- There is one crude pole in the center of the plaza that appears to have brought electricity, or possibly telegraph or phone service to the hamlet long ago. La Manga is just one of the hundreds of  abandoned plazas and villages across New Mexico that share a similar mysterious history.

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Picturesque red stone building at La Manga

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Another view of the same building

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Day #2 of A Ghost Town a Day For 30 Days is Wall Street which is located in Boulder County and easily accessible in the warmer months by following the signs in Four Mile Canyon.

Wall Street began its life around 1895 as a mining camp called “Delphi.” From 1895 to 1898 Delphi grew in size and numerous gold claims were staked in Schoolhouse, Melvina, and Emerson Gulches which surrounded the camp. For a little over two years a Post Office operated under the Delphi name.

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One of the older shacks at Wall Street

In 1898 Charles Caryl, a wealthy industrialist from New York arrived and bought up nearly all of the claims in Delphi. Caryl renamed the camp “Wall Street” in homage of his home in New York City.

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The boom days at Wall Street

Charles Caryl funded the construction of a gold mill, built atop a towering stone foundation, that used a cutting-edge (at the time) chlorination process to extract gold from the host rock being processed. Today the mill buildings are long gone, but the enormous stone foundation still dominates the old Wall Street site.

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The Wall Street chlorination mill in its prime.

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The towering foundation of the mill today.

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Some more of the stone foundation works that can be found around the mill site today.

Wall Street had a Post Office from 1898 to 1921 when the mining operations subsided and the population moved on.  Wall Street today has a small year-round population, as well as a number of summer residents. The town site today is a mixture of old and new, occupied, and vacant- The old schoolhouse has been converted into a residence, and the Assayer’s Office is now a museum open to the public in summer months.

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Wall Street school house, converted into a residence in recent years.

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The James F. Bailey Assayer’s Office- Now a museum in the summer months

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A view down main street shows the chlorination mill and the Assayer’s Office sometime in the glory days of Wall Street, the town boomed between 1989 and 1921.

 

Wall Street suffered some damage in the floods of 2013, and a large two-story house at the mouth of the canyon was damaged so severely it has since been torn down.

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Sadly, this old Victorian house was damaged in the flood of 2013 and has been torn down since this photo was taken. Note: Front lower wall is bulging outwards due to flood damage.

 

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Rexford, Colorado is the first featured spot in “A Ghost Town a Day For 30 Days” which will last the month of April.

Rexford was the small settlement that sprang up around the Rexford Mining Corporations claims on the high upper reaches of the Swan River near Breckenridge, Colorado. Rexford dates to 1881, following the discovery of gold veins at the site by Daniel Patrick in 1880.  Rexford faded into oblivion sometime around 1900.

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One of the first cabins you will encounter as you approach Rexford, this cabin sits on a hillside about a few hundred yards from the main part of the Rexford mining camp

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Another view of the same cabin on the outskirts of Rexford

Rexford consisted of the mines, a general store, an assayer’s office, a large log bunkhouse, a number of small personal cabins, and a saloon. Today the remnants of all of the buildings and the giant cast iron bioler from the mine workings remain in a beautiful meadow at the edge of timberline along a rugged 4×4 trail.

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According to an description of the town this tiny log foundation was once the Assayer’s Office

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One of the small personal cabins remaining at Rexford

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Rexford dwelling

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These are the ruins of the giant log bunkhouse at Rexford

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A pine tree now calls this miner’s cabin home

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This is the collapsed facade of the Rexford General Store

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A view from the collapsed General Store looking across the 4×4 trail through town, the logs in the distance mark the spot of the boarding house at Rexford.

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Another cabin nearly lost to time and nature

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Remains of the Assayer’s Office and Saloon at Rexford

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Wildflowers at Rexford

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Mine wrokings and the old cast iron boiler at Rexford

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I first became aware of Hoyt, Colorado around 20 years ago when a friend and I went and bought a Model T Ford roadster and some other old car parts from a farmer who lived there. Hoyt struck me as strange even back then, it was an hour or so east of Denver, and situated near the dry, cottonwood lined bottom of Bijou Creek. About every third house or ranch was occupied, leaving the other two abandoned.

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This old house in Hoyt was torn down some time since my last visit

There was no actual “town” of Hoyt left, just scattered dwellings in every direction. In what seemed like it might have once been Hoyt’s business district were a number of abandoned homes and garage type structures. Old cars in various states of decay ranging the 1920s to the 1960s littered the pastures and lots. One auto wrecking business on a short, dirt spur road seemed to be the only commerce left in town 20 years ago, and we stopped in for a look. I do not remember anything spectacular other than a 1958 Cadillac collecting dust on a far corner of the salvage yard.

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This block beauty can be found north of Hoyt

My friend and I located the farm we were seeking and loaded up the Model T. We were then led to another nearby property and were shown a line of rusted Model T Fords tucked discreetly into a row of trees, and then were allowed to scrounge through an old barn through a mountain of antique Ford parts. With a full trailer we left Hoyt.

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A small building on the road to Hoyt

A couple of months ago I decided to return to Hoyt, with another friend riding shotgun, to snap some photos of the abandoned buildings around the area. Much like last time, Hoyt just seemed “strange” you can’t help but feel like you are always being watched when you drive through.

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It always feels like someone is watching you as you approach Hoyt

 

We were slowly driving up and down the two or three streets that roughly mark the center of Hoyt, taking photos of abandoned buildings. One lot had a number of particularly photogenic buildings, and I wanted to get shots from different angles so, I made a number of passes by. 

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One of the more picturesque buildings at Hoyt

When we reached the far end of Hoyt, and stopped in the Hoyt Community Center parking lot, and I looked over my map for any other place nearby that would be worth a look. We pulled back on to the county road in search of a dot on the map called “Leader.” As I turned onto a southbound dirt road, I stopped again to admire a 1956 Chevy station wagon next to an old storage building. Out of nowehere a Jeep appeared in a cloud of dust and slammed on its brakes next to us. I rolled down my window and the driver of the Jeep angrily asked “Can I ask why you are staking out my property?”  I told him I was merely taking photos of the abandoned buildings around the area. The man in the Jeep did not seem to believe me, and explained that he did not appreciate us “staking out” his land. Again, I reassured him that I was only taking photos of abandoned buildings, showed him my camera, and apologized. He continued to glare at me from his Jeep. I decided it would be best to just drive off at this point, as we did, a ATV began to approach at a high rate of speed from an adjacent dirt road, and the driver stared us down as we drove by. It was clear that visitors are not welcome in Hoyt, or at least not on the day we visited!

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Another of the buildings left in what looked like the town center at Hoyt

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