Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Ghost Towns’

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St. Elmo, Independence, Ashcroft, Nevadaville…the usual suspects come to mind when Colorado ghost towns are discussed, but how many of you have heard of or been to Manoa and Whitehorn? I know I had never heard of either just a year ago.

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Whitehorn

I found Whitehorn on an old map, then found a few mentions of the old mining camp online and in some old dusty books. Whitehorn, in its heyday around 1900, was a booming place, claiming ten developed blocks, numerous businesses, boardwalks along the streets, and a population of around one thousand. Whitehorn even had its own newspaper for 15 years! By 1912 Whitehorn was dead, the gold ore having played out and the people having moved on.

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The Whitehorn Post Office and General Store circa 1900

I had a look at a modern satellite image that showed a few structures and foundations were still there, so I headed out to see firsthand what Whitehorn was all about. When I reached the site, I found it just out of reach a couple hundred yards beyond a fence, on private ranch land. I zoomed in as far as I could with my camera from the county road, and snapped a few photos of what was left- A few log cabins, a large swaybacked building, an outhouse, not much to indicate that a town of one thousand residents ever existed at the spot.

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On the road into Whitehorn I had noticed an impressive and out-of-place two-story log home on a hillside a few miles away. There were no visible roads leading to this picturesque home, which appeared to have recently had a fresh coat of red paint and a new steel roof applied to it, other than that it looked to be abandoned. I assumed it must be an old ranch house, and snapped a photo of it from the road, not thinking much of it at the time. A few days later, after I returned home from my trip, while doing some reading on the history of Whitehorn, I found an old newspaper clipping about another town in the same area called “Manoa” a bit more sleuthing, and I learned that the stately two-story I had photographed on that side hill was actually the Hershberger home, the owner of the gold mine at Manoa, and that it was no ranch house at all, but the old Manoa townsite! Of course I had to check satellite images to see what I had missed in my initial visit, and from what I could see, there appeared to be at least one more structure adjacent to the red two-story. Well, I had to go back and have a better look.

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Manoa Newspaper Article

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Hershberger Home at Manoa

Very little information can be found regarding the history of Manoa. It had a short life, living and dying between 1902 and 1908. No record can be found of the population, and Manoa is only mentioned in a few old newspapers as a byline of articles pertaining to Whitehorn.

I returned to Manoa and took a short hike up the hill to the red house. A fence had been erected around the structure and signs indicating that it was private property belonging to the Lantz Ranch were clearly posted. Like its neighbor Whitehorn, Manoa was just beyond my reach, this time only feet way, not hundreds of yards like Whitehorn. Beyond the fence were a number of well-preserved cabins, their rusted tin roofs covered in thick green moss. Manoa was absolutely beautiful, situated among tall pines and willows. It was a perfect setting for a town, and the foliage just beginning to change with the coming of autumn made a perfect backdrop for my photos. Respecting the private property boundary, I was able to snap my photos from the fence line.

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I had heard rumors of a “lost” ghost town high in the Gunnison Country of Colorado a few times over the years. Being an avid “ghost towner” these rumors always piqued my interest. Nobody seemed to know much about this “lost” ghost town. There was even confusion over the name- “Cameltown” seemed to be the consensus on what this place was called, but why would a remote mining camp in the black timber of Colorado be named “Cameltown” Colorado is a long way from any camels, except for a few in the regional zoos, and I’d never heard of any camels being imported and used to haul supplies to the mines like they had been used elsewhere in the world.

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Hours of research, countless dead ends, and I finally found myself on the right path, and it was obvious once I saw it- I was looking for “Campbell Town” not “Cameltown.” Named for its founder Campbell Town was somewhere in Gunnison County, rumored to be known by only a handful of locals, and even among the locals it was somewhat of an enigma, only a few had seen the place themselves, but it did exist!

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So I began another earnest search for information, this time for “Campbell Town” and, like my previous search for “Cameltown” I was striking out. I couldn’t find any information, no matter where I looked. None of my ghost town guide books made any mention of it, I found one small blurb online mentioning it was near Ohio City and Pitkin, but it was hidden amongst the trees in a maddening maze of off-road trails. I poured over my topographic maps and marked potential or likely spots, I double-checked my paper maps against modern satellite images. Then, as I delved deeper into the internet, a scan of an old topographical map showed up listing a “Cameltown” a couple miles above Ohio City…So after all that I was back to looking for “Cameltown”!

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I had another look at the old topo map and found the spot on a satellite image, and when I zoomed in I could see a mine dump and what looked like a couple of structures. Close enough for me! I hopped in my Jeep and headed for “Cameltown.” A rocky, steep, and overgrown trail led me to a weathered and dilapidated wooden Forest Service sign that read “Campbell Town est. 1880 Population Max. 44” so we were back to “Campbell Town” again! I had a good laugh and decided that whatever the place was named, I had finally found it.

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At first sight, Campbell Town looks like a small meadow with only two tumbledown cabins, but then, buried in the trees on the side of a steep slope is another cabin, rather well preserved considering the remote location and severe winters, and then down a spur road from the main trail the ruins of several other cabins appear as well as three more relatively intact cabins. A large mine dump leads to the ruins of what was once a large mill. High on another hillside, hidden in the trees, is one more cabin, far removed from the others.

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Rusted cans and broken shards of porcelain litter the landscape. Here and there you’ll find the remnants of an old leather boot, or a well-worn rubber boot sole. What appeared at first to be a birdhouse hanging from a tree branch was, in fact, an old solvent can the branch had grown through long ago. Inside the best preserved cabin is a collection of artifacts found by others lucky enough to find Campbell Town- A boot, the iron head of a pickaxe, an old salt shaker, various cans, bottles, nails, etc. License plates dating back to 1933 have been nailed to the walls by visitors. Names of visitors and dates all the way back to the 1920s can be found scrawled on the walls of the cabin.

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Campbell Town instantly earned a spot in my “Top 10 Colorado Ghost Towns”- Not only did I enjoy the search for this little beauty, I loved what I found- A place largely intact and untouched, just like the rumors said it would be. I will share my photos of Campbell Town,  but I’ll keep the whereabouts to myself. Campbell Town needs to be “found” to be truly appreciated, and if you are lucky enough to find it, you are lucky enough!  Good Luck in your search, it is well-worth the effort!

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With the meteoric population explosion in Colorado, more and more of the State’s past is being lost to the bulldozer and replaced with new construction. Here is one last look at 25 old dwellings before they vanish- 

#1- Lake County

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#2 Washington County

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#4 Baca County

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#5 Teller County

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#6  Weld Countyjeo1

#7 Park County

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#8 Costilla County

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#9 Lincoln County

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#10 Hinsdale Countycapc2

#11 Park County

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#12 Morgan County

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#13 Costilla County

Russell#14 Weld County

Farmhouse Near Grover#15 Teller County

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#16 Gilpin County

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#17 Las Animas County

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#18 Gunnison County

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#19 Chaffee County

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#21 Costilla County

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#22 Las Animas County

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#23 Summit County

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#24 Baca County

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#25 Costilla County

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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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Book” The Gray Ghosts of Colorado Only $19.99! CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

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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

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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

 

BOOK: The Gray Ghosts of Colorado only $19.99!