Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Ghost Towns’

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 # 6 of A Ghost Town a Day For 30 Days features Bluebird, a picturesque mining camp in Boulder County Colorado. Bluebrid requires a round-trip hike of 3 1/2 miles to reach, but the trek is well worth it.

Bluebird dates to the early 1870s when a rich silver vein rumored to assay at $6,000 per ton was discovered. Bluebird was an up-and-down mining camp until as recently as the 1950s when the veins finally played out. Parts of the 1966 film “Stagecoach”  starring Ann Margaret and Bing Crosby was filmed at Bluebird.

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The centerpiece of Bluebrid is the 2-story bunkhouse

Today there is plenty to be seen at Bluebird- The mine workings, the stunning bunkhouse with its wooden porch, the toppled log remains of the earlier 1870s era bunkhouse, the stone and brick mine manager’s home, and most unusual for a 10,000 foot elevation setting- A stone-lined swimming pool with centrally located firepit used to heat the waters!  The rushing waters of Boulder Creek and stunning views in every direction are the icing on the cake at Bluebird.

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Backside of the bunkhouse

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The small, arched window was used by the camp bookkeeper distribute pay to the miners

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Front door to the bunkhouse

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Front porch/boardwalk of the bunkhouse

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The collapsed remnants of the earlier-1870s era bunkhouse

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A view south looking over the Bluebird camp

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The mine manager’s house

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Staircase leading into the seemingly out-of-place swimming pool

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Swimming pool right outside the front door of the mine manager’s home

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Central firepit inside the swimming pool used to heat the waters

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Animal pens used for livestock kept at the Bluebird camp

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Building near the entrance to the mine

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Shed at the mine

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A chipmunk waves “hello” from the boardwalk at Bluebird

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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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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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Haswell, Colorado was founded in the early 1900s, some accounts say 1905, others say 1908. Haswell sprang up along the line of Missouri Pacific railroad and once had a population of around 200 in its peak days.

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Buildings along the main street in Haswell.

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A vacant home along Highway 96 in the center of Haswell

Today Haswell, like most of the other small towns in Kiowa County struggles to hang on. Today only around 60 residents remain in and around Haswell. The highlights of Haswell are the old Texaco gas station which you can’t miss along Highway 96, and the tiny jail, which the residents boast is the smallest in the United States. Unfortunately when I visited town, the view of the jail was obscured by vehicles so I couldn’t get a photo.

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The Old Texaco gas station- A new tin roof will ensure it is around for a few more years.

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One of the many empty houses in the residential section of Haswell

Haswell is a combination of abandoned or empty storefronts, grain elevators, service stations and residential dwellings. When I passed through around half of the buildings in town were vacant.  Someone was barbequing and the smell drifted through the tiny town. At a small part on the western edge of the community two boys played baseball and stopped to wave as I passed by.

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This old building with its aerial tower out back had the looks of an old radio station.

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A row of forlorn shops on the west end of Haswell.

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Another vacant house in town

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Remote and virtually unknown, Galatea, Colorado is a tiny ghost town, or more accurately, cluster of abandoned buildings left marking the townsite in Kiowa County.

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Very little historic information exists about Galatea. It appears to have been founded in the 1880s, and had a Post Office from 1887 to 1948.  One account says Galatea was a trading center along the route of the Pueblo and State Line railroad. Today the dirt berm of the railroad can still be seen, but the iron rails are long gone.

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When I visited one adobe house, one milled lumber house, some antique farm implements buried in the sand, and a couple of sheds remained at the town site. A short distance away, across the old railroad bed to the south was an old farm house set deep in some trees with a windmill.

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Last weekend I headed headed east onto the great high plains for my first visit to Arlington, and obscure Colorado ghost town which dates to 1887 when it sprang up along the Missouri Pacific Railroad line in sparsely populated Kiowa County roughly 120 miles southeast of Colorado Springs.

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One of the old shacks that remains at Kiowa County’s Arlington

En route to Arlington my mind became lost in the endless flat expanse, covered in a short stubble of the previous year’s blonde prairie grasses. Here and there a patch snow occupied a shadowy depression in the flats. People out here, in this forgotten corner of the Colorado landscape, are few and far between. It had been thirty minutes or so since I saw another motorist, and I was daydreaming when I sped past the Kiowa County Sherriff who quickly flipped a U-turn, lights flashing, and pulled me over. Ten minutes, 4-driver’s license points, and a $188 fine later I was back on my way to find Arlington.

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Another Arlington shack

Taking Highway 96 southwest out of the tiny town of Eads, I rumbled down the blacktop for another 35 miles without seeing another motorist, then I reached Arlington. Arlington is defined by a few occupied farm houses and out buildings that straddle Highway 96, then the old town site just off the pavement on a dirt road to the west.

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A hack and the schoolhouse which mark the west end of the Arlington town plat

Three blocks appear to have been platted and developed at one point in Arlington, but that was long ago. Today only the dirt streets remain, along with a couple of abandoned shacks, and the stunning two-story Arlington schoolhouse which can be seen from a distance as you approach the ghost town. One small home remains occupied on the northeast end of the old town footprint, but nobody was home when I passed through.  I spent a few minutes snapping photos and wondering what Arlington once looked like. It must have been something in its prime since it had a two-story schoolhouse, an oddity out here on the plains.  Not much to see these days in Arlington, but the old schoolhouse is worth the trip!

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Arlington schoolhouse- Worth the trip!

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North end of the schoolhouse

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You can see the schoolhouse at Arlington from several miles away as you approach Arlington

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East side of the schoolhouse

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The old school appears to be the place where all of Kiowa County’s bald tires go to die

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