Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Gold Rush’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Wapiti Mine Office and General Store 2016

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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Whitehorn

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Whitehorn

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Whitehorn

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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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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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!

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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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Manhattan

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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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Checkout My Other Photo Blogs!

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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After a couple of initial bumps in the road, my book “The Gray Ghosts of Colorado- Book I: The Copperheads” is now available for purchase through the link posted below.

This book is the first in a four book series which will document the suppressed history of Colorado Territory’s southern origins, the secessionist movement of 1860-1861 and its leaders, an introduction to the Knights of the Golden Circle underground within Colorado Territory, and the political with hunt led by Governor William Gilpin and Major John Chivington that saw a large number of Colorado’s founding fathers imprisoned at the end of 1861. Covered in this book is the early history of Colorado from 1850 to 1861. Subsequent books in the series will follow in chronological order.

“The Gray Ghosts of Colorado” series represent the first work to-date, focusing solely on the secessionist/Confederate movement and organization specifically in Colorado Territory. While other texts touch on the subject, no scholarly work has ever been presented on the topic previously, and what little information there is available on the subject is largely false or sanitized based on my seven years of research and analysis. My book presents the facts, as they were in the years 1858-1861, and my research is based off of predominately pre-1920 sources, as later “accepted” sources are riddled with falsehoods and errors.

Book format: 8×10 inches, softcover, 224 pages, numerous black and white photos.

Price $19.99 plus shipping.

Also available in Ebook/Apple iPad format $3.99 and PDF file $6.99

Click the link below to get you copy of “The Gray Ghosts of Colorado- Book I: The Copperheads” and enjoy a history of Colorado you have never heard before.

Click Link Below or Copy and Paste into Browser:

http://www.blurb.com/b/8748260-the-gray-ghosts-of-colorado

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

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Tucked away in Gamble Gulch about halfway between the towns of Black Hawk and Nederland, Colorado stand the sparse ruins of Perigo.  Perigo was a busy gold mining town in the latter years of the 19th Century and was home to several prosperous mines including the Golden Sun, Tip Top, Perigo and the Free Gold. A massive 60-stamp mill was erected at the town to crush the ores from the nearby mines.

Perigo had around three-hundred residents during it’s peak years. There was a general store, mine offices, the mill, several saloons, a social club and many private dwellings ranging from crude log cabins and tents to lavish two-story homes that would’ve been considered mansions in the day. Perigo’s social club put on plays and banquets, and tried on a number of occasions to entice the leading opera stars and actors from Central City and Denver to hold shows in the town- It is unknown, and doubtful that any ever accepted the offer.

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Perigo- A View Down Main Street Around 1890

When the mining industry collapsed in the 1890s Perigo began a steady decline into oblivion. The mines were all closed and the mill was shut down. Struggling on for a few more years was the general store that served the needs of those who still lived in Gamble Gulch, but soon, it too faded and was abandoned.

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Tourists visit the abandoned stamp mill around 1930

Sometime around the middle of the last Century a man purchased the entire town site, the mill, and all the remaining buildings and homes of Perigo.  The now ghost town of Perigo could still be visited and admired from the narrow and rocky road leading through Gamble Gulch.  Then one day the new owner was hit with a tax bill he could not pay. Gilpin County expected the man to pay property taxes on each of the structures on his property. He informed the county that all of the buildings were long abandoned and in various states of decay, but the tax man didn’t care, the law was the law and the taxes had to paid. Inviting the county tax assessor to Perigo, the owner showed him the rotten and collapsing buildings, but the county stood firm and demanded he pay up. A simple solution presented itself- If there were no standing structures on his property, the tax bill would vanish. So, unfortunately for old Perigo, the man filled the buildings at the town site with dynamite and blew Perigo off the map.

 

Today you’ll only find the twisted and shattered remains of the mill, some wood structures flat on the ground like a stack of popsicle sticks, a stone or concrete foundation tucked in the grass, and a couple of old tumbledown tin sided shacks being reclaimed by the earth.  One small Victorian era house still stands intact way back in the trees, and giant, still occupied, two-story Victorian style which may or may not be original to the site can be found near the mill wreckage.

Click Here for Colorado Ghost Town Guide Books by Jeff Eberle