Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’

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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Colorado Ghost Town Guide Book- The Foothills Region

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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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COLORADO GHOST TOWN GUIDE BOOK- THE FOOTHILLS REGION- CLICK HERE!

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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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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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