Posts Tagged ‘Ghost Town’

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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Abandoned Western Colorado- Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of the Rockies

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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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Abandoned Western Colorado- Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of the Rockies

 

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Just a quick group of photos from my recent visit to Brandon, Colorado on the eastern plains. Brandon was once a stop on the Kansas & Pacific Railroad, but has faded into oblivion. Today not much remains at Brandon other than some grain storage silos, two or three occupied homes, and numerous abandoned houses, businesses, and automobiles. The red brick bank building which is dangerously close to collapsing is the highlight of the town- A concrete vault built into the foundation which once housed the safe is visible in the back corner of the building.

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The bank at Brandon

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Another view of the bank, the concrete vault can bee seen in the back of the structure

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Abandoned business in Brandon

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Some of the many junk cars scattered around the townsite

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a modern grain silo and elevator contrast with a relic home from Brandon’s glory days

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A Quonset hut whipped by the prairie winds housed an old boat

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A close look reveals a building swallowed by shrubs, the antenna tower to the left suggests this may have been a radio station at some point in time

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Another old dwelling in the town

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Where time stopped in Brandon, Colorado

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Brandon, Colorado

My last photo blog about the ghost town of Aroya, Colorado led to a number of people mentioning, relating memories, and asking about Wild Horse- Another small eastern plains town just a few miles down the road from Aroya.

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Storm clouds and high winds welcomed me to Wild Horse in mid-October 2019. The only sign of life I found in town was a American flag flapping proudly and a car parked in front of the Post Office- the only remaining business in this tiny Cheyenne County town. The majority of the remaining buildings, seen here, at Wild Horse sit on the south side of Highway 287.

I visited Wild Horse on the same trip that I visited Aroya, and found a place, much like Aroya, that has seen its best days vanish in the rear view mirror. Wild Horse stills clings to life, though just barely, straddling Highway 287 in Cheyenne County, a little over two hours southeast of Denver.

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These buildings sit on the north side of Highway 287 which runs straight through the center of Wild Horse. A school house built in 1912, and the Post Office are adjacent to these structures.

Wild Horse is a cluster of old storefronts and shops and residential dwellings. With exception of the Post Office, every business and service in Wild Horse are but a memory. A quick drive up and down the streets of Wild Horse reveal that maybe four or five people still live there, but during my visit on a blustery October afternoon, I saw no one stirring.

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The Antelope Bar at Wild Horse.

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Another Shot of the Antelope Bar.

Wild Horse was originally an outpost for the U.S. Cavalry in the late 1860s, named for a pack of wild horses a cavalry detachment guarding railroad surveyors noticed at a water hole in the area. The Kansas-Pacific Railroad set up a section house at Wild Horse to house workers while tracks were laid from Kit Carson to Denver. 

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An old storefront in Wild Horse.

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It is rumored that this  building was the Wild Horse Dance Hall in more prosperous times.

Wild Horse boomed in the early-1900s, having a number of businesses, including a lumber yard, three saloons, a pool hall, a barber shop, hardware store, the two story stone Albany Hotel, and even a newspaper “The Wild Horse Times.” Sheep and cattle ranching, as well farming, and the railroad accounted for the majority of commerce centered at Wild Horse.

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An old postcard shows an image of Wild Horse during its peak years in the early-1900s.

A huge fire in 1917, which started in one of the town’s two creameries when a wood stove toppled off its shoring burned down most of the business district, spelling the beginning of the end for Wild Horse. The depression coupled with the dust bowl epoch of the 1930s further weakened what remained of Wild Horse, then the railroad went under. Today, one hundred years on from the great fire, Wild Horse teeters on the very edge of existence.

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An image taken shortly after the great fire of 1917 which obliterated much of Wild Horse. 

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My 20 best photos of 2018- A little bit of everything, and in no particular order-

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Abandoned Church, Las Mesitas, Colorado

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Twooch aka “Busy Feets”  my polydactyl or “Hemingway” Siamese, she has 25 toes!

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Century House, Golden Gate Canyon, Colorado

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Somewhere in Colorado

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Columbines, near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

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Masonic Lodge, Victor, Colorado

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Hawk, Derry Ranch Placer, Colorado

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View of the Collegiate Peaks near Turret, Colorado

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Grouse, somewhere in Colorado

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Mr. Campbell’s cabin, Campbell Town, Colorado

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Wild Turkey, somewhere in Colorado

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Hot Rod Hill Climb, Central City, Colorado

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Miner’s Shack, Freeland, Colorado

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Near Rabbit Ears Mountain, New Mexico

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Mills, New Mexico

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La Liendre, New Mexico

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Sandhill Crane, Pecos River, New Mexico

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Along the Pecos River, New Mexico

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Holman, New Mexico

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Moon over the Sangre de Cristos, near Taos, New Mexico

Just got home from another mini-vacation to Victor, Colorado and was once again impressed and amazed at all of the things I found that I had missed on previous trips. Missing little details is easy to do in a town that once had a population of 12,000 around 1900, which now has about 400 residents. Whatever you do, however, DO NOT call Victor a “ghost town” I made that mistake once and only once. A week’s worth of hate mail and  subsequent explaining and apologizing, and I was back on in good graces with the locals!

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Panoramic Painting of Victor circa 1900

 

Victor has always caused me mixed emotions- On one hand it heartbreaking to see so many empty store fronts and vacant properties, I imagine how beautiful and bustling this town must have been in its heyday, when it even boasted a fancy “San Francisco” style trolley line known as the “Victor Inter-Urban Railway.” On the other hand, I love Victor as it is, and would be devastated to see the gentrification that has destroyed so much of Colorado happen here- I want Victor to retain its character, and anymore in Colorado, “character” is too often bulldozed to make way for luxury condos and coffee shops for people with no ties to Colorado and no respect for the State’s history.

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Victor in 1899, the building on the left is the Victor Hotel which still welcomes guests today

A huge amalgamation of abandoned, occupied, old and new (mostly old though) and a sense of a mining boom town suspended in time best describes Victor, Colorado, sister city of the more famous Cripple Creek, just six miles away around a mountain of mine tailings. Preservation efforts have been carried out or started on a number of the buildings around the town, and visitors can still stay in the historic Victor Hotel, comfortable, large rooms, with great views and giant arched windows are available for a very reasonable rate year-round. A couple of small cafes, The Side Door and The Mining Claim 1899, and a the Fortune Club Saloon (the Fortune Club also offers rooms) serve the needs of hungry and thirsty visitors as well as the locals, many of whom work at the nearby Newmont gold mine. A few antique and gift shops, a liquor store, and a tiny general store round out Victor’s business district. The most impressive building to be found in town (in my opinion) is the old Masonic Lodge, be sure not to miss it!

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A view looking west down Victor Avenue, the Victor Hotel is the tallest building on the right. Several blocks of largely vacant storefronts radiate out, north and south, from Victor Avenue.

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Part of the Victor business district, note the “Undertakers” advertisement

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Masonic Lodge

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A look downtown and you can imagine what it must have been like in 1900

One thing you will quickly notice about Victor are the stunning views of the rugged, snow-capped spires of the Sangre de Cristos Mountain to the southwest- The view of the Sangres can not be beat from the 4th floor rooms of the Victor Hotel.

(Click Here for Victor Hotel Website) 

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View of the Sangre de Cristos Mountains from the 4th floor rooms of the Victor Hotel

Another aspect of Victor that first-time visitors may find unusual is the large amount of wildlife that freely roam the town, deer and foxes, unconcerned with the people and cars around them. And, almost as if trained, it seems the wildlife prefers to use the painted crosswalks in town when crossing the road- I have been entertained watching this numerous times! Just a reminder though, never ever, ever, feed the wildlife, they are still wild animals, no matter how tame they might appear. Human food harms wildlife, it also causes wildlife to associate humans with food, which is bad for both us and the animals, just don’t do it. Enjoy the critters from a distance and take only photos.

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This well-behaved fox and its family are regular fixtures in downtown Victor

 

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From my hotel room window above I watched this fox use the crosswalks every time it needed to cross the streets in town, take it slow driving through, there are lots of animals roaming town!

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The deer in Victor have the same street smarts as their fox neighbors

Vintage advertising and forlorn, antique mining machinery can be found all over the town. Adding to Victor’s unique personality is the fact that mine shafts exist right in the middle of town! When you find a rich vein of ore while excavating the foundation for a building, you forget about the building and get into the mining business! One the east edge of town a colossal two-story red brick schoolhouse with an imposing flight of stairs leading to its front door dominates the view. Below the school is the “Gold Bowl” a football field built many decades ago- The entire project was paid for with gold ore excavated while leveling the playing field!

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Vintage advertising abounds in the streets of Victor

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A small fraction of the vintage mining equipment scattered about Victor

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An old tractor

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This beautiful old Buick watches over things from a ridge above town, deer tracks nearby

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The old Colorado & Midland train station in Victor

North, east, south, and west of Victor’s business district are rows of Victorian era residences. Many occupied year-round, others occupied seasonally, and plenty abandoned and forlorn. You can take one look up and down the streets and sense what a beautiful town Victor was in its prime. The people here lived a good, comfortable life, before the mines went bust.

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Trapped in time

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Remarkable woodwork on this old beauty!

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Withered beauty

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If walls could talk

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Craftsmanship which has weathered the harsh winds of time

 

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Mine tailings in the middle of a row of homes

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Once called “home” by a miner and his family

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The old Texaco at the edge of town hasn’t plugged a flat or changed oil in many years

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A  doe deer inspects the “skinny” house on the east end of town

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And a minute later….the buck deer arrived

Victor, Colorado, now only a shadow of its former glory is truly a gem to visit if you are a history buff or interested in the history of mining. Victor and Cripple Creek, Colorado were the heart of a massive gold-producing district from around 1895 to 1930s. Mining structures, debris, and abandoned and occupied homes and businesses dating to the boom years radiate out in all directions from Victor. Newmont Gold which still operates the sprawling mine nearby along with Teller County and various historic/preservation societies have teamed up to construct a series of walking paths that wind their way through many of the old mining areas, which give visitors an up close look at the structures and equipment used 100 years ago.

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Miners at the Vindicator just north of Victor, today a foot path leads you to the ruins of the mill in he background of this photo, much, much more impressive in person!

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The towering remains of the Vindicator north of Victor, a foot path I didn’t care to walk in the snow leads below for an awe-inspiring view of this enormous ghost structure

 

If you find yourself in the Colorado Springs or Canon City, Colorado area, be sure to plan a day trip to visit nearby Victor and soak up this town’s very unique atmosphere and wonderful sights!

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Locals

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A handsome fella

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At first glance it is hard to believe Goldfield, Colorado once boasted a population of over 3,500 residents when the nearby Portland Mine provided ample employment opportunities around 1900.

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The Portland Mine at Goldfield in its prime around 1900

The ebb and flow of mining is a brutal life of boom and bust, in Goldfield, as in nearly every mining town and camp in the West, the ore played out that coupled with the Federal Government abandoning the gold standard, the town withered and faded away. Today, Goldfield still struggles to hang on, a handful of residents, some retired, some weekenders, some descendants of earlier miners, and a smattering of coyotes, deer, and foxes still occupy a number of homes in this boom and bust town.

 

Newmont Gold is reworking the tailings piles from yesteryear nearby, as well as carrying out new large-scale mining operations which has also brought a few folks back to town, but for the most part, Goldfield is fragile, wind-blown remnant of a forgotten era. The splintered wood and cracked cornices, peeled paint, and shifting foundations stand today as silent witnesses of grander times in Goldfield. The highlight of the town in the City Hall and fire station, built in 1899, which stands guard over the town, its weathered and flaking yellow paint an ode the gold that once brought life to this great Colorado ghost town.

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Preserved in a state of “arrested decay” in recent City Hall, built in 1899, looms over Goldfield

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Another view of the combination City Hall and Fire Station

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Goldfield’s residential streets are a combo of abandoned and occupied dwellings

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A 100-year-old miner’s shack with the Newmont property in the distance, providing work for modern-day miners who rework the tailings piles of yesterday’s mines for microscopic gold which could not be harvested with the primitive  techniques of the 19th Century. Newmont employs hundreds at decent wages, reworking the “waste rock” of 100 years ago.

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A little elbow grease and we’d have a winner!

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A seasonal home in Goldfield, boarded up for the winter

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This beautiful old Ford and the house behind still have lots of promise!

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Many years since a fire warmed the hearth of this Goldfield house

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If walls could talk

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On the south end of Goldfield is the short-lived suburb of “Hollywood” which was swallowed by Goldfield’s expansion. Hollywood was actually a suburb of nearby Victor, about a mile away in the boom days. Hollywood was soon swallowed by Goldfield when the Portland Mine boomed.

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One of Hollywood’s nicer homes

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On the north end of Goldfield sits this impressive two-story, occupied until recent years as evinced by the satellite dish. This home is where the “suburbs” or “satellite camp” of Goldfield known both as “Indpendence” and “Hull City” was located. Just south lies the Vindicator Mine.

Ghost Town Guide Books and Photography by Jeff Eberle- CLICK HERE!

 

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The Vindicator, a truly impressive structure, photos do it no justice. It is an enormous building.

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A “fancy” house at the old Indpendence/Hull City site

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Close-up of the fancy house

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Home of the mine boss and his family, occupied until the early-1950s

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Another “satellite” camp of Goldfield was Bull Hill where the hardscrabble miners lived in retired railroad cars on the windswept side of the hill.