Posts Tagged ‘Old West Ghost Towns’

Day #14- Turret, Colorado

Turret was an “accidental” gold town that came to life in the 1880 in the sandy crags along the Arkansas River near Salida, Colorado. Originally Turret was a logging camp that went by the name “Camp Austin” which provided logs to charcoal kilns in nearby Nathrop. The charcoal was then sold to the various railroads operating in the Arkansas River Valley.

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Some prospecting had been done in the 1870s around Camp Austin, and the railroad laid tracks to the neighboring iron mine at Hematite. A few small copper mines dotted the arid hills around the camp as well.  Around 1885 prospectors delved deeper into the rock nearby and discovered gold. The rush was on. By 1890 a tent city had sprang up and Camp Austin was renamed “Turret City” after Turret Mountain which overlooks the spot.

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The Gold Bug and the Anaconda were the two biggest mines at Turret, and supported a population of around 100 miners and their families. A miniature one-room, log school house was built on a hillside, as well as a small hotel, and a Post Office. The school held classes until the early 1930s, and the Post Office struggled along until 1939 when it closed its doors.

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The school house at Turret held classes until the 1930s

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Another view of the school

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The hotel at Turret

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Turret sat abandoned for many years until the site was rediscovered and a number of historic cabins were renovated and turned into summer getaways. In recent years developers have snatched up lots in and around Turret and newer homes have been constructed.  In 2014, one of a Turret’s few year-round residents, a 92-year-old man, was killed and his house leveled when a homemade bomb he was building detonated, the event put Turret back in the newspaper headlines for the first time since gold was discovered there.

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The Post Office has preserved by locals, the office closed in 1939

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Today Turret is a mixture of old and new. Many abandoned cabins, as well as the school house, and Post Office can still be seen. All of the site is privately owned thse days and well posted, but when I have visited the locals are friendly and don’t mind visitors as long as you stay on the public road and off of their property.

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This small building houses the town well

 

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Colorado Ghost Town Guide- The Foothills Region

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Colorado Ghost Town Guide- The High Rockies

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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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