Before you retrace the steps of the past, be prepared. Many of these stops are off major highways that lead to unmarked, rambling roads — in isolated conditions — removed from modern conveniences. Arm yourself with the latest information on routing, road conditions and an emergency car kit including a fully charged cell phone.
Colorado Ghost Towns & Historical Societies
Aspen Historical Society
620 W. Bleeker Street
Aspen, CO 81611
The Aspen Historical Society provides a wealth of history on Aspen’s ghost towns, history, and gold mining era. Visit their site for more information on Wheeler / Stallard Museum, Holden / Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum, Ashcrofnt Ghost Town, Independence Ghost Town, and Carriage House. The historical society works to preserve the rich history and legends of Aspen and offers year-round events included haunted Halloween tours.
Pikes Peak Ghost Town
400 South 21st Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
Pikes Peak Ghost town houses its own museum to preserve its Wild West past and offer an entertaining look at Colorado’s history. Explore the old boardwalk, Blacksmiths’ shop, saloon, livery stable, General and Merchants of Main Street, and Victorian home with real artifacts and historical recounts of the town. Pan for gold (summer months), visit the old time arcades, and more.
Route of The Silver Kings
Leadville Chamber of Commerce
809 Harrison Ave
Leadville, CO 80461
Leadville’s historic ghost town attractions include the Healy House and Dexter Cabin Museum with furniture, clothing, and pictures of maps from the late 1800’s mining period. Take a walking tour and learn about the millionaire James V. Dexter. Stop by the Heritage Museum for a diorama of mining memorabilia and art gallery, and stroll the Historic District for a walk through history. Nearby, you’ll find the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum for a history of the men and women who pioneered the mining process.
St. Elmo Ghost Town
County Road 162, 16 miles west of town
Nathrop, CO 81236
St. Elmo, Colorado was founded in 1880 and boasts over 150-patented mine claims in the area alone. Nearly 2,000 residents called St. Elmo home and made a living in the mining area and through it proximity to the train. Today’s St. Elmo General Store offers antiques and gifts as well as ATV, Jeep, and cabin rentals.
Ruins of Miners’ Lives in Montana, New Mexico & California
4200 Bannack Road
Dillon, Montana 59725
John White discovered gold on Grasshopper Creek in 1862 and the town of Bannack was born. It was briefly the first Territorial Capital of Montana before it moved to Virginia City. From the late 1860’s to the 1930’s, Bannack continued as a mining town with a fluctuating population. Around the 1950’s, most of the population of the town had moved on to other prospects and the State of Montana declared Bannack a State Park where over sixty structures remain.
Hwy 38, 5 miles north of town
Eagles Nest, New Mexico 87718
Elizabethtown once housed over 7,000 residents along the Moreno Valley along Baldy Mountain. Despite the efforts of the original settlers to keep the discovered gold a secret, word got out and a rush of gold miners arrived to seek their fortune. Local miners were soon paying $1 a month for a 500 square-foot parcel and half the proceeds of a claim. Soon general stores, cabins, and shops opened to support the mining town, many of which stand today.
6 miles north of town
Silver City, New Mexico 88053
Thomas Birch, Colonel Snively and a man named “Hicks” discovered gold in Pinos Altos along the Gila National Forest in 1860. Thirsty after a long day of exploration, the men stopped for a drink at Bear Creek and discovered gold. Today, the ghost town’s Main Street resembles a film set where many of the 19th century buildings have been painstakingly restored and decorated with original memorabilia. Pay a visit to the local museum, peruse Southwestern art, pan for gold, and enjoy a walk through time.
Bodie State Historic Park
13 miles east of Highway 395
Bridgeport, CA 93517
This genuine California gold-mining town was once home to 10,000 residents. Today, visitors can walk down the deserted streets founded by Waterman S. Body aka William Bodey. In 1962, the ghost town was designated a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park. Tours of the Stamp Mill are given daily, and show how gold was taken from quartz and made into bullion bars.
Ghost Towns of Utah & Otherwordly Resources
Off highway UT59 near Rockville
Rockville, Utah 84763
Settled in 1859, original founders migrated to the area for self-sufficiency and claim land for cotton and cropping. Flooding and Indian attacks created tension for early pioneers, but eventually the town thrived with fertile soil and proximity to the Virgin River. Eventually most of its settlers moved onto better land 30-miles away and the town’s population dwindles. Today, Grafton attracts visitors with its historic homes, old school house, town cemetery, orchards, and lovely banks along the Virgin River. Film buffs might know the town from scenes in Child Bride of Short Creek, In Old Arizona, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and The Red Fury.
If you can’t get enough of the Old West, pick up Ghost Towns of the American West by Raymond Bial for information on the country’s most infamous ghost towns, accompanied by photos of their remains.
For those of you who encountered a supernatural sighting on your ghost town adventure, visit Haunted Places, a website managed by Dennis William Hauck that’s a guide of thousands of haunted places in all 50 States and beyond. Get the latest on paranormal sightings and investigations and true-life experiences. You’ll also find information on hundreds of houses, hotels, schools and other locations inhabited by ghosts, poltergeists, goblins, and other supernatural entities.
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