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32 of the Ancient Ghost Towns in Colorado

By | Last Updated: 19th August 2020

Colorado, a western American state famous for its diverse landscape, has over 1500 ghost towns, of which 640 remain at present. Most of them were flourishing establishments in their heydays famed for its mining business that reached the zenith of success at one point in time. Read on to know about some of the noteworthy ghost towns in Colorado.

Ghost Towns in Colorado

1. Breckenridge, Summit County

Because of its abundant ore reserves and picturesque landscapes, Breckenridge had attained immense popularity in the second half of the 19th century. It had about 2000 inhabitants along with eighteen salons, four blacksmith shops, and five boarding houses. However, with the depletion of the gold and silver stocks and the closure of the major railroads, the population dwindled drastically, reducing to a meager 200, though they never diminished. However, its snow-covered peaks have pulled in a lot of visitors, making it one of the populous municipality of the County of Summit. The ski industry generates a massive revenue of $1.3 billion annually.

Breckenridge Ghost Towns in Colorado

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2. Nevadaville, Gilpin County

It started in 1859 and was a flourishing town because of its rich gold mines. Mostly inhabited by people of Irish descent, a severe fire occurred in 1861, destroying over fifty buildings. The ore mills even went through a lot of trouble in recovering the gold. Though the country flourished till 1900, the population sharply declined post that reducing it to a ghost town. However, the place does not remain entirely deserted. A small number of people still live there, with regular meetings held at Nevadaville Masonic Temple even at present.

Nevadaville Colorado Ghost Towns

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3. Ironton, Ouray County

Situated between Ouray and Silverton, this ghost town was initially called Copper Glen and started in 1893. Because of a whole lot of mining camps adjacent to it, it was densely populated, equipped with hotels, and salons Two trains would ply daily from Silverton. After the decline of the mining industry, its population also lessened, and by the 1960s, it became almost deserted. At present, it has become a place of exploration by curious historians and travelers.

Iron Town Ghost Town Colorado

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4. Apex, Gilpin County

Apex was a mining camp, which reached the zenith of success in the latter half of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. One Richard Mackey had explored the area in the 1870s, and along with a partner, he made good money by mining gold worth $30,000. However, his partner disappeared one morning, leaving him in financial distress. He finally decided to close the hole from where he had procured gold, using two dynamic sticks. Surprisingly, the powerful explosion had extracted ores worth $1800 per ton, which led to the prosperity of Apex. The place had about 1000 residents along with all the modern amenities like salons, hotels, a post office as well as a general store. However, the town experienced a downfall after the two devastating fires that reduced half of it into ruins excepting a few buildings scattered here and there.

Apex Best Ghost Towns in Colorado

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5. Buckskin Joe, Park County

Also known by the name of Lauret or Laurette, Buckskin Joe was a mining town inhabited by non-Native Americans during 1859. Laurette is a combination of the names of the sisters Jeanette and Laura Dodge, who were the only women residing in the camp. Because of the high mineral reserves, the town had a total population of about 5000. However, as the deposits lessened, the number of dwellers also diminished, and Buckskin Joe, that was initially a county seat of Park County, gradually converted into a deserted ghost town.

Buckskin Joe Colorado Ghost Town

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6. Irwin

Situated in the Kebler Pass, Irwin was once a populous city, inhabited by over 1500 people in the latter part of the 19th century. However, the Meeker Massacre in 1879 compelled most of the people to shift elsewhere, converting it into a ghost town.

Irwin Colorado Ghost Town

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7. Victor, Teller County

The first mines which evolved in this region around 1891-1892 were initially known as Victor, though later as the population increased because of its booming mining industry, the entire city acquired the name of Victor. The mines located here as well as in its neighboring town Cripple Creek, went on to become the most flourishing district in Colorado mining gold. In 1900, it reached the zenith of success going on to become the second-largest district in the country regarding producing gold. Some of the significant factors which led to a decline in its population include a 5-hour gruesome fire in 1899. The gold mines also declined steeply after the First and Second World War. Efforts were made to revive the mining industry, with success gained to some extent. However, the population of the town did not increase much.

Victor Colorado Ghost Town

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8. Ludlow, Las Animas County

Ludlow flourished in the 18th century but was a victim to the bloody massacre when the miners along with their family were brutally killed after they went into a conflict with the authorities. At present Ludlow is a ghost town, while the tent city where the miners had put up a temporary shelter on being driven away from the company town after their protests have been preserved and taken care by the United Mine Workers of America. The Ludlow Monument was built in memory of the miners and their families who lost their lives in the tragedy.

Ludlow Colorado Ghost Town

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9. Summitville, Rio Grande County

It was said to be the richest as well as the largest camp in the district of location. After the discovery of gold here in 1870, salons, and mills had developed to cater to the needs of the 600 people living there. A forest fire left the town deserted by 1883, though revival occurred in 1935, and many of the mines commenced functioning again. However, after the Second World War, the production of gold was stopped by the government, so people shifted to copper to make weapons. Postwar, the output of gold reduced though it was never able to make a mark like before. Presently there are 30 weathered structures at that site the best place to visit it is summer, though winters can be profoundly chilling.

Summitville Ghost Town Colorado

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10. Silver Creek, Clear Creek County

Its original name was Daileyville, after a local mine manager named James Dailey. However, locals changed its name into Silver Creek after the stream, which flowed into the Clear Creek. Settlements in the town began in 1875 after the discovery of silver ores, though most of them were closed by 1893 after a significant economic recession. Though they reopened again after the First World War, they shut by 1922. Though there was a population in the town for a while, post the Great Depression in the 1930s, most disappeared. Nothing but a mill and foundations of some building made of stone was all that remained in the 1970s.

Silver Creek Colorado Ghost Town

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11. Animas Forks, San Juan

Animas Forks, located at a height 0f 11,200 feet in the San Juan Mountains, was a famous mining camp. When the town bustled because of its prosperous mining business, a lot of people began to inhabit there. Amenities like a cabin, post office, saloon, hotel, and a general store had been set up. The town also had a newspaper assigned to it by the name of Animas Forks Pioneer published in 1882, continuing till 1886. Residents often migrated to Silverton during the winters for warmth and comfort. However, when mining stopped generating too much of profit, the town began declining. By the 1920s, it turned into a ghost town. At present, tourists still throng the city. After being enlisted under the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, funds have flown in for maintenance.

Animas Forks Ghost Town Colorado

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12. Lenado, Pitkin County

Located outside the Woody Creek area, it had a population of about 300 people until the second half of the 19th century because of the lead and zinc deposits found here. Post office, saloons, sawmills, boarding house, and a mercantile store had also been constructed here during this period. However, after the decrease in the price of lead and unavailability of zinc post the First World War, the population fell rapidly, leaving the town abandoned. In the mid-1960s and early 70s, a lumber mill and logging community developed again, and approximately 100 people lived here for 15 years.

Lenado Colorado Ghost Town

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13. Crystal, Gunnison County

Situated on the upper banks of the Crystal River, this city evolved in the year 1885. It acquired a lot of fame as a mining town because of the silver deposits found at the north and south confluence of the Crystal River during 1880. When the city was prospering in the mid-1880s, about 500 people lived there, and provisions included hotels, saloons, barbershops, post office as well as a specific newspaper. However, its heydays came to an end after the economic depression, resulting in depreciation in their population.

Crystal City Colorado Ghost Town

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14. Ashcroft, Pitkin County

Originally referred to as the Castle Forks City and then Chloride, this mining town was situated at the location of Aspen. The initiatives of two men, named W.F. Coxhead and Charles B. Culver, led this city to be a rich reserve of silver. The population increased to 3500, and the town also had twenty saloons as well as six hotels. However, as the deposits of silver decreased, the investors and workers shifted focus to flourishing cities like Aspen. By 1885 only 100 people were left. In the 20th century, only a handful of people remained most of who whiled away their time in hunting, fishing, drinking, or reading. After the demise of its last resident Jack Leahy in 939, the city turned into a ghost town. However, the town had become an area of interest for many during the winter Olympics in the 1930s. Stuart Mace, a veteran of World War II, took the initiatives of incorporating Ashcroft under the National Register of Historic Places in the year 1975. The picturesque views of this place have made it one of the sought after wedding venues at present.

Ashcroft Ghost Town Colorado

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15. St. Elmo, Chaffee County

Situated in the locality adjoining the Sawatch Range was a dwelling place for over 2000 people at a time when mining for gold and silver had commenced. However, after the decline of the mining industry, the population lessened. Enlisted under the National Register of Historic Places, this ghost town is noted for its preservation to date. People live here at present too though in fewer numbers. The mining roads here function as trails, and there is also a general store for people to purchase their items or take off rent vehicles for rent.  The Ghost Town Guest House located here has a few rooms along with provision for breakfast.

St Elmo Ghost Town Colorado

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16. Montezuma, Summit County

Another prosperous mining camp of the past, its foundation stone was laid in the year 1865 post the discovery of silver in the adjacent Argentine Pass. The Mill Run, a local newspaper spoke about the two hotels, three saloons, three stores, one shoemaker, two blacksmiths as well as a host of boarding houses as well as restaurants present in the town. During the Colorado Silver Boom, the population shot up to 10,000 but fell sharply post the Silver Bust in 1893. Attempts of revival in 1940 remained unsuccessful. There were five severe fires, leaving the town shattered utterly. At present, it has been experiencing a good time economically because of ski areas nearby that have led to a marked increase in tourism.

Montezuma Colorado Ghost Town

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17. Manhattan, Larimer County

This ghost town, located at the height of 8474 feet, rose to fame when gold was discovered here in 1886. However, the surrounding terrain was challenging when it came to mining, with the quantities of gold produce decreasing rapidly. Hence, the population reduced drastically in the 20th century. When the United States Forest Service gained authority over the land, it was burned down during the 1930s, and what remains is nothing but a cemetery.

Manhattan Colorado Ghost Town

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18. Vicksburg, Chaffee County

Situated in the Clear Creek Canyon, its foundation happened in  1867 by prospectors who came here when their burros had detached from them and went on to wander in the creek. They chanced upon gold in the bed of the creek, which led to the beginning of habitation. Early miners coming here brought trees on their animal’s back and planted it here to line the streets, most of the trees being there at present. A post office, blacksmith, several saloons, two schools, two billiard halls, a livery stable, and an assay office were present here during its period of prosperity.

Vicksburg Ghost Town Colorado

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19. Boston, Summit County

Boston was a seasonal mining camp. It also had a three-story hotel, drugstore, bank, hardware store, five saloons as well as three livery stables. However, after some terrible violence, the people had to live under constant threat. In this way, the population diminished, converting it into a ghost town.

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20. Red Mountain Town, Ouray, San Juan Counties

Located adjacent to the Red Mountain, this was a large mining camp having a population of about 10,000 during its boom. However, after the decline in mining, the town’s population decreased too. The only cities on both sides of the Red Mountain Pass to be populated are Silverton and Ouray.

Red Mountain Ghost Town Colorado

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21. Cabin Creek, Adamas County

Cabin Creek in Colorado remained deserted since the1970s  post a horrendous murder, which reduced the place into a haunted ghost town. James Johnson, its owner at present, had desired to convert it into a flourishing tourist spot. However, he wishes to go off to some other place with his wife, the reason being unknown. It has again been put up for sale of late.

Cabin Creek Most Haunted Ghost Town of Colorado

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22. Independence, Pitkin County

It got its name after the discovery of gold in the vicinity, on the 4th of July, 1879 (Independence Day). Since it is located at an increased elevation, winters were terrible here always. After a massive snowstorm, most of the people shifted from here and went to Aspen that was more flourishing. Being a ghost town since 1912, all that remains are log cabins. Besides gaining recognition as a district of historical importance, it also had its name in the National Register of Historic Places.

Independence Colorado Ghost Town

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23. Eureka, San Juan County

Located between the Animas Forks and Silverton, it got its name from the Greek word “Eureka.” After the discovery of gold, it went on to be a booming establishment. However, after the Sunnyside Mill (replacing the Gold Prince Mill after its deconstruction) closed, the town also declined by 1939, with the Eureka ail being the only reminiscent structure.

Eureka Ghost Town in Colorado

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24. Uravan, Montrose County

Established in 1936 by the Vanadium Corporation, for extracting the vanadium ore, the place had a trading center, school, tennis court, medical facilities, recreation center, and pool. However, after being abandoned in the 1980s, hardly any traces of the buildings remain.

Uravan Colorado Ghost Town

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25. Caribou, Boulder County

A mining town of the past, it got its name from the silver mines of Caribou. A prospector by the name of Congo discovered gold and then silver around 1861. It was formed in 1870 to accommodate the miners from the silver mine. It also had three saloons, a church, a brewery as well as a newspaper of its own named the Caribou Post. The mine had been sold off to the Dutch settlers. However, they did not find it much prosperous since the extraction of the best ores were already done. Mining had now become a thing of the past. The town, too, was on the verge of extinction after the 1879-fire. During the 1920s, less than fifty people dwelt in Caribou, and it gradually turned to be a ghost town.

Caribou Ghost Town in Colorado

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26. Keota, Weld County

Keota, an abandoned town at present, had been developed in 1880 by Eva and Mary Beardsley, the two sisters. It served as a station for the Old Prairie Dog Express. However, after the abandonment of the railroad and removal of the trackage in 1975, Keota gradually became abandoned. A post office that operated for a brief period in 1890 and 1909 was closed in 1974. A school developed in 1888 was shut down in 1951, though the foundation still exists. The water tower in Keota remains at present too, though it is nonfunctional of late.

Keota Colorado Ghost Town

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27. Roggen, Weld County

Another of Colorado’s ghost towns, the main street, is a deserted road running adjacent to the railroad track. Few empty stores, a big abandoned house, and a vacant motel are all that exists there.

Roggen Colorado Ghost Town

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28. Hancock, Chaffee County

It was an ancient mining town situated about 5 miles to the south of St. Elmo. There were saloons, restaurants, train depots, telegraph offices, cabins, shacks, and many stores. Approximately 200 people were living here, most of whom were railroad employees and miners. It closed within a few years post its development, perhaps in 1910, one of the reasons being the high altitude of its location.

Hancock Colorado Ghost Town

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29. Carpenter, Mesa County

William Thomas Carpenter, the owner of Book Cliff mines, had developed the town in 1890 for accommodating his employees. As it began to multiply, Carpenter requested the post office of the United States to develop a branch there. The post office closed shortly, and the population of the town did not exceed 50. Carpenter further went on to establish a company store as well as a boarding house cum restaurant. He had grander plans for the village, desiring to turn it into a tourist spot which would have a hotel, picnic spots, dance pavilion as well as a lake. However, the plans did not materialize as the economic depression of 1493 left him broke. Its next owner was an affluent investor from Massachusetts named Isaac Chauncey Wyman, who took significant initiatives in improving the condition of the mines. The town, mostly called by the name of Book Cliff mines, encountered a steep decline post his demise in 1910. Along with the mines and railroads, it was given away by Wyman to the Princeton University that managed it for 15 years and finally abandoned it in 1925.

Carpenter Ghost Town Colorado

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30. Dunton, Dolores County

A former mining camp, the town of Dunton, developed in 1885, with the population reaching to about 300 people by 1905. However, it did not prosper for long and post a decline in the mining industry, Dunton transformed into a ghost town by 1918.

Dunton Ghost Towns of Colorado

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31. Tarryall, Park County

Located in the north-western part of Park County, the town developed in 1859 during the gold rush in Colorado, post the discovery of gold in the Tarryall Creek. During the time of prosperity, about 7000 residents lived here, though later its population declined, and it gradually turned into a ghost town.

Tarryall Colorado Ghost Town

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32. Alta, San Miguel County

A small ghost town located at the height of 11,800 feet, this was famous for mining activities and had a few hundred people residing here during its time of prosperity. After a fire in 1948, the population fell massively, converting it into a ghost town.

Alta Colorado Ghost Town

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33. Pearl, Jackson County

Located along the border of Wyoming and Colorado, this was a mining town famous for copper. During its prosperity, the city comprised of about 700 inhabitants along with a post office between 1889 and 1919, a hotel that is still present as well as three saloons. Presently the town is situated on the private property having three or four people residing here seasonally.

Pearl Colorado Ghost Town

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The list given above is just a few of the heritage sites of Colorado, most of which remain abandoned at present serving as favorite tourist spots. Some of the other prominent ghost towns of Colorado include Bonanza, Chihuahua, Arapahoe, Calumet, Dakan, Eldora, Mesita, and Waldorf.

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