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Boom and Bust: The Authentic Old West Ghost Towns Of Colorado

September 28, 2013 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

Colorado is home to 150 recorded town sites and many more abandoned or ghost towns with storied pasts.

Below is a sampling of Colorado’s best-preserved and most accessible ghost towns for modern-day visitors to take a peek at the Old West. For more information, visit

Animas Forks. Some 400 to 1,000 people called Animas Forks home, but harsh conditions meant residents didn’t stay long. Visit Animas Forks in the summer via a four-wheel drive vehicle or ATV.

Ashcroft. The discovery of silver in 1880 launched Ashcroft to its peak as a bustling mining camp before going bust in 1885. More than 12 buildings remain, including the jail, hotel and several saloons.

Boggsville. Thomas O. Boggs founded Boggsville in 1862 in southeast Colorado, but the population never grew past a few dozen. The 19thcentury settlement offers free admission and customized tours.

Carson and Old Carson. At nearly 12,000 feet, harsh winters were unpopular with miners. Access Carson from Wager Gulch Trail on the east side of the Continental Divide, then head west to Old Carson.

Dearfield. The only all-black settlement didn’t survive the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, though three buildings remain today: a gas station, diner and the founder’s house.

Independence. Independence formed after gold was discovered at the head of Roaring Fork River. The Aspen Historical Society offers tours of the town that miners abandoned on skis made from the log cabins.

Montezuma. Situated above Keystone Resort, Montezuma was founded in 1865 after the discovery of silver. Visitors will find a general store, schoolhouse and private homes still standing today.

Pitkin. Near the Gunnison/Crested Butte area is one of the largest collections of remaining ghost town buildings in Colorado. Travelers will discover a community church, store and several private homes.

St. Elmo and Tin Cup. One of Colorado’s best-preserved – and most accessible – ghost towns is St. Elmo. Visitors can also visit nearby Tin Cup, where tales of this rowdy town linger in the town cemetery.

Teller City. Within just 20 years, the silver-mining camp boomed with hundreds of log cabins and almost 30 saloons that were later deserted entirely.

Tomboy. Accessible during the summer months, visitors will pass through the “Social Tunnel,” where single women and Tomboy Mine men met each other for “social” time.

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