The Colorado mountains in the mid-late 1800’s to early 1900’s were full of thriving towns built as a result of mining booms. Many of the 1500 former mining towns were abandoned shortly after the mining in the area was completed leaving their rickety old buildings to form what we call today, ghost towns.
There are ~600 ghost towns in some shape or form in Colorado today. During winter, the snow cuts many of these towns off, so during the summer, plan a road trip to visit these four Colorado ghost towns.
Carson was a gold and silver haven in the 1890’s but never had a massive influx of miners. It wasn’t for the faint hearted, perched 12,000 feet above sea level making it near impossible to survive in the winter. At it’s peak there were 400-500 miners in Carson, eventually all leaving when the winters became unbearable in the early 1900’s.
How to get there: You can access Carson by 4WD from the north or via the walking/horse riding trail from the south.
Ashcroft, formerly known as Castle Forks City then Chloride has had a volatile history. Founded in 1880 the development was fast with an impressive amount of silver per ounce being mined helping create a town population of 3,500 people by 1885. That quickly changed when the deposits were found to be shallow and by the time the new century came around only a handful of residents were left. With the last official resident passing away in 1939, Ashcroft became a ghost town and thanks to the preservation of a few, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
How to get there: Easily accessed via Castle Creek Road, 10 miles south of Aspen, Colorado.
Named Dearfield as the land was dear to the hearts of the original setllers, the town was originally planned to be an African American colony when Oliver T. Jackson founded the town in 1910. Rather than mining towns above, this town was based on agricultrual and despite a tough time with the weather, they built up to a population of 700 by 1921.
The Great Depression was brutal to Dearfield though and just 12 people lived there in 1940 despite Jack attempted to regenerate interest in the town before passing away in 1948. The only significant building left is the town cafe located on Highway 34 to Fort Morgan before the sign for Masters.
The gold and silver mining town of Nevadaville was booming in the 1870’s with a steady population (mostly Irish) until the gold and silver ran out around the turn of the century. Today, there are still a few residents (technically making it a semi-ghost town) who don’t mind sharing the history of the place but aren’t always willing to chat hours on end. Located at 9,000 feet above sea level and its proximity to Central City make it an easy town to visit where you can find a handful of old grave sites and a few of the buildings well over a century old.
How to get there: It’s easily accessed given it’s one mile from Central City, Colorado.
When you visit the ghost towns, take nothing but photographs and be aware of your surroundings. Some of the buildings will be dangerous, others owned by people or they might be protected by a society (local or State).