I lived in this neck of the woods off and on in the 1990’s. I’d never been here until just recently.
I have spoken of my sobriety in earlier posts. A big part of being sober to me is service work, helping others……. That is what brought me to this place. Helping another in recovery and trying to make a living amends for my past wrongdoings. This was just a little bonus, and a nice distraction for the person I was helping in their sobriety!
In the years I have lived in Colorado I’ve always had an infatuation with mining towns and how tough and hardy people were back in the late 1800’s when the rich ore was discovered and these towns were built.
On the banks of Chalk Creek in the heart of the Sawatch mountain range sits the ghost town of St. Elmo. It’s just up the road from Mt. Princeton Hot Springs (an awesome spot even though the masses from Denver have now OVER RUN it) and about 20 miles from Buena Vista in Chaffee County, Colorado.
One of Colorado’s best preserved ghost towns and also listed on the National Register of Historic Places is this little known step back into time. Sitting at an elevation of nearly 10,000 ft. around 2000 people called this home after gold and silver were discovered in 1880.
Originally named Forest City, but later changed to St. Elmo by a man named Griffin Evans who was reading a novel with the same title.
Although still inhabited today town was at it’s heyday during the 1890’s when it had a school house, churches, hotels, numerous saloons and brothels to service the miners and their families. There were over 150 mines in the area, but The Mary Murphy Mine was the most profitable. Recovering over $60,000,000 worth of gold while it was in operation.
During the 1920’s mining declined and so did the population. The train stopped running in the 1930’s and the remaining diehard residents left on the last train out, and never went back. A few people continued to live in St. Elmo but mail service was finally discontinued in the 1950’s when the postmaster died.
Today St Elmo is considered a tourist town and a few hardy souls still reside in town to provide services to the gapers (local slang for tourists), fishermen, ATV and off road crowd. What is now left is an eerie reminder of what St. Elmo once was.
If you’re ever in the area come pay homage to the ghosts of St. Elmo while you wander the empty streets…… It’s worth seeing!