I got a little behind in posting the last few weeks thanks to work, but have finally been able to get everything caught up in time to bring you part 3 of America’s Ghost Towns. Since there are a ridiculous number of abandoned towns in the U.S.A, there will still be a number of posts on the subject as I cover the country state by state, but for now we’ll continue on with California and Colorado.
Once dubbed “The Town Too Dry To Die”, Ludlow California sprang up alongside the Santa Fe Railroad in 1882, and began to thrive once gold ore was found at the Bagdad-Chase mine a few miles away. Since the town literally had no water, the only way production could continue at the mine was to haul both water and ore to and from the mine. Once this problem was solved with the completion of the Tonopah-Tidewater railroad, the mining camp began to attract more men, and a small town sprang up in the desert complete with schoolhouse, hotels, and a bath house of course. Although the town would survive WWI with only a few misfortunes to speak of, by the time the Great Depression rolled around in the 1930’s, Ludlow was beginning to wane, and the Tonopah-Tidewater railway would lose miles of track to a disastrous flood. When a termination of operations was grated for the company running the mine in 1940, only a handful of residents would remain and ride out WWII. By the 1960’s, two highways, and a well would allow the town of Ludlow to sustain its few remaining residents, and accommodate any tourists passing through the area. Today the old mining town is still wasting away along Route 66, just a stones throw away from what remains of modern-day Ludlow.
Salton Riviera, California
Located in Salton City, this once ideal resort development on the Salton Sea was a huge success when it opened in the late 1950’s. Originally created to be a large community full of schools, neighborhoods and churches alongside a championship golf course, yacht club, and world-class hotel, Salton Riviera failed to attract the residents it desired. Although plenty of people were willing to invest money in the development and celebrities and politicians were constantly being seen around the resort, the community would collapse by the end of the 1970’s, a mere twenty years after it opened. During the 1980’s and 1990’s the salinity and pollution levels in the Salton Sea increased, causing a large decrease in tourism to the area, and ruin to the remaining buildings at Salton Riviera. Today there isn’t much left besides a terrible smell the remnants of a once thriving place. Be sure to check out nearby Bombay Beach while you’re in the area as well.
**Salton riviera is located on private property**
Animas Forks, Colorado
This small mining settlement is located at the crossroads of three rivers in the San Juan Mountains about 12 miles Northeast of Silverton. The first cabins of Animas Forks were built by prospectors in 1873, and by 1876 there was a bustling community of miners and their families, along with a post office, hotel, saloon, and general store. Animas Forks continued to grow steadily thanks to the mine nearby until about 1910 when activity at the mine stopped, and the once thriving mining town was deserted. Today if you want to visit Animas Forks, it’s recommended that you go in a vehicle with four-wheel drive since the roads are unpaved, and the town is a bit of a drive from the nearest inhabited town nearby.
Founded in 1880 when miners from local Leadville found silver ore in the Castle Creek Valley, Ashcroft started out as a small mining camp called Castle Forks City. The first group of prospectors to call the camp home set up a Miner’s Protection Association, built a court-house, and had streets mapped out two weeks later. When word about the silver began to spread, the small camp began to grow at a rapid pace, and was soon home to a new name – Ashcroft – and 2,000 people. Because of its size, the new mining town would grow to house 2 newspapers, a few sawmills, schools, and at least 20 saloons. Ironically enough, the town met its end in about the same manner it began. When the silver mines proved to be shallow by 1885 there were only 100 people left, and by the turn of the century the town would be a ghost town. Today there are 9 buildings left standing in Ashcroft, and can be visited from mid June to September.
Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado
The original Dunton Springs was built in 1885 as a mining town. Although there’s not a lot of information floating around the internet about what caused the town to collapse, it’s probably safe to assume the mine ran out of raw materials and the people left… The reason this revived ghost town made it onto my bucket list is because the original buildings were painstakingly restored, and have been transformed into a resort. If you’re looking for somewhere unique to spend the weekend, why not fork over heaps of money to sleep like a modern age miner in a little slice of heaven on earth…. but you know… with modern conveniences, delicious food, and heated cabins to go along with the gorgeous views.
St. Elmo, Colorado
Named after a romantic 19th century novel, St. Elmo sprang up 1878 under the name of Forest City. As the population of the town grew right along with the increase in gold and silver ore findings in the area, a post office was established a few years later and the name was officially changed over to St. Elmo. What really put this small mining town on the map however, was becoming a station on not one but 3 different railways. Soon the town was booming with close to 2,000 citizens, two restaurants, several merchandise stores, two saw mills, and a newspaper. Like most mining towns, the beginning of the end of St. Elmo started with the failure of the local mines in 1910. Although mining continued in the area until the 1920’s, St. Elmo met its demise when the railroad stopped running in 1922, and literally pulled up the tracks in 1926. Today there’s not much left of St. Elmo thanks to a fire back in 2002, but the town is open for tours, and donations are appreciated to help restore the remaining buildings.