High in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado one can often find remains of old mining sites. In the final decade of the 19th century gold fever swept over this part of the nation and changed “life in the west” forever. Almost overnight unknown mountain hamlets grew into bustling towns and cities, often at altitudes considered unsurvivable by city folk! The gold rush struck hard, it struck fast and led to an unimaginable influx of investor dollars. In places previously only known to mountaineers and adventurers, one could find classic, roughshod Western towns complete with hotels, bars, brothels, banks, city halls, dance halls, fire stations, and churches. By the 1940s almost all the mines were no longer profitable and suddenly all those bustling mountain communities were abandoned. Ghost towns dot the Rockies even today. One such town is Victor, in Teller County, about an hour from Colorado Springs. While it isn’t an abandoned town, it still has all the markings of a classic turn of the century mining town. You can even see the bullet holes in the walls of town hall, a reminder of the intensity with which labor disputes erupted between mine workers and mine owners.
In the hills above victor there are numerous abandoned mine sites and they make for fascinating photography. The heavy machinery sits there in the harsh elements, not having turned a gear or hauled a cable in close to a century… and yet it looks as if it could be fired up tomorrow with a little grease and fresh fuel. The buildings, on the other hand, have taken a heavier toll. And yet many of them still stand there, giving ghostly reminders a time gone by. I find it amazing that anything remains, considering the harshness of the elements. Even with my warmest gear, I wouldn’t survive more than a few hours in those locations. To think that people were not only working, but building homes and raising families in those locations more than a century ago is mind boggling at best.
The American Eagles Scenic Overloook is located at an altitude of 10,750 feet and has spectacular bird’s eye views of the surrounding country. There is absolutely no protection from the wind, the snow and the cold and yet you can walk thru the remains of offices, a blacksmith shop and even the superintendent’s house! The wooden buildings are in significant stages of decay, but the heavy machinery right next to them sits bold and strong, as if to say, “pfff…. what’s a century or two!”