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Chaffee County offers some of the richest history in early western development. We're going to take a trip back in time to some of Colorado's famous and not so famous ghost towns. Access to these towns is sometimes made by passenger vehicle. Others will require 4-wheel drive.
Private Property & Responsible Recreation: Most ghost town areas are on Private Property. Venturing off of public roads and lands onto private land is trespassing. The surrounding mountains have miles of underground tunnels and shafts. The area is dangerous and a once safe and stable area can suddenly collapse. The buildings also are in various state of decay and are also unsafe. Obey any posted signs, travel & recreate responsibly, and always tread lightly.
Vicksburg was platted in 1881. The gold and silver booms of the late 1800's brought hopeful prospectors into the area. Cabins began to spring up, and Vicksburg became a town. The Swiss Boy mine became a major producer for this area.
Winfield, at one time, bragged 1,500 residents, probably the result of the Tasmanian Mine. But by 1893, just 3 years after its peak, the silver crash caused it to become nearly deserted. The town finally died after a short revival in the early 1900's when the last ore was shipped out after World War I.
Every town had its "Boot Hill". Here at the Iron City Cemetery, there is a roster of those who lie buried here, from the 1800's all the way up into the early 1900's. Cause of death is even listed, ranging from diptheria, several mining accidents, consumption, and even a murder.
A beautiful trip with spectacular views can be accomplished up Chalk Cliff towards the towns of Alpine and St. Elmo. If you look closely along the cliffs and you're lucky, you might spot some Rocky Mountain big horn sheep, antelope and mule deer.
In December of 1880, the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad finally reached St. Elmo from Buena Vista. Today, St. Elmo offers tours throughout the town, which is presently under historical restoration. You'll find St. Elmo commercialized a bit, but still one of the most popular attractions in the area. NOTE: St. Elmo & much of the surrounding area is on Private Property.
What was left of the town of Romley was leveled several years ago from this general location. However, it once was a key hub in the Mary Murphy Mine operation. The town had roughly 200 residents living in and around the area, however the town quickly died in 1926 when the railroad closed down and the rails were removed. NOTE: Romley & much of the surrounding area is on Private Property.
The trip up to the main Mary Murphy Mine site is strictly 4-wheel drive. NOTE: The Mary Murphy Mine & much of the surrounding area is on Private Property.
The Mary Murphy Mine remains one of the more intriguing historical sites in this region, particularly since it has not had the benefit of restoration efforts. But, enough remains to give us a look into the past and imagine how these hearty souls in the 1880's must have lived.
Several theories exist about the naming of the Mary Murphy Mine, but perhaps the one which best fosters our imagination is the report that an old Irish prospector, hospitalized in Denver in the 1870's, became somewhat close to a nurse named Mary Murphy. He may have had a premonition that he would strike it rich, but the story goes that if he did, he'dname the mine after her. The rest, as they say, is history.
A precariously balanced structure looms over the road on the way up to Hancock
What remains of Hancock is the result of extreme weather conditions and "Father Time". In its hey day, Hancock boasted 5 stores, hotels, many saloons and restaurants, 2 saw mills, and a population of almost 200 full time residents. Miners earned $2.50 per day working in the surrounding mines.