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Due to private ownership, St. Elmo, in the Sawatch Mountains 20 miles to the southwest of Buena Vista, is the best preserved ghost town in the area. In fact, if there are actual ghosts, they share the space with living inhabitants. People have been in St. Elmo since its founding in 1880. Being guarded watchfully over the years, the town has escaped its parts being carried off for other uses.
Reaching its peak in the 1890's, St. Elmo thrived because of its proximity to the prosperous Mary Murphy Mine and others from which poured gold, silver, lead, and zinc. When the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad ceased operations in the area in 1922, the Mary Murphy, the last mine still in operation, was abandoned and the town went into decline.
Today, visitors can trade at the store, hike, Jeep, ATV, or fish. You can also feed the multitude of chipmunks that will climb on your lap for seeds and enjoy the many hummingbirds that flock to feeders in front of the mercantile. Though a few of the buildings are open to the public, be sure to obey any No Trespassing signs.
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