Tag Archives: mining towns

Alta, Colorado (Ghost Town)

Alta Ghost Town
Alta (near Telluride), Colorado
Elevation: ca. 11,800 ft.
The remnants of this ghost town still remain, some as little as heaps of wood, others as frames, and some as full structures. Alta was a small mining town between Telluride and Rico housing a population of a few hundred. Gold was discovered here first in 1878 by Jack Mann, then population trends alternated up through World War II. An aerial tramway moved the ore to the mill below. This was the first mine to use AC current. The Mill burnt down in 1948. Some famous residents were George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, and others who made the town what it became. Through the years, the remnants of the town were vandalized after the last residents left and most of what remains has been destroyed. The land has been purchased by a developer who plans to pave the route up to it selling lots in and around Alta Lakes further up the road. Visited on 5/31/09.

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Telluride, Colorado

Telluride, Colorado
Telluride is a great little mountainous ski-resort village that was once a mining town. Population of 2,221 in 2000. Telluride was a former silver mining camp on the san Miguel River in the San Juan Mountains nestled in a box canyon of the Four Corners region of Colorado with steep forested mountains and cliffs surrounding the town. Elevation 8,750 feet. At the head of the canyon is the amazing Bridal Veil Falls and speckled all along the valley are numerous weathered ruins of old mines and operations. Telluride offers a free gondola that you can take up to the mountain-tops for a great panoramic view of the valley. Telluride is notoriously known for its pop culture as it has been the backdrop for several tv commercials, home to an international film festival, and referred to in songs by Glenn Frey, Kate Wolf, Tim McGraw, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Josh Gracin, and in an essay by Edward Abbey. Hotspot of activity for skiiers and hikers, it’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Only one road reaches the town year round with two off-road routes for mid summer. Gold was first discovered in the region in 1858. The first claim was made by John Fallon in the Marshal Basin above Telluride. This sparked settling the area in 1878 with the formation of the town. Originally called “Columbia” but later changed to Telluride after one of the minerals found in the area called Tellurium. Telluride’s mines are rich in zinc, lead, copper, silver, and gold. Butch Cassidy hung out here in 1889 and robbed the San Miguel Valley Bank that year making history as his first major recorded crime. Local residents and common visitors have included John Denver, Bob Dylan, Daryl Hannah, Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise. I found the town extremely charming and in some quarters rustic, even though it had its touristy yuppie overwhelming flair. Definitely one of my favorite towns in Colorado. A must visit.

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