Sunday, June 24, 2012

6-22-12 Ashcroft Ghost Town

After breakfast, the four of us left the dogs with Mom and Dad and went to check out the nearby ghost town of Ashcroft which is just 17 miles from our camp.

 Colorado 1880, Crazy Culver set out with his friend W.F. Coxhead from Leadville to make their fortune finding a new silver stake in the pristine Castle Creek valley.  23 more prospectors soon joined them in the place they named Castle Forks City and shortly after there were 97 men who formed the Miner's Protective Association. In 1883 the camp had been renamed Ashcroft and boasted a population of 2000, two newspapers, a school, a sawmill, and 20 saloons.

But two years later, the shallow vein of silver had dried up, the prospectors moved on to Aspen strikes, and only 100 people remained. Fifteen years after that, just a handful of men still lived there, spending their days hunting, fishing, reading and drinking at the lone bar. The bar owner often traded drinks for stories and was the main place to find the sporadic work that might be available in the area. The last original resident Judge Jack Leahy died in 1939.

Ashcroft had a chance at revival in 1939 when Ted Ryan and Billy Fiske, of the gold medal winter Olympic bobsled team built a lodge nearby and planned a resort with tramway up to Mount Hayden. But World War II intervened and Fiske was killed in action. Ryan leased the property to the 10th Mountain Army division to train, and then deeded the site to the Forest Service after the war.


We got back to camp for lunch and a nap before the world caved in, which brings you back to this story.


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