Ghost Town Museum was created in 1954 to preserve a piece of Colorado’s Wild West heritage.
In 1858 the cry “Pikes Peak or Bust” opened up the heartland of the Colorado territory to the gold prospector. Gold mining became a significant factor that led to the statehood of Colorado. The miners and the people who provided services to them quickly populated the western frontier of the United States. They needed transportation, and before long the twin steel ribbons of the railroads were pushing into the mountains to transport ore for processing.
Towns sprang up overnight and by the 1860’s and 1870’s people had blanketed the west. It was a rough and tumble time. Small encampments became small towns. Small cities along the rocky mountain Front Range provided a central location for supplies and services. The search for gold drove prospectors to every mountain valley, and every mountain peak. If gold or silver were not located, or if the mines played out, the towns were often abandoned to become ghost towns.
Little by little the raw spirit of the frontier died down. By the time gold was discovered in Cripple Creek in 1891, the “frontier” was almost gone. Today almost nothing remains of those exciting days of the old west. A scattered pile of old lumber, a tumbled pile of rocks marking an old mine, an occasional wagon wheel or a piece of equipment. The rip roaring camps of 100 years ago have become ghost towns now only a memory of a bygone era.
The Term "Ghost Town" is somewhat of a misnomer though as many of these towns are still inhabited either seasonally or year round. Many or parts of them, remain as they were 100 years ago or more. Whether complete "Ghosts" restored, or inhabited, they all retain their deep rooted origins in Colorado mining and railroad history
Ghost Town Museum evolved from a desire to preserve a piece of this era. An impressive collection of everyday artifacts displayed in each of the town’s buildings, which are themselves a collection of the very structures left to decay around the pikes peak region; all looking much as they would have been left 100 or more years ago. All of it is housed inside a historic stone structure, built in 1899. The main museum building was originally, built for the Colorado Midland railroad to serve as a maintenance building for the steam locomotives that hauled gold ore from the mining districts to the Golden cycle mill located right across 21st Street from the museum. The Roundhouse is next door to Ghost Town Museum. These buildings are all that remain of the operations of the Golden Cycle company which closed the facilities in 1949.
Ghost Town Museum serves as a permanent example of what the wild west towns of 100 years ago might have been like. It has been done in a way that is enjoyable for young and old alike. There are many hands-on activities for the kids. Crank a butter churn, operate an old time arcade or nickelodeon. See a short film on the gold mining era or pan for real gold in the extensive panning areas, (seasonal). Shop for Colorado gifts, have a picnic, or sip an old time sarsaparilla.
Ghost Town Museum serves as a preserved example and focal point to start or end a ghost town tour here, or if your vehicle or legs are not up to the challenge, simply enjoy the easy access, location and parking of Ghost Town Museum. We're even handicap friendly, thanks for visiting and gaining a piece of Colorado history.