Sunday, January 24, 2010

Independence: Ghost Town

Ghost towns and mining ruins are everywhere in Colorado. You see them from the highways, you trip over them on the trails, and you read about them in the newspapers.

Independence is one of the better known ghost towns. It is located 15.5 miles from Aspen and 44 miles from Leadville atop Independence Pass (12,095 ft) and so is visited by many of the travelers on Highway 82.

Independence was founded in 1879 when Leadville miner Billy Belden struck gold in the summer of that year. Called by many names during its short lifetime (Belden, Chipeta, Sidney, Farewell, Mammoth City, Sparkhill, Mount Hope, and Farwell) most modern types know the town by its current name of Independence.

There is a small guided trail through the ruins today and the cabins are being slowly restored by the Aspen Historical Society. Even in spring, the pass can be cold and snowy as the pictures in this post attest (they were taken in May 2005). The peaks surrounding the ruins have been eroded by the winds into smooth edifices that stand witness to the transitory nature of human endeavors.

Before the railroad reached Aspen, Independence Pass was the primary route between Leadville and Aspen. Independence became a transportation hub as well as a mining camp. The gold did not last long, however and by 1912 the town was dead.

A restored cabin

If you are every driving on Highway 82, don't blow by Independence. Take a half and hour and walk around. Try to imagine living in a cabin at 12,000 ft in the middle of winter. Your SUV's heated seats and ipod connector will be appreciated that much more!

1 comment:

Josh Hunter said...

Great Place! Nice write up!