By Kristy McCaffrey
|Animas Forks circa 1878.|
Animas Forks is a mining ghost town is southwestern Colorado, nestled in the San Juan Mountains 12 miles northeast of Silverton. It sits at an elevation of 11,200 feet, at the junction of three forks of the Animas River.
Established in 1873, it became a booming community by 1876 with approximately 30 cabins, a hotel, a saloon, a general store, assay offices, a boarding house, and a post office. The town’s growth was fueled by the mining of galena and silver-bearing gray copper, along with speculation and processing mills.
While most residents moved to Silverton for the winter, a few hardy residents remained year-round, including several wives and their children. Many homes had connected outhouses, with a covered hallway leading from the home to the privy. In 1884, a 23-day blizzard overwhelmed the town with 25 feet of snow. The residents had to dig tunnels to get from building to building. The town also became isolated at times when avalanches in the passes would cut off supply routes. The narrow canyon produced avalanches that slid down one side and up the other.
|An indoor outhouse.|
By 1891, the town had begun to decline. Today, it’s located on a popular driving route called the Alpine Loop. Four-wheel drive is recommended, although you can get as far as Animas Forks with a two-wheel drive vehicle. Many of the buildings have been restored and are open to the public.
Animas Forks is one of the most visited ghost towns in Colorado.
|Animas Forks today.|
|The Duncan home. William Duncan came from Pennsylvania|
and built this Victorian-style house for his wife and
Don't miss my short story, A Westward Adventure, now available as a single sell for only 99 cents. The story is set in a fictional town in the San Juan Mountains.
Aspiring novelist Amelia Mercer travels from New York City to Colorado to aid an injured aunt. When the stage is robbed and her luggage stolen, bounty hunter Ned Waymire comes to her aid, acquainted with the harmless culprit and wanting to spare the boy. But Ned also seeks to impress the independent young woman. Amelia's wish to never marry, however, clashes with Ned's desire to keep her reputation intact. When a final bounty from Ned's past threatens their future, she knows that A Westward Adventure isn’t just the title of her novel but the new course of her life.