Ghost towns have fascinated modern man since people first gathered their lives into traveling trunks or saddle bags, crawled onto horses or into covered wagons, and abandoned settlements to chase other dreams or to give up on the dreams that enticed them there in the beginning.
As I walk through such haunted places, I can’t help but ask the allusive questions. Why did they come here? Why did they leave? Or more importantly, do their spirits still remain?
As I mentioned in an earlier post, after the death of our grandson, my husband and I made the impromptu decision to sell our home and most of our possessions, play pioneer, and live the life of full-time RVers. We bought a rig—too big a rig but who knew. I mean we are planning to live in it for several years and it is comfortable, but we can’t get it off the beaten path so to speak like we could our teardrop trailer.
We took our daughter and granddaughter on our first big adventure in July. We used Ridgway State Park in Ouray County—the westernmost state park in Colorado—as our base camp. It’s twenty-one miles southeast of Montrose and is close to such historic towns as Ouray and Telluride.
On one of our day outings we traveled to Telluride in search of the Alta Lakes campground as a possible future camp site. We found the roads to be too narrow and rough for our Seneca, but the excursion was not wasted. We discovered the ghost town of Alta.
In 1877, this now deserted area boasted the title of Alta-Gold King until the late 1940s. It was considered the center of mining activity. The picturesque ghost town is perched at an altitude of 11,800 feet among towering pines and ragged peaked mountain. Its south of Telluride and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I’m advised by avid ghost town hunters not to divulge too much about the location in an effort to preserve this piece of our past. They argue authentic hunters will do the needed research to locate Ghost Towns.
(Pssst you won’t see a sign saying—”ghost town this way”—on the road to the Alta Township.)
During its gold rush glory, it was home to a mere 100 people. Cabins, a boarding house, and outhouse buildings remain among the wildflowers and native grasses that sing in the wind of past dreams and forgotten pioneers, and whisper the names of its people and its ghosts.
Famous American author, Mark Twain, started out as a miner and it was his experience as a gold digger (in the literal sense) that he used for some of his famous short stories, like Roughing It. He described ghost towns as “dashes hopes and disappointments.”
But that was back in Twain’s day. As most things do, ghost towns evolved and instead of being regarded as failures, an aura of romanticism enshrouded the Wild West in a rich history of heroic and pioneering accomplishments. Instead of dead ends, ghost towns became gateways from our past to our future.
The term “ghost town” didn’t become a popular descriptor until the early twentieth century. Up until then, these abandoned settlements were referred to as a “ghost of a city” and eventually shortened to “ghost city.”
Freelance writer, Clint Thomsen, in his book Ghost Towns: Lost Cities of the Old West, defines a ghost town as:
…any established settlement that has been fully or significantly abandoned, of which at least some tangible remains exist.”
Thomsen goes on to make a further distinction between ghost towns categorizing them as Living Ghosts or True Ghosts. Living Ghosts are home to a small population of people who have embraced the label of Ghost Town and used it for commercialism and survival. True Ghosts emanate abandonment in its purest form.
A True Ghost
Alta is a True Ghost and possesses a bit of fascinating history—the historic plaque at the site reads:
L.L. Nunn, Nicola Tesla, and George Westinghouse worked at this site with the first industrial use of alternating current electricity. A long distance electric transmission line was completed from the Ames power plant on the San Miguel River below June 21st 1891
(ProbeNote: I believe the spelling of Tesla’s first name on the plaque is incorrect.)
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)—an inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist—is best known for his role in the advancement to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system, also known as our household power.
To Answer My Own Question
Do their spirits still remain? Yes, I believe so. I base my conclusion on two observations.
First—Nikola Tesla’s quote: If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.
As noted, Tesla had more understanding about energy than the average person.
And if we are honest, aren’t secrets what we are searching for when we visit a Ghost Town? I have for a long time believed that our physical body dies, but our energy remains. Tesla’s quote strengthens this theory.
Second observation—My grand daughter’s immediate reaction to Alta. She hates driving on winding roads because she gets car sick. She was a little green when Alta loomed before us. Then her entire demure changed. The blush returned to her cheeks. She smiled so big I thought her cheeks would burst and jumped out of the jeep before her grandpa could bring the vehicle to a complete stop.
“I love this,” she said. “I want to live here.”
The pictures I took of her show her dreamy eyed and trapped in the fourth dimension of time—past, present, and future. She appears to be connecting with an unseen energy who loves that she has found him.
Other Quotes by Tesla
The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”” The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.”
I found quite fascinating a PBS news article about Tesla titled, 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Nikola Tesla.
Here are a few.
- He was born during a lightning storm.
- He developed the idea for smartphone technology in 1901.
- He and Thomas Edison were rivals.
- He shook the poop out of Mark Twain.
Sounds like a guy who might not be content to move on when his body does.
I don’t want my blog to turn in to a travel blog, but there are some things I want to share from my travels, and a few of my reader have asked that I let them know great places in Colorado to venture to. I hope you find these blogs informative. My last blog, with a travel theme, was a year ago and introduced Lake Agnes—an excellent place to hide in case of a Zombie Apocalypse.
My rating Scale 1 to 5. Five being AWESOME.
- Ridgway State Park 5 Stars
- Area (fun things to do and explore) 5 Stars
- Creepy 5 Stars
- Interesting 5 Stars
- Zombie get away 3 Stars
The Probe’s Mission Statement
The Probe is a blog devoted to the exploration of the unexplainable, to finding the truth in occurrences that resemble science fiction, and to researching and reporting on topics that could be flung upon the wall of weird. New posts are featured as often as I can find WiFi, and as often as I have something I think you might find interesting.
Join me here for more close encounters of the alien kind, or ghost kind, or animal kind, or travel kind, and please share your own. Science Fiction or Fact? Doesn’t matter to me. I just like a story that gives me the chills, makes me laugh, makes me think, or makes me imagine.