Mountains, Missions, and Mining Camps

Along the Colorado-New Mexico Border : July 2005

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Mission View
Located along I-10 west of Albuquerque, Laguna pueblo is believed to have been founded around 1300AD by descendants of the Anasazi. The mission church of San Jose was built in 1699 and restored in the 1930s.

Silence is Golden
The discovery of gold nuggets in the 1830s led to a small mining rush beyond the Sandia Mountains. The gold fields were rediscovered and reworked in the 1870s and 1880s, leading to the founding of the town of Golden. Little remains today except the restored San Francisco church which dates to the earlier Spanish period.

Lito's Ballroom
Founded in the 1840s, Tierra Amarilla thrived for a while as a ranching and farming center. Largely abandoned today, there are still numerous reminders of a more lively past.

This abandoned gas station on the edge of town is another reminder of Tierra Amarilla's decline. In 1967, local activists took over the county courthouse and staged a short-lived rebellion in a bid to reclaim a local Spanish land grant promised to their ancestors in the early 1800s.

Ghost of San Isadore
The old San Isadore Church in the small Colorado farming hamlet of Las Mesitas was gutted by fire in the 1970s, but still carries a certain solemn grace with its backdrop of clouds and mountains.

Stairway to Heaven
Evidentially a stairway once stood against the back wall of the church (perhaps a choir loft?) and only the portion of the walls above the stairs was painted.

Last Rays over the Chalk Cliffs
A few final rays from the setting sun manage to break through the growing storm clouds over the Chalk Cliffs of central Colorado.

School's Out
An old rural school house near Buenva Vista, Colorado is silhouetted against a storm growing over Mount Princeton.

Busy Day in Saint Elmo
The mining camp of Saint Elmo grew quickly following the discovery of numerous local gold mines in the late 1870s. By the early 1900s the boom was over. However a few residents stayed on over the years to watch over the old buildings, making it one of Colorado's best preserved 'ghost towns'.

Closed for Business
The famous old Stark Brothers store remained in operation serving back road travelers until the 1950s - well after the rest of Saint Elmo had been largely abandoned.

The Serenity of a Clear Blue Mountain Lake
It is a four mile hike above timberline and snowfields to the alpine setting of Ptarmigan Lake in the Sawatch Range of central Colorado. Didn't see any ptarmigans... just packs of vicious blood-thirsty marmots.

Red Mountain Blues
The Red Mountain mining district between Ouray and Silverton was one of the richest mineral districts in the world and home to numerous now abandoned mines and ghost towns. These company homes near Red Pass once housed employees of the nearby Idarado mine.

Red Mountain Blues No 2
Looking from one of the abandoned company homes toward Red Mountain Peak Number 3.

Mountain Mansion
The home of mine owner William Duncan is one of several impressive and well-preserved buildings in the completely abandoned ghost town of Animas Forks near Silverton, Colorado.

This View of Mine
The large bay window of the Duncan mansion provides a great view of the mine ruins across the gulch and the surrounding mountains.

Jail Broke
The make the walls more sturdy, the boards of the Aminas Fork jail were laid flat (which reminds me of one of those little model buildings people make out of old popsicle sticks). What a pretty place to pay your debt to society.

Old Toadlena Trading Post, New Mexico
Merit and Bob Smith founded the Toadlena trading post along the Arizona-New Mexico border in the early 1900s. The post flourished when a Navajo Reservation school and associated administration offices was opened near by.

Trading Post Walls
The Toadlena trading post is one of the few whose interior still maintains the feel of the original store and continues to sell the works of local Navajo weavers. The area is associated with the 'Two Grey Hills' style of blankets which are famous for their high-quality and tightly-woven brown diamond pattern.