Animas Fork – Colorado Ghost Town of the Month

Animas Fork Animas Forks is located 12 miles northeast of Silverton, Colorado and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It is on a 65 mile loop of roads known as the  Alpine Loop. Over 100,000 people visit this loop each year. The towns first log cabin was built in 1873.  In 1875 silver was first discovered and by 1876 a bustling  mining community had formed.  During that time there was a hotel, 30 cabins, saloon, general store, and a post office. It took over seven years for the population to  grow to 400 people. The winters were harsh in Animas Fork so the government offered free lots of land and assistance for building homes for any settler willing to brave the weather.  An  example the harsh conditions was in 1884 when a 23-day blizzard covered the town with 25 feet of snow!  The residents had to dig tunnels to get from building to  building.   The town mined year round but the conditions proved to be too much for the majority of the town.  In 1884, the winter population dwindled from 400  residents to 12 men, three women, and 20 dogs. When mining profits began to decline investment in the town was no longer justified. It did make a rebound in 1904 with the construction of the Gold Prince Mill.  There was hope that having a rail line run through the town would pull it out of its decline but sadly this was not the case. The Gold Prince Mill closed in 1910.   In 1917, the mill was dismantled and reused at a new facility in Eureka.  The end of Animas Fork was inevitable. It was declared a ghost town by the 1920’s. Today Animas Fork is a tourist attraction with 12 houses remaining along with the Columbus Mill and the old jail structure.  The foundation of the Gold Prince Mill can be seen at the southern entrance of town.   The remaining structures were stabilized in 1997 and is managed by the San Juan County and Bureau of Land Management.   References: The Ouray Chamber Resort Association,_Colorado