The St. Elmo Ghost Town historic district is located about 20 miles southwest of Buena Vista. The town was founded in 1880 as Forest city and later changed to St. Elmo. It’s one of Colorado best preserved ghost towns. The town was at its peak by the 1890s with 5 hotels, saloons, dance halls, newspaper offices, telegraph office, post office and had a population of almost 2000. The Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad ran through St. Elmo. Then the Railroad continued on to Romilly, Hancock and through the historic Alpine Tunnel at 11523 feet above sea level. Then down to Pitkin and on to Gunnison. There were some 150 mining claims for gold and silver in the area. The biggest being the Mary Murphy mine which recovered over 60 million dollars in gold. The Mary Murphy mine stayed in operation until 1922 when the railroad was abandoned. After that the town drastically declined and Postal Service was discontinued in 1952 with the death of its postmaster. Today tourism brings many people to St. Elmo every year. The general stores is open during the summer. At the store you can find souvenirs, T-shirts, snacks, antiques and you can even rent a rustic cabin or ATVs . There are many old mining roads around St. Elmo to explore with Jeeps or ATVs and for the fishermen there is the solitude of chalk Creek. Across the street from the general store is a small lumber pile that people have been feeding the chipmunks, squirrels and birds for many years. A great place to bring the kids to see these small critters. Put out some delicious sunflower seeds and these curious little guys will go nuts. A real chipmunk fiesta! Getting to St. Elmo is easy by regular passenger car in the spring, summer and fall. The other roads in the area may require four-wheel-drive. The best time to visit St. Elmo is in the summer and especially the fall when the aspens trees are filled with gold. This is a great place to photograph an old ghost town and the fascinating little critters of St. Elmo.
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