Finding An Abandoned American Settlement & How It Became A Ghost Town


Thanks for joining us today and welcome to Colorado. As you hike through the forests of Colorado, it’s not uncommon to stumble on rances, mining settlements, and ghost towns. especially when you consider Colorado had
1,500 settlements. And today 600 of these are know and of those 300 stand. Just a fraction of these have been documented or even visited in the last 50-100 years. But these structures can still offer us historic insights and a glance into the lives of the American Pioneer and the people of the early 20th century. In this video, I would like to tour you though
on such settlement and discuss how the architecture that we found came to be. However; these locations require a certain
amount of preparation navigation, and experience with backwoods hiking. This trip and journey like it are not to be
taken lightly. As you could lose your bearing quickly in
the woods. Now with that said; even with proper preparation, you’ll need to use your senses to get a feel when you are generally close to a ghost town. One of the biggest indicators of this is rubbish
and tin. Such as; this tin here that my dog just pointed
to. Pieced of debris and old rubbish in crevices such as this are a good indicator that you’re hot on the trail of ghost town. As you get closer you will begin to see debris scattered about on the ground; such as tin glass, shaped wood fragments. Now modern Colorado is very clean and seeing debris of any variety is out of place. Something the you don’t often see is garments. Like this glove, I found frozen here, to the
ground. Leather tends to stay a bit long, so you can
sometimes find fragments of gloves, saddles, and so on. And that’s what this is. This is a glove. Here is the fingers. What’s happened here is the stitching on the backside has completely come apart. But the leather pieces themselves are still
intact. This is a relatively small glove and it likely
a child glove. It’s old, and there is no insulation inside. If you look here on the thumb, you can see
a little bit of that stitching still intact. There’s something about seeing a child’s glove like this that, in the wilderness that gives me the creeps. The imaginations goes wild when DerelictCog and I spotted these cat scratches that could be a mountain lion or bobcat. Furthermore, we spotted a few locations where the aroma of ammonia or basically a cat litter box could be smelled, where these large cats were marking. Here’s an interesting bone that alludes to
some big game hunting in the area. At first, I thought it was a moose antler,
but it has this projecting fin on the back. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s large and I am not sure if it’s a bone
or an antler. If you have any idea what it is please do
help me out in the comments section below. Now, let’s continue our search for this settlement. Not all debris will be on the ground; such
as this one I almost passed on this branch. It’s up high, but majority of the debris you
are looking for will be fragments and the will be scattered about on the ground. Such as; this jug handle that you can tell
was once a part of a much larger bottle. While it’s great to see little pieces of debris
and this indicates we are getting close. But, were really looking for is large garbage
pile or the town rubbish pile. Most city centers or settlements had a pile
that was a designated area for dumping their garbage. And it wsa anywhere from 50 to 100 yards away from the city centers. So pieces of debris are a little bit deceptive;
such as, this shotgun shell. The oxidization on the tin may lead you to
believe that it’s much older than it is. However, the fact that the brass has not yet
turned green and plastic is a dead giveaway that this is just modern litter. Screw top bottles can be a little deceptive. Because the screw top was invented in 1858. The fact that the labels are completely washed of bottles like this indicates they are a little bit older than what you would normally find. Once you begin to see scars in trees and barbed wire such as this, you’ve hit the property line. You may have already passed the rubbish pile or the weren’t necessarily the neatest settlers and kept their rubbish relatively close to
home. And there it is! Right there on the horizon. The settlement we’ve been looking for here
in these woods. It can be a little bit hard to spot, especially
because they were made of the natural materials around them. Now this land was homesteaded in the early 1900s. However, we’re going to see some things here that point to it being a little older than that. There is some trellising. They’ve laid some logs down here in their
back yard. either to prevent erosion or to make for a
nice bed to plant some of the things they farmed here. This site has two distinct architectural styles that are native to Colorado. “Rustic” and “Pioneer-Log”. Both of these styles are characterized by
there use of stones logs and the natural materials around them. Oh! And that rubbish pile we were looking for,
there it is! Right, there in their backyard. I guess they weren’t the tidiest of settlers. Majority of the rustic and pioneer structures
are abandoned and vacant. They are old hunting lodges and homesteads. some are used to this day as tourist attractions
or dude ranches. And some still sell for millions of dollars
as private homes. So it’s not that homes like this couldn’t
have been preserved or that they couldn’t be lived into this day. But unfortunately, this particular one is
a total loss. On the ground here you can see its eroded
so much that the water pipe is completely exposed. It does let us know that they did have at
least pumped water or well water of some sort. You can see the pipe there, coming into what likely was the main room. This is one of the last rooms that is till
standing. And you can see it’s not going to be for long. This property uses a hybrid of both Colorado styles, rustic and pioneer-log. The rustic style is often categorized by stone foundation projecting roofs, sloped walls, and small panned windows. All of which this property has; however, it
lacks one key characteristic. Which is the stone fireplace and hearth. Which would’ve put this right into the rustic
category. However; this used a tin flue and iorn stove,
which is more common in you pioneer-log cabins. Regardless of how you want to categorize it, the building techniques used emphasized craftsmanship and were typically handmade. The vasty majority of the buildings were constructed between 1900 and 1940. Here’s an interesting piece of debris. Yes, it is can… However; you can tell by the way that this
was opened with the two punctures. It was either a church-key or a traditional
can opener. But, what it held was liquid. So it was either juice or nectar that was
drank right from the can. Or something like chicken broth that was used for recipes. You’re going to find this at this point littered all throughout this area because we’re in the heart of the settlement. There’s some other key difference in the two architectural styles. They are subtle, but they are reflective of
the time in which they were built. Pioneer-log cabins, as their name implies;
were built during the initial U.S. settlement period. They exhibit a quick and crude form of construction. In contrast to the manufactured wood and parts that you’d see in a rustic cabin. This cabin here used a little bit of both. It’s a combination of manufactured and locally-harvested parts. There you can see some of the blue paint that was used as an accent and the green that it eventually turns to. Interestingly it was the builder experimentation and blending of the two architectural styles that likely led the this building’s early
collapse. This is because the rustic style is dependent on having a large stone chimney as a structural support member. whereas this house did not have the chimney, but it was still built with the height and hipped-roofs has if it had that support there. In the warmer months, they used this land
to harvest potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. They would ship these by truck or rail to
Denver. Throughout the year they raised livestock;
such as cattle or bison. In the winter month’s most ranchers worked for a privately owned packing company. This company helped to bridge the wintertime gap in income form many of the area ranchers. The company would basically cut large block of ice from Lake George and ship them to areas all around the Pikes Peak region, via the
Colorado-Midland Railway. In other words, this region was flush with
agricultural work year-round. These rancher’s lifestyles was an experimentation; a petr-Dish; If you would, in mountain farming and subsistence agriculture in the western
United States. It’s amazing that these ranchers were here
and living off there land. And this was at a time were explorers like
John C. Fremont was just making it to Colorado for the first time and reporting back his
findings. And some of his notes included thins like:
“the impression of the country traveled over today was one of dry and barren sands”. And the next day he wrote in his journal:
“that same dreary barrenness; except the hard marly clay was replaced by a sandy soil”. This isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for
the agricultural community or the folks back in Washington. Fremont’s expeditions and reports served to really frighten a lot of folks away from Colorado. And it didn’t help that there was this perceived threat of Native American attack. At this point, it was referred to as the “Great American Desert”. And it truly was, “the wild-west”. Regardless a group of hearty Colorado Natives was already well-practiced in subsistence agriculture. This was the ancestral Publans; from the Mesa Verde region. They had planed crops and used shared-irrigation for centuries prior to U.S. settlement. Eventually, Hispanic migrants moved from New Mexico to the San Louis Valley. During this process, they transplanted their
crops and shared irrigation traditions that are used in this region to this day. The national perception of Colorado being
a wasteland of a backwater really started to turn around. When a man named Alvin Setinel too another look at Colorado through his expedition in 1926. In his notes, he wrote: “To the practiced
eye of the grazer, It was clear that the western grassed differ in character to the varieties
to which he had been accustomed to in the states. It was discovered and later confirmed that
grass cured by nature; on the ground, not only maintained stock in good flesh, but the animals actually increased weight during the wintertime”. The structure that we’re looking at here was built in the 1800s. Likely before Fremont or Setinel ever wrote
their reports about Colorado. This would be an example of Pioneer-Log structure. It does not have the panned windows, it does, however, have framed doors. Which is not totally common. It uses absolutely no stone and is very crudely constructed. And when Isay crude, I mean; most of this
is actually held together with gravity. There is very little mortar doing anything
here. Think of it as an extra-large Lincoln-Log
set because it eventually works the same way. And this here; yes, some people refer to this as the “gunner-hole”. It was a removable section of log that was
more often used for ventilation then actually shooting out of. This structure pre-dates anything else we’ve seen in the settlement. It is likely the original building occupied
by the original settlers. And it wasn’t uncommon for them to come in and build a quick-fast makeshift structure and once they were more established, they
would branch out into other structures and styles. With the typical progression that an American settlement took; in terms of structures, it started out with tents. And then it moved on to the Pioneer-Log structure, that we just looked at. And later developed into the rustic architecture that we first looked at. But the marker and indicators of a truly successful settlement is stone and brick building and roadways. Which I was very excited to see a roadway
here and some stone building here. However; that stopped me from going much further! Let me zoom in to help you see. This is what we refer to locally as a “Mountain Man”. Accentually it’s someone who is living out
in the wilderness and often times in national parks or Bureau of Land Management land where they feel they won’t be found. You’ll see he’s got some fresh wood there. I saw some gasoline off to the right. They tend to be very reclusive people and
like to be left alone and that’s what I intend to do. With that in mind, I won’t go any further
today. Buty please do, like, comments, and subscribe.

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