By Kristy McCaffrey
Animas Forks is a mining ghost town is southwestern Colorado, nestled in the San Juan Mountains 12 miles northeast of Silverton. It sits at an elevation of 11,200 feet, at the junction of three forks of the Animas River.
Established in 1873, it became a booming community by 1876 with approximately 30 cabins, a hotel, a saloon, a general store, assay offices, a boarding house, and a post office. The town’s growth was fueled by the mining of galena and silver-bearing gray copper, along with speculation and processing mills.
|Animas Forks, 1878|
While most residents moved to Silverton for the winter, a few hardy residents remained year-round, including several wives and their children. Many homes had connected outhouses, with a covered hallway leading from the home to the privy. In 1884, a 23-day blizzard overwhelmed the town with 25 feet of snow. The residents had to dig tunnels to get from building to building. The town also became isolated at times when avalanches in the passes would cut off supply routes. The narrow canyon produced avalanches that slid down one side and up the other.
By 1891, the town had begun to decline. Today, it’s located on a popular driving route called the Alpine Loop. Four-wheel drive is recommended, although you can get as far as Animas Forks with a two-wheel drive vehicle. Many of the buildings have been restored and are open to the public.
Animas Forks is one of the most visited ghost towns in Colorado.
A few photos from my visit to the area two years ago.
This short novella takes place in the Silverton/Animas Forks area.
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