The drive through the empty Chalk Creek Canyon to the ghost town was an eerie prelude of things to come. St. Elmo is a ghost town in the heart of the Sawatch Mountain range
southwest of Buena Vista. Founded in 1880 it grew to a population of 2000 when
silver and gold mining were active but by 1922 the mining industry declined and
the train to St. Elmo was discontinued. Postal service ended in 1952 and the
Surrounded by mountain peaks with the wind blowing dust down the deserted dirt roads left us with a dream-like vision of what must have been. The distant sound of hammering and talking only added to the spooky feeling as we wandered knowing there were people present but realizing we were unable to see them.
Is the loss of this part of history the price we pay for what is so often and so errantly called progress? If I were to hazard a guess I would say that this town is presently being restored and if we were to return in 20 years we would find a carnival-like commercial Wild West atmosphere that would totally rob this town of its current mystery and charm. I was much happier knowing we saw it while it really was a ghost town not some wannabe theme park.
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