There’s some haunting history up in the San Juan Mountains. Animas Forks has been abandoned for more than 100 years, but is one of the most well-preserved ghost towns in the Western U.S.
Where Is Animas Forks?
Animas Forks is located at 11,200 feet above sea level high in the hills of the San Juan Mountains along the Alpine Loop. It usually takes a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to conquer the unimproved roads to the ghost town. The mountain ghost town comes with a wealth of history. It was established as a mining town in the 1870s, prospered in the 1880s with more than 450 summer residents, and was abandoned by the 1920s.
What Happened At Animas Forks?
A lot happened in this town during it’s 50 year history. Prospectors occupied more than 30 cabins at the peak of the city’s rush. The bustling little city in the San Juans also supported a hotel, several saloons, a drug store, a post office, and even a jail with 2 cells when business was booming. What happened to the town? Let’s look into the legend of this ghost town and explore more about its history and ultimate decline to today’s ghost town status.
Why Is It A Ghost Town?
Prospectors discovered gold and silver at Animas Forks in 1873. Colorado logistics magnate Otto Mears built a wagon road to this mining destination in 1875. Mears’ road ushered in all kinds of men seeking the mountain’s precious metals. Business and mining boomed until a fire in the hotel kitchen destroyed 14 buildings in October of 1891. Even though the town was rebuilt, it never fully recovered. The silver market crashed in 1893, and that drove even more folks out of town.
The Silver Mines
The town's silver mines near saw several ups and downs for the next few years. Mears extended the Silverton Northern Railroad to Animas Forks in 1904 and the city’s Prince Gold mill was built the same year. However, it only lasted until 1917 when the equipment was moved to Eureka. A faithful few men worked the gold and silver mines nearby until the 1920s, but falling metal prices drove the remaining miners away by the 1920s.
Since then, the area has been a ghost town since the final miners departed. Today what was once the prosperous mining town is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.
Is Animas Forks Haunted?
The old mining town is certainly abandoned and has been for a hundred years, but is it haunted? Some visitors to the dozen or so standing buildings in Animas Forks claim to feel a certain otherworldly presence when touring the deserted city. The best way to determine if the town is haunted by ghosts of the past is to tour for yourself and mind your senses for spooky sensations!
Visit Animas Forks
The abandoned city is located in the San Juan Mountains just north of Silverton. It’s about a 60 mile drive from Durango to the Alpine Loop where you’ll find the Animas Forks ghost town. It takes a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to conquer the Alpine Loop heading into Animas Forks. Consider a Durango Jeep rental to get you there. A Jeep will let you over the unimproved roads and rough terrain on the way to Animas Forks.
Ready to explore history and more at this deserted mining town? Plan your next Southwest Colorado vacation and take in all the region’s riches.