NOTE: Open post and then Single Click On first Post Photo to view an album in a more detailed, larger format...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ironton: A Ghost Town Remembered and Revisited... Plus, A Red Mountain Summit With Arianna

Son, Caleb, and Dotter-in-law, Kelli, showed up with Arianna a couple of weeks ago. Bobbie and I were introduced to Arianna last September (2016) when she arrived in Lovely Ouray to attend Caleb and Kelli's wedding. Kelli met Arianna when she ran off to live in Denmark to test the waters of freedom, and they've maintained a friendship ever since.

Given that Arianna just stepped off an exhausting flight from Europe, that her internal clock was confused, and that she lives at sea level, I thought a short hike at 10,000 feet would be plenty to start off with.  Hey, she's young and fit!

We piled into Sue Bee and took The Million Dollar Highway south out of Lovely Ouray. Just beyond Crystal Lake, we stopped to hike through the old mining ghost town of Ironton. 

Sometime around 1879, prospectors found worthy deposits of gold, lead, silver and copper near Ironton. In 1881 a miner by the name of John Robinson founded the fabulously rich Yankee Girl and Guston mines just above the relatively flat Ironton Park. 

Yankee Girl Mine
Mule and burro pack trains were the only means to supply miners in remote places. The Million Dollar Highway was a narrow toll road in those days and the main supply route to and from Ouray.
The Million Dollar Highway.  You are in big trouble if something spooks the horses here...or if you meet someone coming the other direction.
Ironton was probably the tamest town in the Red Mountain Mining District. They had schools and churches and only a few saloons. Red Mountain Town a few miles south, however, boasted over 20 saloons and was quite a party place. A minister once tried to establish a church there and was told to "hit the road." He did, opening a church in Ironton, where he was warmly received.

Today Ironton is a true ghost town, but a hardy few people maintained residence there as late as 1960, before giving in to the elements and poverty. 

Ironton photos from the late 1800's...

Below are winter photos from previous excursions through Ironton with normal amounts of snow... 

Here is what it looked like on our visit in a couple weeks ago

Needless to say, we didn't need snowshoes...

From Ironton, we hiked up to the old Colorado Boy mine-head. Arianna seemed to be doing pretty good, for a "flatlander." 
Colorado Boy Mine

From Colorado Boy, we ascended another shady mile or two up to an old suspended bridge that now hangs by a thread. The photo below is from a previous year when there was snow. You can see the old walkway hanging from a single cable. As well as a shortcut for miners to cross the chasm, the swinging bridge served as a support for a needed waterline.

Below is this year's photograph. Hard to believe it's late December...

Above you can see remnants of the old waterline. It's made out of wood, believe it or not, sort of like the way whiskey barrels are made by abutting tapered staves cut to fit into a circular vessel. The pipe was then wrapped with spring wire to hold it together, as opposed to metal circular bands on barrels. Once the pipe is wetted, the wood pipe staves swell against each other and makes a water tight fit. But talk about labor intensive. There are miles and miles of these pipes all over Ouray County.

After making our way back to the car, Arianna was up for something in the sun. Caleb suggested climbing Red Mountain 3, as the approach is south facing and it should be doable. That hike starts at 11,000 feet and goes to just shy of 13,000. Arianna is willing, says she'll give a go. I warn her about Altitude Sickness and all the symptoms, and that if she feels any one of them we need to get down.  

Arianna, Blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the destination behind her. 
Up we go...one step at a time. Fortunately, there is an old mining road to follow. Still, it's unbelievably steep at times and the air is thin.

Caleb and Kelli are first to summit. A stunning day with a stunning view. And, NO WIND!

Kelli jumps for joy!

Buddies Kelli and Arianna...

Mr and Mrs Guide Noir 

Success Selfie

Almost down...

Hope you enjoyed our little history lesson.

Happy New Year to all of the BCB Audience!!! 
We wish you all the best year yet. 

And to Arianna: You rocked Colorado!

mark and bobbie... still recuperating in Lovely Ouray :).


  1. Love that Red Mountain hike.That looks like just about the right amount of snow to me!

    1. Amazingly, It was a better day than when we climbed it with you. Go figure...

  2. Thanks for a year of inspiration Mark!

    From Mizzouri,


    1. Thanks Kirstin and John. FYI: I saw on your blog that you've stayed at the Osage Beach Rv Park at Lake of the Ozarks. My son, Caleb, and his wife, Kelli, have taken over management and operation of that park as of last summer. They are making many improvements, most notably Wi Fi upgrades for more bandwidth and speed, office remodel, and various other improvements.
      When you return tell them you are a BCB follower...maybe you will get special treatment :)>
      Box Canyon Mark

  3. Great post Mark, love the Ironton history & photos, it wasn't that long ago, that's what makes being in Ouray so Special!
    We were justing watching 2018 celebrations via live web cams from Amsterdam, Vienna & Brugge, all favorite places also.
    Fun shots of Kelli jumping for joy, I would be jumping for joy to be in Copenhagen tonight. :)
    Who says you can't have fun in Winter in Ouray without any snow!
    Cool Dude ....you are the Internets most exciting Blogger, bar none!
    Happy New Year to all

  4. As usual, stunning mountain views and a couple good stories to go with! Happy New Year to y'all too :)

  5. It's such a gorgeous part of the country. Glad you are up and out. Happy New Year to you and Bobbie.

  6. Wow! I can't believe how little snow there is. That's too bad. Arianna really did rock that hike! Amazing that she could breath. Wishing you and Bobbie a happy, healthy, 2018!

    1. Lake Powell and Lake Mead are doomed to drop another few feet...
      Happy New Year from Lovely Ouray,

  7. Ah, the toughness of youth! The lack of snow is shocking.

    Happy New Year Mark and Bobbie! Wishing you a healthy, adventurous year ahead!

    1. And to you and Hans as well, Lisa.
      Enjoy a beer on me...just put it on my tab :)

  8. Happy New Year! Glad we could spend it together

  9. Love those old mining towns, the snow...not so much:))

  10. We had a sizable amount of snow here in Wisconsin last week and I pondered getting snowshoes. But a week later it is all melted and my plan is to only suffer through a Wisconsin January 2 more times before never being here again that time of year so why spend the money? Your snow always looks so pretty, but I'd rather spend January with a dusting of snow in the red rock of Utah...


If you like reading blog posts...from any blogger...consider leaving a "tip" in the form of a "comment" to the author, lest the blog might disappear from perceived lack of interest.