A Ghost Town Preserved


During May travels I was glad to see the town of Independence still there and that efforts had been made to preserve some of its structures. I had visited a couple of times years ago and now better equipped with camera gear, I was thrilled to find subjects I wanted to shoot. Independence sprang up during the gold rush and was so named because miners struck gold here on July 4, 1879. Despite the almost 11,000 foot elevation, high in the mountains near the Continental Divide, the town flourished having a population of 1,500 at its peak in 1882. However, a combination of factors led to its decline including some extremely harsh winter storms which cut the town off from civilization. Residents started leaving for nearby Aspen’s milder climate and more favorable economic opportunities. By 1888 the town’s population was only 150 … 10 percent of what it had been 6 years earlier. This certainly is rugged country and I am in awe imagining what it must have been like to live here and then survive those winters. I hope you enjoy this trip back in time. Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the link at the end of the post!

‘A Look Back’ © Denise Bush
click here to view larger or order a print

‘Location, Location, Location’ © Denise Bush
notecards, unframed, framed, canvas, acrylic, & metal prints available

‘Through the Ages’ © Denise Bush
click here to view larger or order a print

‘Cabin Framework’ © Denise Bush

‘Cabins Down Below’ © Denise Bush

If you like ghost towns see my previous post, ‘Ghost Town Portals’. Click the large ‘Denise Bush’s Photo Blog’ at the top then scroll down.

30 Responses to “A Ghost Town Preserved”

  1. Fascinating. I would enjoy this adventure. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love that spot – it’s great for photos! Thanks for the memories!

    • Independence has stayed with me since my first visit in 1978! We visited again in the 90s when our son was young. Where do you live?

  3. Talk about boom and bust – those pop.numbers rose and fell quickly. I can just imagine how deep the snow would get up there.
    A great series, Denise. I love the way you used the doors to frame the views.

    • Thank you Eliza … it was a quick but fun shoot. Brent was waiting for me back at the truck or I would have stayed longer. I think the history is fascinating.

  4. Beauiful country and fabulous photos. They are quite evocative of times gone past.

  5. Lovely pictures of the place. Seeing the old places with long history like this, you could not help thinking what was it like back when. I do the same with all kinds of question.

  6. I am betting those ghosts are pretty chilly come winter without a proper roof overhead. Another great series of images along with interesting history. Now to get another set of photos up there in the snow???

    • Thank you Beth! I believe that pass is closed often in the winter. If the road was open you would need to get there right after a storm before it got tracked up. In the Wikipedia article I read they talked about the town being vulnerable to avalanches … the Colorado Women’s Club rallied to replant the slopes. One winter with only a few residents left there was extreme snow … some ripped boards off their homes and used them for skis to ski down to Aspen!

  7. 11,000 feet, wow! I can imagine a lower elevation might have looked better! These are really nice, there’s something very joyful here, in spite of any conclusions one might come to about ghost towns. I like the way you bring us in closer by degrees, too.

    • I don’t always do it but a good way to work a scene is just like that … getting the whole thing in and then getting in closer. I first visited Independence after Brent and I graduated college. It made a strong impression on me and the memory of it stayed with me. We stopped again when our son was young … the early 90’s.

  8. 15 Angela Moyer

    Great post and amazing images. A good book to read is Tomboy Bride. An account of life in early mining days in Telluride. Pretty hardy folk to survive the winters in the mountains.

    • I know … I wish I could travel back in time and meet them. Those mining towns had to be built where the gold and silver was! I am going to read ‘Tomboy Bride’ … thanks for offering to lend it to me.

  9. 17 Deb

    Such beautiful scenery, but I can’t even begin to imagine the struggles of living there. Amazing images Denise, thanks for bringing us on the journey!

  10. 19 Ken Curtis

    Sorry that it took so long for me to view this blog and the previous one on Portals. The images in both are wonderful. And I enjoy seeing your work. You have a great eye for seeing and your compositions are outstanding.

    • It didn’t take you long and no matter at all. I just appreciate that you take the time to visit and leave a comment so I know you did. You are a very thoughtful friend … just one of the things I admire about you … in addition to your photography!

  11. Excellent compostions – Love the “Cabins Down Below”

  12. The power of nature is so evident in these photos of yours.

  13. A wonderful collection, as always.

  14. I love the doorways as frames. The scenery is gorgeous, but I wouldn’t like the harsh, cold winters much.

    • Snow can come as early as October and as late as May … that’s a long winter! Thanks for looking and commenting … always great to hear from you!

  15. 29 Vickie Bush

    Denise I especially love the cabin framework. Looks like such a beautiful spot

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