From the towering summits of the Rocky Mountains to the sprawling plains of the Front Range, Colorado is a state imbued with a rugged, untamed beauty that has captivated the adventurous spirit for generations. Known for its outdoor pursuits, vibrant arts scene, and a burgeoning tech industry, the Centennial State has another, more enigmatic facet—its wealth of intriguing abandoned places in Colorado, each with its own tale slowly eroding under the weight of time and elements. Welcome to the ethereal realm of Colorado’s forsaken landmarks.
These abandoned sites—a medley of ghost towns, disused mines, forsaken homesteads, and even decommissioned military bases—are historical markers in Colorado’s storied timeline. They resonate with the hushed stories of those who once breathed life into these now-deserted places. With every creaking floorboard and crumbling wall, they whisper fragments of dreams dreamed, toils undertaken, and histories etched into the landscape.
Stepping into these forsaken locations, one cannot help but be enveloped by an eerie tranquility. The solitude echoes through the decayed structures, and rusted remnants serve as haunting mementos of a time less transient than our own. These places are not just abandoned; they are time capsules, rich in narrative and heavy with an air of haunting nostalgia.
Yet, in seeking to unearth the secrets of these desolate places, we must tread with reverence and responsibility. Though they may appear forsaken, these sites are far from forgotten. They are part of Colorado’s rich cultural tapestry, artifacts of various eras that have shaped the state into what it is today. When you venture into Colorado’s hidden past, remember to pay homage to these relics of history—leave no trace, and treat them with the respect that their enduring presence commands.
Note: Many of these locations are in an extremely delicate state. Specifics on locations, such as coordinates or maps, are not given. This is done so purposefully as a barrier to entry to those who may mean harm to these spots. I want to ensure that these abandoned places in Colorado are known about, but stay as vandalism and destruction free as possible. Remember: Take only photos, leave only footprints.
Breakdown: The Top 14 and More
If you have a specific location from the list below that you would like to immediately get more information about, click the links in the list to snap straight to that abandoned places in Colorado location.
- Titan 1 Missile Silo (Deer Trail)
- Crystal Mill (Crystal)
- Ludlow Massacre Site (Trinidad)
- Gold Camp Road Tunnels (Colorado Springs)
- Animas Forks Ghost Town (Silverton)
- Abandoned Mine – Leadville Silver (Leadville)
- Valmont Butte (Boulder)
- Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Depot (Calhan)
- Overland Cotton Mill (Denver)
- Rosedale Elementary School (Denver)
- Postal Service Drain (Lone Tree)
- Colorado Fuel and Iron Building (Pueblo)
- Fountain Creek Bridge (Pueblo)
- Valmont Trains (Boulder)
Broaden Your Horizons Beyond Colorado
Are you interested in venturing outside the state of Colorado? Maybe you live close to the state line, or maybe you’re just looking for adventures outside your home state. Whatever the case may be, here are some guides to bordering states that may be helpful in effective urban exploration:
Don’t Forget About Trespassing Laws
It is important when considering abandoned places in Colorado to know the basics of Colorado trespassing laws. Luckily, we have developed a massive guide to trespassing laws in all 50 states. For laws that specifically relate to Colorado, please click here.
Without any further ado, let’s hop into the list of abandoned places!
The Best Abandoned Places in Colorado
Titan 1 Missile Silo (Deer Trail)
Colorado, renowned for its majestic landscapes and modern urban centers, also holds secrets from a bygone era—remnants of the Cold War era that whisper tales of a world teetering on the brink. Among these vestiges lies the Titan 1 Missile Silo, a sentinel of America’s early nuclear deterrence strategy.
Sprawled across the expansive plains of Colorado are six monumental subterranean chambers built for a singular purpose: housing the Titan 1, one of America’s initial ventures into the realm of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Stretching to an imposing length of nearly 100 feet, these missiles were potent symbols of America’s might, designed to deliver nuclear payloads across vast distances and deter adversaries from escalating conflicts.
While Aurora, a vibrant Denver suburb, hosts four of these colossal structures, the quieter towns of Elizabeth and Deer Trail are home to the other two. By 1965, advances in missile technology and changes in defense strategies rendered the Titan 1 silos obsolete, leading to their decommissioning.
Over the subsequent years, they were divested of their high-tech equipment, handed over to new custodians, and left to the embrace of time and nature, transforming into subterranean labyrinths in the shadow of the Rockies.
How Things Look Today
The Deer Creek site stands out amongst its peers. Situated approximately 45 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Denver, it has become a magnet for the intrepid and the curious—urban explorers eager to unearth the mysteries of a bygone age. While the entryway to this relic is protected by metal gates, the determination of adventurers has led to periodic breaches, etching stories of exploration, artistry, and occasional mischief.
However, the allure of Deer Creek’s underground maze is not without its hazards. Many explorers have faced legal consequences due to trespassing on privately-owned terrain. Moreover, the interiors present their own challenges—plunged in total darkness, the erstwhile missile chambers require reliable lighting for navigation.
The walls, once pristine and functional, now serve as canvases for graffiti artists, adding a splash of color to the otherwise monochrome abyss. And as if navigating this disorienting underworld wasn’t challenging enough, potential explorers should be wary of airborne threats like asbestos and be prepared with protective masks.
Furthermore, caution is essential when traversing the silo’s intricate network of beams and metallic pathways. Time and neglect have taken their toll—eroding panels and causing some to vanish altogether. This has resulted in perilous pitfalls leading to pools of stagnant water, tainted with remnants of rocket fuel.
For those seeking to unlock the stories of Colorado’s forgotten past, the Titan 1 Missile Silo at Deer Creek offers an unparalleled journey. A fusion of history, engineering marvel, and urban art gallery, it stands as a testament to both human ingenuity and the inexorable march of time.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Dalton McMillan via College Ave Magazine.
Crystal Mill (Crystal)
Nestled among the rugged peaks and verdant forests of Colorado, the Crystal Mill stands as an iconic testament to the state’s rich mining heritage. Looming majestically over the pristine waters of the Crystal River, this wooden marvel, also known as the Sheep Mountain Mill, is more than just an architectural wonder—it is a snapshot of a time when Colorado’s landscape echoed with the sounds of industry and ambition.
Constructed in 1892 during the zenith of the state’s mining boom, the Crystal Mill was an epitome of ingenuity and engineering prowess. Harnessing the untamed power of the Crystal River, the mill was ingeniously designed to convert the river’s kinetic energy into a mechanical force that powered an air compressor housed within its wooden walls.
This was achieved through a meticulously designed dam, which channeled water onto a vertical, ladder-like penstock. As water rushed down, it would strike a horizontal wheel, triggering the movement of an axle in the penstock.
This mechanical dance culminated in the powering of the air compressor, which in turn breathed life into the drills burrowing deep into the heart of Bear Mountain and Sheep Mountain. Miners would then strategically place dynamite into these meticulously drilled holes, the resulting explosions revealing the ore-laden secrets hidden within the rock’s embrace.
By 1917, the mill’s symphony of splashing water and clanking machinery fell silent, its purpose served. However, instead of surrendering to the ravages of time, the Crystal Mill has been lovingly preserved by passionate historic preservation groups, allowing it to continue its silent vigil over the river. It is the crown jewel of the ghost town of Crystal, serving as both a magnet for tourists and a living museum of Colorado’s illustrious past.
In recognition of its historical significance and the stories it silently tells, the Crystal Mill was rightfully accorded a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. For those embarking on a journey to uncover Colorado’s hidden gems, a visit to the mill is best undertaken in the embrace of summer or the hues of fall.
The journey to this secluded marvel requires a mix of adventure and determination, be it on a rugged four-wheel-drive vehicle, the back of a trusty steed, or the simple reliability of one’s hiking boots.
In a state abundant with natural wonders and historic treasures, the Crystal Mill stands out as a poignant reminder of the harmony between human ambition and the majesty of nature. It is, without doubt, a quintessential stop for anyone seeking to truly understand the soul of Colorado.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Nick Fox via Shutterstock.
Ludlow Massacre Site (Trinidad)
Though it rarely gets more than a passing mention—if that—in the history books, the Ludlow Massacre remains one of the most violent and tragic events in the American labor movement. Fortunately, the site of this painful incident in rural Colorado has been preserved and memorialized for future generations.
The primary catalyst of the deadly showdown began in the summer of 1913, when roughly 8,000 employees of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company formed a union expressly to protest the dangerous and unhealthy living and working conditions maintained by the company’s owners, the famed Rockefeller family. The miners immediately went on strike, and in retaliation, the company expelled the disgruntled employees and their families from the company town.
Undeterred, the workers literally put stakes in the ground, establishing a hastily-assembled tent city adjacent to the mines. Private security forces and National Guard troops raided the makeshift settlement in an effort to intimidate the union, but the situation remained tense but stable until April 20, 1914.
On that day, the militias onsite fired shots into the tent city, and the miners responded in kind. The opposing forces traded bullets throughout the day, but when darkness fell that evening, the National Guard set a fire that quickly consumed the encampment. When the sun rose the next day, more than two dozen civilians had lost their lives, including two women and 11 children who had taken shelter in an underground cellar.
The remains of the Ludlow company town are still visible on the site about 125 miles south of Colorado Springs. The former tent city has been designated with a monument funded by the United Mine Workers of America, and a worn cellar door still marks the site where the 13 women and children took their last breaths.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Tim Roberts Photography via Shutterstock.
Gold Camp Road Tunnels (Colorado Springs)
Tucked amidst the imposing grandeur of the Pikes Peak region lie the enigmatic Gold Camp Road Tunnels—a lingering testament to Colorado’s golden age of rail and its complex tapestry of history, hope, and heartbreak.
As the sun’s rays stretch across the undulating terrains, they reveal the silhouettes of these once-thriving railroad tunnels. These passages were meticulously chiseled into the mountainside during the latter part of the 19th century, intended to create a seamless transport link between the pulsating heart of Colorado Springs and the gold-rich veins of the nearby mines.
The construction process, arduous and perilous, is believed to have claimed the lives of many, a somber tribute to the cost of progress and ambition.
For nearly three decades, the distinctive chug of the Short Line Railroad’s engines echoed through these tunnels, carrying both dreams and treasures. Yet, as the 1920s drew to a close, the reverberating sounds of locomotives were replaced by the soft hum of automobiles. The once proud tracks were uprooted in 1929, making way for a conventional roadway, as a new era dawned.
However, time, as is its nature, wore away at the structural integrity of these architectural marvels. The combination of neglect, the elements, and human interference led to the eventual collapse of three of the tunnels.
Despite the prevailing eeriness and whispers of an urban legend—tales of a tragic school bus accident—such stories remain a product of local folklore, with no concrete evidence to validate them. Yet, such myths only add to the region’s mystique, drawing the curious and the brave.
Today, remnants of these tunnels stand like guardians of the past, ensnared by formidable black steel barriers bearing cautionary tales. Their daunting presence, however, has not deterred those with an adventurous spirit. The journey to these historic relics begins where Gold Camp Road trades asphalt for the ruggedness of dirt.
Aspiring explorers can park near the remains of Tunnel 6, choosing to traverse the trail either by foot or mountain bike. The path meanders through the majestic landscape, offering glimpses of Tunnels 4 and 5, before culminating at Tunnel 3.
While Colorado boasts numerous landmarks, the Gold Camp Road Tunnels offer more than just a scenic view—they offer a journey through time, an experience steeped in legends, and a chance to touch a bygone era. It’s a pilgrimage that every history aficionado and adventure seeker should undertake.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Allen Tanner via MTB Project.
Animas Forks Ghost Town (Silverton)
Cradled amidst the towering peaks of the San Juan Mountains, at a staggering elevation surpassing 11,000 feet, the ethereal remains of Animas Forks beckon to those who tread the path less traveled. A place where nature’s grandeur merges with tales of human endeavor and dreams long past, this ancient town is a gem for those drawn to history’s echo.
In 1873, pioneers, lured by the glint of precious metals, established Animas Forks, forging a community in the rugged wilderness. The town, originally christened “Three Forks of the Animas” due to its unique positioning at the confluence of three rivers, soon saw its name abbreviated by settlers to the succinct “Animas Forks.”
In its heyday, Animas Forks was a bustling tapestry of life in the wilds of Colorado. The streets, framed by the majestic mountains, were dotted with cabins that whispered tales of families who dared to dream in this remote outpost.
A hotel stood tall, welcoming travelers with the promise of warmth and shelter, while the local general store buzzed with activity as folks gathered to procure necessities. Evenings perhaps saw residents swapping stories at the saloon or discussing local happenings, with the Animas Forks Pioneer newspaper serving as their guide to the wider world.
Yet, this flourishing tableau was not without its challenges. The town’s lofty altitude meant that each year, as autumn’s golden hues began to wane, families would journey down to Silverton, seeking refuge from the winter’s biting cold.
Memories of the formidable blizzard of 1884 remain etched in the town’s legacy. For over 21 relentless days, snow cascaded from the heavens, eventually amassing to an awe-inspiring depth of 25 feet. The town transformed into a maze of snow tunnels, as residents, undeterred, carved their paths between buildings, a testament to their resilience.
However, like many mining towns of yore, the pulse of Animas Forks began to wane as the 20th century dawned. The veins of precious ore depleted, and the promise of prosperity faded. By the time the 1920s arrived, silence had all but engulfed the town, with most of its denizens seeking fortune elsewhere.
Today, the remnants of Animas Forks stand as a poignant tribute to a bygone era. Structures, though weathered by time, continue to narrate tales of ambition, community, and the indomitable human spirit. The town is now a revered destination on the scenic Alpine Loop, a 65-mile journey connecting Lake City, Ouray, and Silverton, attracting thousands of history enthusiasts, adventurers, and seekers of beauty each year.
Animas Forks, in its serene desolation, offers a unique blend of nature’s magnificence and the echoes of human history. A visit here is not just a journey through the breathtaking landscapes of Colorado but also a profound walk through time.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Paul Brady Photography via Shutterstock.
Abandoned Mine – Leadville Silver (Leadville)
Tucked away amidst the picturesque high-altitude landscapes of Colorado, Leadville stands as a testament to the boom-and-bust cycles that shaped much of the American West. Its story, much like the veins of precious metals that run deep below its surface, is rich and multi-layered.
While the initial lure to Leadville was the promise of gold in the mid-19th century, the town’s destiny changed in 1879. Beneath the rocky terrains lay vast reservoirs of silver, which sparked the illustrious Colorado Silver Boom. For fifteen thrilling years, fortunes were made overnight, and the town thrived in a shimmering haze of prosperity.
However, the ever-fluctuating world of minerals is fickle, as was proven by the silver crash of 1893. In an almost cataclysmic turn of events, silver prices plummeted, leaving a trail of abandoned mines in its wake and stealing the livelihoods of a staggering 90% of the area’s miners.
The once-bustling town teetered on the brink of obscurity. Yet, resilient as ever, Leadville’s fate took another turn. Beneath its soils lay other treasures – gold, zinc, molybdenum – which breathed life back into its veins.
The 20th century saw a roller-coaster of fortunes for the mining community. Global events, like the World Wars, surged the demand for minerals, whereas the Great Depression cast a long, ominous shadow over the mines.
And as the dust of World War II settled, a realization dawned upon the town’s leaders: the ebb and flow of mining fortunes couldn’t anchor Leadville’s future. With foresight, they pivoted towards tourism and diversified industries, ensuring the region’s sustainability.
Today, Leadville’s mining legacy may have faded, but it hasn’t been forgotten. Just a stone’s throw east of the town, an abandoned silver mine stands as a silent witness to an era gone by. Here, remnants of a once-thriving industry beckon the curious.
Crumbling wooden structures lean precariously, while heaps of rock and remnants of smelting operations paint a melancholic picture. Amidst this tableau of decay, nature continues its inexorable march, with verdant evergreens standing tall and azure skies stretching endlessly overhead.
Visitors to this abandoned mine are not just stepping onto a historical site; they’re walking through pages of a rich and tumultuous narrative. It’s a journey back in time, capturing the essence of human determination, dreams, and the indomitable spirit of a community that refused to fade into oblivion.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by PhotoTrippingAmerica via Shutterstock.
Valmont Butte (Boulder)
Long before the modern bustle of Boulder’s cityscape came into being, the towering Valmont Butte stood sentinel over the plains. Its stark grandeur and spiritual aura made it a focal point of reverence among the Native American tribes who once called this land home.
This magnificent outcropping, often bathed in the golden hues of dawn or the crimson glow of sunset, was more than just a geographic landmark for the indigenous people. It was a hallowed space, a convergence of life and death. The evidence of this is found in the myriad artifacts that pepper its slopes, speaking of camping grounds, hunting expeditions, sacred rites, and even final resting places.
However, as the wheel of time turned and white settlers made their way to this region, the sacredness of Valmont Butte began to be overshadowed by the march of civilization. The very heart of what would become the town of Valmont found its rhythm around the butte.
As days turned into decades, Valmont burgeoned, complete with the characteristic trappings of a prospering settlement – from saloons where tales of old and new were exchanged over drinks to the pages of a local newspaper chronicling the everyday stories of its inhabitants.
The 20th century saw another transformation for Valmont Butte. The allure of mineral riches, especially during the 1930s and 1940s, led to the creation of rock quarries etching their mark on the butte’s flanks. Soon, a mill stood proudly, processing gold ore and fluorspar harvested from the heart of the mountain. This era of industrial boom, however, came with a heavy price.
The quest for prosperity scarred not just the landscape but penetrated deeper, tainting the soil and groundwater with insidious toxins like heavy metals and radium. The environmental aftermath was so dire that the EPA highlighted Valmont Butte as one of Colorado’s ten most polluted sites.
Seeking to restore some semblance of its former glory, the City of Boulder took ownership of this beleaguered landmark in 2000. Although efforts have been made to cleanse the land and water, the scars run deep, both physically and metaphorically.
Today, Valmont Butte stands as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance between progress and preservation, urging us to remember and respect the sacred spaces that have borne witness to centuries of history.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Jefferson Dodge via Boulder Weekly.
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Depot (Calhan)
In the sprawling plains of Calhan, a small yet significant edifice stands as a testament to an era when railroads were the lifeblood of America’s expansion and prosperity. The Calhan Rock Island Railroad Depot, constructed in 1906, might appear as an unassuming one-story building, but its history is deeply intertwined with the growth and development of the region.
Within its walls, the depot housed a myriad of amenities essential for a functioning train station during that period. From a waiting room, echoing with the anticipation of passengers eager to embark on their journeys, to a ticket office, a bustling center of commerce, and a storage area, safeguarding goods meant for distant markets. The coal-fired potbelly stove, with its warm embrace, offered respite to travelers and staff from the biting Colorado cold.
The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company, in its quest for an optimal location, found Calhan’s almost barren landscape and its pristine groundwater compelling enough to mark it as a pivotal stop. Strategically located between Limon and Colorado Springs, the depot quickly became a vital cog in the rail line’s expansive network.
For decades, the depot facilitated seamless travel from the vast fields of Kansas to the bustling streets of Colorado Springs. However, as with many historical sagas, change was on the horizon. By the early 1970s, the decline in rail travel and an unstable economy pushed the railroad towards bankruptcy.
Although the rails met an unceremonious end in the scrap yards of the early 1990s, the depot managed to withstand the test of time. Recognizing its historical significance, it was rightfully added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
A beacon for railroad enthusiasts, the depot drew the attention of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Heritage Society in 2013. With a symbolic purchase price of $25 from the Town of Calhan, the society embarked on an ambitious mission: resurrecting the depot’s former glory and creating a hub for railroad history.
This monumental restoration task entails not only structural repairs, like a new roof and gutters but also bringing the magic of railroads alive for newer generations. With plans to lay tracks for showcasing vintage rail cars, the society has already made headway by procuring authentic relics from the past, including a Rock Island caboose, a passenger car, and a flatcar.
In the heart of Calhan, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Depot stands not just as a building but as a living monument to the golden age of railroads, eager to share its tales with those who lend an ear.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by MElizabethTill via Wikimedia Commons.
Overland Cotton Mill (Denver)
NOTE: This location is now NOT abandoned.
Completed in 1891, this two-story red-brick industrial building housed a booming textile operation. A rail spur on the west side of the largest building was used to ship raw cotton from Texas to the mill for processing, and during its 13 years in operation, the company produced millions of yards of cloth each year—primarily heavy-duty cotton designed for work apparel.
The Overland Cotton Mill’s design included several innovative features to maximize efficiency, including enormous windows that let plenty of natural light into the building and reduced the need for additional artificial lighting inside the workspace.
Each of these narrow windows consisted of 24 panes of glass set in metal frames, with red sandstone sills and a segmental brick arch over the top. The facility also incorporated large concrete ducts that snaked under the floors and inside the masonry piers; fans blew air over pools of water and into the ducts, both helping cool the building and adding humidity to the air to reduce the likelihood of fires caused by sparks of static electricity.
The mill shut down after taking a massive financial hit during the lengthy coal strike of 1903, and its next occupant was the notorious Ku Klux Klan, which leased the administrative wing of the building to house its local headquarters.
Other industrial operations were located in the facility over the next several decades, including the Pittsburgh Radium Company, which processed vanadium ore; Merrion & Wilkins, which auctioned wool; and Colorado Builders’ Supply.
During World War II, the plant was used to produce shell casings, and the site was so critical to the war effort that it was quickly restored after a devastating fire ravaged the building in 1942.
After a major renovation was completed in the early 1990s, Hercules Industries moved into the historic building, where it continues to manufacture heating and air conditioning equipment.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Denver Architecture Foundation.
Rosedale Elementary School (Denver)
The future of this long-vacant elementary school, which closed in 2005 due to low enrollment, is currently the subject of heated debate in the south Denver neighborhood of Rosedale.
Built in 1924, the vast two-story brick building appears in reasonably good condition from the outside, but a peek into the empty classrooms tells a different tale.
The ceilings are pockmarked with missing panels, and piles of debris litter the corners of many rooms, most of which are in desperate need of renovation, having last been updated during the facility’s last expansion in the 1970s.
Now, Denver Public Schools is weighing its options for the facility, which include renovating it for use as an early childhood education center; accepting a bid from the Archdiocese of Denver, which wants to reopen the building as a private high school; selling the property to a private developer; renovating it for lease to a third party; or doing nothing and allowing the building to remain vacant.
District estimates peg the cost of renovation at around $16 million, while its assessed value is roughly $3.2 million.
The school board continues to solicit community feedback on how to proceed, so a decision on what to do with the four-acre property is likely many months away. For now, the century-old building remains empty, its hallways now collecting dust and debris instead of the chatter of children. All in all, this is an awesome example of great abandoned places in Colorado.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat Colorado.
Postal Service Drain (Lone Tree)
Nestled within the suburban expanse of Lone Tree lies an underground enigma: the Postal Service Drain. The peculiar name doesn’t arise from any historical association with the mail service, but rather from the dominant graffiti art that marks its entrance, an inadvertent signature by local artists.
The drain stretches intriguingly beneath the town, consisting of roughly half a mile of robust eight-foot reinforced concrete pipe. Complementing this primary tunnel, a smaller segment made of eight-foot corrugated aluminum pipe extends in quiet subterranean splendor.
But the real surprise awaits explorers at the end: a capacious chamber where shadowy walls provide the canvas for vibrant graffiti. This chamber is crowned with a ladder that seems to beckon adventurers further into the abyss, leading to two smaller offshoot tunnels, each with its own mysteries waiting to be unraveled.
Though records of the drain’s construction are sparse, it is widely speculated to be a product of the 1990s. The reasons for its construction remain shrouded in mystery. Was it intended for stormwater management, or perhaps a forgotten infrastructure project? Over time, this subterranean corridor has evolved into a canvas for street artists, a rite of passage for daring teenagers, and a tantalizing challenge for urban explorers.
The Postal Service Drain, while seemingly inconspicuous, has slowly transformed into a local legend. The walls within echo with whispered secrets and stories, murmured by those who have braved its depths. In an ever-growing urban world, it stands as a reminder of the mysteries that can still be found, right beneath our feet.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Vladimir Mulder via Shutterstock.
Colorado Fuel and Iron Building (Pueblo)
Completed in 1901, this distinctive Mission Revival-style building once held the administrative offices of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, including its purchasing, finance, payroll, engineering, and other functions.
At its peak in the mid-20th century, the mining and steel-making juggernaut operated dozens of coal mines in multiple states and served as the only steel mill in the American West until 1942. Over the decades, it employed thousands of local residents until it shuttered operations in the early 1990s.
The administrative building, as well as its sister structure—which housed the company’s medical dispensary and clinic for treating employees’ minor injuries and illnesses—were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002 and were designated a National Historic Landmark in 2021.
The former medical building is now owned by the Steelworks Center of the West, which converted the structure into the Steelworks Museum of Industry and Culture. The museum features exhibits dedicated to the local history of coal mining, steel production, the railroad industry, the labor movement and the role of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in the region.
Steelworks has announced a $12 million effort to clean up, redevelop and renovate the former administrative building for an expansion of the museum.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Carol Highsmith via the Library of Congress.
Fountain Creek Bridge (Pueblo)
The Fountain Creek Bridge in Pueblo stands as a silent testament to a bygone era, a rusted sentinel overlooking the waters of Fountain Creek. Erected in 1901, this once-bustling through truss bridge served as a crucial artery for Union Pacific trains, connecting points of commerce and transporting goods and people across the region.
Its steadfast iron framework and the rhythmic clattering of trains once resonated in harmony with the flow of the creek below. Yet, as time marched on, the bridge bore witness to fewer and fewer trains, its purpose waning with the evolving demands of transport and infrastructure.
Details regarding when the last train rumbled over its spans remain shrouded in the mists of history. However, the bridge’s decline became undeniably evident in 2011, when Union Pacific decided to dismantle six of its iron and lumber spans.
In the same year, Pueblo’s commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of its residents led to the removal of two bridge piers. This action was taken as a proactive measure to mitigate potential flood risks, underscoring the bridge’s diminishing role in modern Pueblo.
Although the once-mighty bridge is now reduced to a skeletal vestige of its former self, it still commands a quiet respect. The City of Pueblo has indicated its intention to eventually remove the entire structure, marking the end of its long-standing watch over Fountain Creek.
Yet, for the time being, it remains a nostalgic landmark, evoking memories of Pueblo’s rich rail history and serving as a poignant reminder of the impermanence of human endeavors against the backdrop of nature’s ever-flowing tapestry.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by Patricia Gallardo via Wikimedia Commons.
Valmont Trains (Boulder)
In the heart of Boulder, the Valmont Trains stand as an open-air museum to the bygone days of rail travel and transportation. Overgrown with nature, rusting and fading with time, these relics tell stories of industrial progress, ambition, and eventual decline.
Established by the Boulder County Railway Historical Society in 1997, the aim was clear: to breathe new life into the aging carriages and locomotives and to create a space where future generations could witness the grandeur of historic rail travel. The Valmont Railroad Museum was set up on an unused track leased from Union Pacific, showing promise and commitment towards preserving a crucial chapter in Boulder’s history.
However, the rhythmic passage of time and changing priorities led to the society’s dissolution. The once-bustling site, marked as the property of the Museum of Railway Workers, soon became silent. The echoes of enthusiasts, historians, and restorers faded, leaving the rail cars to face the elements alone.
The collection at the site is nothing short of impressive. From the proud 1954 Great Western GP9 standard gauge locomotive, which likely thundered across vast distances in its prime, to the 1980s-era Longmont caboose, each car holds a unique story.
The 1955 General Electric 80-ton diesel locomotive and the 1913 Union Pacific Caboose speak of eras of innovation and change. Particularly poignant is the former U.S. Army hospital car, a silent witness to the sorrows and heroism of World War II.
The Valmont Trains, in their rusted glory, remain a haunting and evocative site for those who stumble upon them. They are a testament to the cycles of progress, preservation, neglect, and rediscovery. They remain an integral part of Colorado’s rich tapestry of history, silently waiting for another chance at revival or, at the very least, to be remembered.
Abandoned places in Colorado image by CaptainTrashEJ via Imgur.
Our Final Thoughts on Abandoned Places in Colorado
Those who are into urban exploration in the Colorado state area, and want to explore abandoned places in Colorado, should get comfortable with Colorado trespassing laws. Luckily, in the state of Colorado, the laws are easy to understand and are pretty cut and dry.
For more about obtaining permission to explore abandoned places in Colorado, check out our guide Explore Abandoned Buildings: How To Get Permission.