Admittedly, I’m a ghost town girl at heart. This has never been clearer to me than in the recent weeks spent in the Colorado Rockies where I raised my children and my Siberian huskies. I recall the moment I first set foot on “ghost town terra firma,” when my husband and I made the trip out of Denver into the foothills and then over Berthoud Pass, to reach the Fraser Valley in Grand County, Colorado. On that journey, we passed through Idaho Springs and nearby Central City, Empire, Fraser, and then Tabernash, with Hot Sulphur Springs and Leadville not too far ahead, before we reached our new home in the mountains. At the time I didn’t think of these towns as ghost towns or semi-ghost towns, but a part of the scenic western landscape that held my eye and attention along the climb high into the Rockies. I didn’t realize the impact such a journey would have on my writing life until I set pen to paper, years later.
That’s when “the moment I first set foot on ghost town terra firma,” revealed itself to me. That’s when I fell head over heels in love with the romance of the West–when the clock turned back in time and I could hear the whispers in the tall pines and trace them across mountain valleys to the vast prairies waiting below–when I realized I was a ghost town girl.
The Ute tribes occupied much of Colorado and Utah, and I began to feel their spirits wash past and hear their whispers of times long ago. Life was good for this fierce mountain people until they were pushed from their homes onto reservations. The Utes were the last tribe to hold out; one reason being the nature of the high mountain passes which kept the white man away. On any drive to town, if I looked at just the right time…I could see Chief Tabernash and his warriors’ race across the valley floor and cause quite a dust up. On any trip to the hot springs I could hear children laugh and play as they watched their parents wade sick horses in the healing waters. History came alive for me; not just Native American history, but the struggle of pioneers seeking out a new life in the West.
From historic frontier boomtowns to thriving cities today, Colorado is rich in Old West tradition and colored with a romantic beauty unlike any other. It captures the heart. It certainly captured mine when the ghosts of times past visited in my daydreams and night musings, to whisper their stories, their struggles, their hopes, and their despair. Characters came alive; heroes and heroines who lived in a time long forgotten. Soft-spoken voices came out of history to tell me they still walked and talked and lived in frontier towns, where buildings have today crumbled and but a few remnants of their lives remain visible to the naked eye.
Worlds ever brush past, both human and spirit–a guarantee to bring out the ghost town girl in me.
As ever … husky hugs,