Perched precariously atop the Eagle River Canyon at 8,970 feet, Gilman is one of Colorado's newest ghost towns. Named for mining man Henry M. Gilman, it mushroomed as fortune seekers from Leadville poured into the Battle Mountain District, named for an 1849 battle between the Utes and the Arapaho. On a shoulder of Battle Mountain, 600 feet above the river and the D&RG tracks, the town of Gilman flourished on a diet of silver, zinc, copper, lead, and a little gold. A tram carried ore and supplies to and from the railroad at the foot of the canyon, while passengers climbed the steep grade on a stairway. The New Jersey Zinc Company purchased Gilman and nearby mines in 1912, creating a company town which by the 1930s produced 85 percent of Colorado's copper and 65 percent of its silver. During the 1930s and 1940s boom, Gilman's population climbed back almost to 500, where it had peaked in the 1890s. After the Eagle Mine closed in 1977, residents were evicted from the drab, typical company town in a spectacular natural setting. Like many closed mines, the Eagle continues to be a source of water pollution, spilling acids, arsenic, and other hazardous wastes into the Eagle River. Although placed on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund cleanup list in the 1980s, Gilman still awaits a prescribed $100 million cleanup.
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