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Animas Forks

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1875–1915. 13 miles northeast of Silverton on Engineer Pass Rd.
  • Animas Forks (Tom Noel)

Accessible only by four-wheel drive, this is one of Colorado's premier ghost towns, with a breathtaking, 11,200-foot-high site at the confluence of the north and west forks of the Animas River. The town once boasted some 200 residents and a plank sidewalk main street with several hotels, saloons, and the highest newspaper in the United States, The Animas Forks Pioneer. The stout old jail (1882), made of 2-by-6-inch planks stacked flat to create stronger walls, survives. So does the William D. Duncan House (1879; stabilized, 1987–1988), with its prominent bay window, at the northwest end of Main Street. The San Juan County Historical Society and Bureau of Land Management have undertaken to preserve Animas Forks and some of the surrounding mines and mills. Among many ruins are the concrete foundation of the three-story Gold Prince Boarding House; the skeleton of the Gold Prince's steel-frame concentrating mill, measuring 363 by 184 feet; and ruins of the 12,600-foot-long tramway with steel cables suspended from thirty-three towers to the Gold Prince Mine in Placer Gulch. Little remains of the Silverton Northern's 50-foot turntable (1904), where railroad locomotives were turned for the trip back to Silverton.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel


What's Nearby


Thomas J. Noel, "Animas Forks", [Silverton, Colorado], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Colorado, Thomas J. Noel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, 567-567.

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