From the Vault: End of an Era
“Ashcroft’s faded glory,” read a headline in the Aspen Tribune on Sept. 6, 1895. The article describes the “remains of what was once a brisk and lively town,” located “about 15 miles south of Aspen, near the head of Castle creek, where the Pearl range jutting to the north forms a semi-circular basin. To look now at the deserted houses and abandoned premises, one would scarcely believe that before him was the remnant of a city which once vied with Aspen in romantic and spectacular beauty, and which was considered the most promising locality for the investment of mining capital. For many years Ashcroft struggled with the numberless vicissitudes which impeded her growth and prosperity, and gave up the fight, only when abandoned by her inhabitants. Her buildings and institutions were left unguarded, to become the habitations of the owl and chipmunk. From these conditions Ashcroft has never been able to extricate herself. Where 15 years ago the spirit of enterprise and business activity thrived and flourished, a lone burro seeks refuge from the storm, or a mountain eagle swoops down for a moment’s rest from his lofty flight. Where in times past thousands of dollars were exchanged in a single night’s game, a familiar camp bird gathers scraps from the tourist’s wagon, and a timid chipmunk scampers away at the sight of man. There is probably no mining camp in the world where vaster fortunes have been sunk, from which nothing was ever realized, than in the immediate vicinity of Ashcroft. Miles of tunnel have been driven and vast surface workings of various kinds have been done, but a true lead has never yet been discovered, while the mother vein is still a secret known only to the hills. Strange, too, that such should be the fate of the camp, when only a few miles distance, and on the same contact, are located the Famous, Montezuma, Tam O’Shanter, Yellow Boy and the Tenderfoot, each of which have produced big dividends in both silver and lead. Mining in the immediate vicinity of Ashcroft has been practically abandoned of late and will not be resumed again soon, unless new chance developments are made, which at present seem entirely improbable.” The photo above shows Ashcroft, essentially abandoned in the early 1900s.
This photo and more can be found in the Aspen Historical Society archives at aspenhistory.org.
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