Tag Archives: Colorado history

GHOST TOWN!

I’m finishing a novel set in Colorado at the turn of the nineteenth century. Part of the tale includes my protagonist traveling to a high-altitude mining town. Research for the book allowed for an excursion into the Colorado mountains. Ghost towns are boom and bust towns related to the mining industry that flourish for a short time but then are abandoned. They are not particularly known for ghosts, but I’m sure a few linger…

The photos show some of what remains of St. Elmo today.

The town was founded in 1880 and originally named Forrest City. It was changed when several other towns also used that name causing confusion. One of the founding fathers happened to be reading a book titled St. Elmo and was inspired by the romantic tale. Gold and silver mining drew people to settle there.

At its height, St. Elmo had about 2000 residents (mostly male, typical of all mining endeavors). The town center included several hotels and saloons, a general store, a telegraph office, a newspaper office, a town hall, and a schoolhouse. No mention of a church nor the prostitution cribs (in some places like Cripple Creek, we know where the “Red Light District” was).

There were 150 mine claims in the area, but the majority of men worked at only four of the biggest mines. The largest and most productive was the gold mine called the Mary Murphy which operated until 1922 recovering $60 M through the years. A railroad ran through St. Elmo allowing the town access to supplies.

Although the Mary Murphy continued to be profitable many of the other claims failed. By the 1920s, the town had been in steady decline for years. By 1958, the place was a virtual ghost town although a few people still reside in the houses photographed.

Nowadays, most of St. Elmo is considered private property. You are allowed to photograph from a proscribed distance, but the buildings are not necessarily deserted like they are in some more remote ghost towns of the west. In fact, St. Elmo is considered to be one of the most accessible Colorado ghost towns (despite the long drive on unpaved road) because you can actually drive up to it. Many require hiking through remote parts of the state.     

So if you read about Tallulah visiting Teller City searching for her long-lost Ma, you’ll know I’m waving from St. Elmo!

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WHAT I’M WORKING ON

If you follow my blogs, Facebook, or Twitter feeds, I’m sure it looks like I’m not doing a whole lot. But since being back in country (since late Oct.) things have been very busy. Personal challenges continue— my mother died in April and the house hunt continues.

Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds, my new book was released this spring. Since the publisher does not have ebook rights, I’ll be releasing an ebook this fall. It will be an expanded version of the print book with additional material. My goal is to release this in time for Halloween since it’s a ghost story. Stay tuned for more on that.

The most coveted tulip during Tulipmania: Semper Augustus- could sell for as much as a grand canal house!

Additionally, I’m working on a new novel that’s about three quarters complete. No title yet. This has been a fun book to work on. It’s required some research into the history of Colorado’s start and the history of tuberculosis (the White Plague). The book is a visionary tale about girl who grows up in a 19th century, Colorado town known for its dry climate and healing waters. With a father in the mortuary business, Tallulah has always been around TB and death. Tally’s mother died when she was born, and she longs to know more about the woman who should have raised her. Two peculiar town residents, who Tally is warned to give wide berth, sisters Dottie and Lottie (rumor has it) can speak to the dead. Can Tally persuade them to help her? I’m hoping to finish this by the end of the year. Add your title ideas in the comments section. PLEASE!!

TB sufferers taking the open air cure.

Another manuscript I’ve been sitting on for a while, I think I’m going to self-publish soon. The Greening of the Laurel is a visionary, YA book in thriller mode.  Ryan’s junior year is turned upside down by a series of bizarre visions and freaky encounters with fire. Eventually, Ryan ends up in the ER. He finally comes face to face with the man who claims to have all the answers. But how can quantum physics and timeless spiritual mysteries be colliding with Ryan at the center of it all? Can he really believe he had a past as a medieval heretic where he hid what has become known as the lost Cathar treasure, a manuscript containing the hidden truth underlying the universe? Can he trust a secret society that claims to need his help if science is to move forward?

photo: Kaktus
(Montsegur- Cathar stronghold until the final battle of 1244)

Not at first, but as events threaten his family, Ryan returns to southern France to find the document he once allegedly hid. In 1244, he watched two hundred of his countrymen burn as he and two others slipped away in the night carrying a manuscript the world desperately needs. Surrounding Ryan are members of the Green Laurel, back to ensure his safety. Also, back are the dark forces of the Church who want nothing more than to exterminate the remnants of the Cathars and the truth the future requires. Without the manuscript, science cannot advance. A single unified theory will never be found and, all along, Ryan’s very existence remains in peril.      

And although I’ve never had any luck with picture books, I’m currently circulating a manuscript with agents starring Mona Lisa. A cute story, but no bites yet!  

Click below to find my published books.

https://amzn.to/30oq1NL

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