Did you know that Colorado is home to hundreds of historic ghost towns? These towns were once bustling stops during the gold rush era, where miners, explorers and pioneers conquered the Wild West. Unfortunately, most of these former ghost towns have collapsed into oblivion due to time, weather and pilfering over the past hundred plus years, with nothing more than a few timbers or an old piece of equipment remaining. If you’ve always had a hankering to explore these historic snapshots of way-back-when Colorado (but aren’t too keen on the dangers of splinters and tetanus, or lack a serious 4-wheel drive), there’s a local treasure you just have to experience — Ghost Town Museum in Colorado Springs. Here are five ways that you can experience the authentic Old West at Ghost Town Museum.
1. Stroll along the boardwalk of a preserved old west Town
The structures in the museum are true artifacts of the Old West, so when you visit, you’re seeing, touching and walking past the same structures the miners and pioneering settlers of Colorado once did. These buildings come from all over the Pikes Peak region and are preserved indoors for history fanatics to enjoy all year long. Even the huge stone building containing the museum is historic; it’s one of two remaining buildings from the unique Colorado Midland Railway that first drove standard gauge tracks into the Rocky mountains and is one of the oldest buildings in Colorado Springs, built in 1899. It’s a town contained indoors to preserve these artifacts from our gold rush heritage.
2.Pan for Gold Like An 1858’er
Gold was first discovered near Denver in 1858. At Ghost Town Museum, part of the Wild West experience is panning for gold! Grab an old tin gold pan and dig deep into troughs used for competitive placer panning. In 1858 before hard rock mountain mining evolved, placer mining, or gold panning in streams, was the method to find gold. Plenty of actual 24 carat 18 screen gold is introduced multiple times daily, and there’s always someone around to help young prospectors in training to find their own special, (if small), fortune. Panning is included in the admission, so there’s no extra cost for the fun. Gold panning is a favorite, can’t-miss activity for any lover of Colorado lore, so be sure to stop in and give it a try.
3. View Thousands of Old West Artifacts
You won’t just see cool old empty buildings at the Ghost Town Museum. It’s also filled with authentic artifacts, the things folks bought and used to make a living or live a life, straight from the 1800s. Everything from clothing and quilts to teacups and wagons can be found, including an incredibly rare Abbott and Downing, Concorde stagecoach that carried miners, travelers and paychecks throughout the Pikes Peak Region. Each building houses a business laid out exactly as they would have been used way back when. Check out how saloons, homes and stores looked and learn all about the types of items people used in their daily lives in Colorado a hundred years or more ago.
4.Try Some Fun Wild West Games and Activities
While panning for gold is super fun for kids, there are a lot of other activities. You can also test your skills as a marksman at the shootin’ gallery; operate old time musical nickelodeons, including an incredible automated Wurlitzer orchestrion, or watch the first “peep” machines before movies. Listen in on the antique “party line” telephone, get your name printed on a “Wanted” poster, or sit back and watch a short history of the gold rush era. Yep, there’s a ton of hands on stuff to see and do.
5. Bring a Bit of History Home
Wow, talk about a store. This place rates! Part of the experience at Ghost Town Museum is its museum store. A mercantile that harkens back to the true days this place evokes. Ice cold Sarsaparilla, (yes on ice!), is a store standard treat. Pick up sweet jam, old-fashioned candies, savory snacks, hurdy-gurdys and other old-time toys and other fun gifts from the era. Of course, there are also more modern Colorado souvenirs to be found, like t-shirts, coffee cups, jewelry and pottery, too. The store itself is worth the visit!
There’s no other place in Colorado where you can safely explore authentic ghost town structures filled with real frontier artifacts, pan for gold and finish it all off with old fashioned snacks and beverages. A true Colorado family experience. Visit the wild west at Ghost Town Museum!
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