The rural highways of Southern Colorado meander through a harsh landscape where abandoned homes and businesses stand as crumbling monuments to the broken dreams of those that once lived there.
Several interesting sights caught my eye, and I ended up staying in Trinidad longer than anticipated. Just off the freeway I spotted a cluster of mysterious old brick buildings on large piece of land.
I drove through the neighborhood and parked to take a few pictures. One of the neighbors was getting home just as I arrived, so I asked him if he knew anything about the old buildings. He didn’t have any concrete information about them, but believed the site had once been a farm, and at one point had housed military personnel.
I was dying to get a closer look, but my hopes were dashed when I came to a gate with no trespassing signs.
I settled for a few low-quality zoomed-in shots and then got back on the road.
On the way out of town I spotted a few other neat old buildings and snapped a few quick shots from the road.
I had a long drive ahead of me, but was determined to reach an abandoned schoolhouse in the rural community of Tyrone before dark. About twenty miles from Trinidad I passed a sign for the oddly named town of Model, Colorado. I hadn’t planned on stopping there, but an abandoned store caught my eye, and I could resist pulling over for a closer look.
I walked down the dirt road and caught sight of a desolate little town full of decaying buildings.
My heart pounded as I roamed the town, taking in the unexpected beauty of the place. It was one of those torturous moments that simultaneously filled me with wonder and frustration. I wanted to explore the entire place, but the sky was darkening and I knew it would be impossible to see everything before the remaining daylight faded away.
There were many abandoned homes in Model, ranging form one room shacks to full-sized houses.
Many of the homes still had possessions in them, like this cute little shack with a chair, a sink, a fridge, a stove, some shelves, and not much else.
While running around to the different properties I encountered a feral cat outside that almost looked like a bobcat. It was pretty big and brown with black accents on its fur. When it saw me, it moved, but then stood there watching me from a couple yards away. It had been well concealed in the scrub before I disturbed it. It didn’t act pissed or anything, so I just continued on my way.
The only homes that still seemed to be inhabited were on the far side of town. One or two porch lights shone in the distance, and the urgent barking of a dog carried through the cold evening air. The dog, unaccustomed to visitors, continued to bark the whole time I was there.
There was no graffiti anywhere in the town. And all the damage done to the structures was the result of weather – mostly in the form of dripping ceilings and the weakened flooring that follows.
It got dark very quickly, so I used the hell out of my flash. The camera I had at the time wasn’t great at handling low light conditions, so most of the pictures ended up very grainy.
A few abandoned vehicles and trailers sat rusting in the yards.
An old car propped up on a stack of wood reminded me of the Ghostbusters car.
I didn’t go into many of the structures, mainly because of time considerations, but I did take a look inside one house near the highway, adjoined to a shuttered mechanic shop.
The place was in bad shape. Water from thawing snow dripped continuously from a damaged ceiling. Clothes still hung in the closet.
Appliances, light fixtures, and a few odds and ends remained in the kitchen.
It looked like someone had come in and sorted through many of the deceased’s possessions and gathered them in the living room.
A junk room/workshop was cluttered with machine parts and equipment.
The living room was huge and contained some interesting artifacts including an oscilloscope,
a set of encyclopedias,
a bunk bed,
a homemade bookshelf,
and a pressure cooker.
A whiteboard listed several items and their estimated cash value, most of them quite low. The camper, valued at $100 was still parked in the backyard.
I imagined the former resident of the house as a self-sufficient do-it-yourself type of guy, who didn’t care much about appearances. I felt a little sad that the life he made for himself was now sitting in perpetual decay, discarded by his next of kin.
With a name like Model, I expected there to be an interesting story behind the town, but my research turned up surprisingly little information about the place. The region was home to local farming and was gradually abandoned due to competition from corporate farms and devastating droughts. I continued up the dark Colorado highway until I reached Tyrone, a tiny unincorporated community with barely anything in it. I stopped at a very old mechanic shop along the highway.
I have no idea when it was built or when it closed, but it is in a very advanced state of decay, literally coming apart at the seams. One room was filled with a huge pile of tumbleweed.
No artifacts remained, but I found the place incredibly interesting.
Nearby is an old schoolhouse. A piece of construction equipment sat outside, so it might be under renovation.
But work hadn’t started yet when I was there. A lot of junk was piled up in the schoolroom.
And the basement contained several old desks, which appeared to be the only school-related artifacts left.
I left Tyrone and continued north through the darkness, finally stopping outside Denver to get a good night’s rest. I could hardly wait for the morning when I would experience the most highly anticipated exploration of the entire road trip: an abandoned Titan I missile silo complex.
The stunning photos were taken by Jim Sullivan. Jim Sullivan is a traveler, who shares his stories with followers. If you’d like to see more abandoned places in America, then check out our articles on the Abandoned Golf Course in Willcox, Arizona, and the Iconic and abandoned Paper Mills in New Jersey