The ghost town of Gilman, Colorado sits atop Battle Mountain overlooking Eagle Gulch. For nearly a century, mining operations poured so many toxic pollutants into the ecosystem that the EPA has declared the area off-limits.
According to the report, the pipeline delivers contaminated water from collection points near Eagle Mine to a water treatment plant. The EPA report mentions “Visible leaks in the mine water conveyance system in the wooden trestle as indicated by orange-colored icicles and staining on rocks and grass where leaks occur.”
I walked along the old unused railroad track that once hauled ore from the Eagle mines. Weeds pushed up through the gravel between the railroad ties and boulders had tumbled onto the rusting tracks.
A bypass line was built in 2010 when the trestle line froze, but it didn’t prevent further leaks from occurring. The EPA report states that an “incident occurred in November 2012, when approximately 400,000 gallons of raw water were released to the area due to a rupture in the conveyance system.”
A short while later, I reached the base of Battle Mountain and found the entrances to several mines, which were sealed off. Given the toxicity of the area and the danger of old mines, I had no intention of exploring them anyway.
There are a number of mines in the area, including Ida May, Little Duke, Ground Hog, Iron Mask, May Queen, Kingfisher, Little Chief, Crown Point, and Little Ollie. But the most famous is Belden Mine and Eagle mine, which were established in 1879. According to the EPA, the network of mines includes “an estimated 70 miles of underground mine tunnels”, from which an astonishing 8 million tons of mine waste was excavated and deposited into the ecosystem.
Eagle Mine was one of the largest zinc mines in the United States and produced over 12 million tons of ore over the years. Zinc from Eagle mine was especially important for the war effort during WWII. Massive amounts of gold, silver, copper, and lead were also excavated.
The New Jersey Zinc Company began buying up property in 1912, eventually purchasing the entire town of Gilman and all of the mines.
Most of the mining operations ceased in December of 1977, except for limited copper and silver production. In 1984, it closed for good. The pumps were deactivated and the mine was allowed to flood.
Shortly thereafter, the EPA declared the area a Superfund site due to the massive amounts of pollutants that had been released into the ecosystem and placed it on the National Priorities List. CBS Operations, Inc. (yep, the same CBS that owns the television network) was deemed responsible for the cleanup of the site. It seems odd, but it makes sense. Apparently, CBS bought Viacom International, Inc., which owned controlling shares of New Jersey Zinc Company, which operated the mine.
Abandoned Gilman is 1000 feet above the mine entrances and would have been a very steep climb. Fortunately, I was able to hike up the Rock Creek, which was mostly dry, except for a few trickles of water. The stones along the riverbed were encrusted in white mineral deposits.
I reached Gilman Ghost Town tired and out of breath, but was immediately invigorated by the sight of several rows of abandoned homes.
I ducked into the basement of the nearest house and had a look around.
The houses were mostly empty and many were badly weathered. It didn’t help that most of the windows had been smashed.
A few odds and ends were still lying around in a few of the homes, including an iron that looked very much like one my grandma used to have.
Most of the homes had excellent views.
The homes had coal chutes and were heated by furnaces.
I found it ironic that this furnace bore the name “Solar National.”
Gilman was founded in 1886 by prospector John Clinton and was originally named after him. The name was later changed to Gilman in honor of Henry Gilman, a well-liked superintendent of the Iron Mask Mine. In 1899 the town was decimated by fire, in which half of the structures were destroyed.
I strolled through the quiet neighborhood in a state of awe. It looked like it was once a beautiful little community.
Now the porches are sagging and decrepit.
Pine trees grow up through cracks in the asphalt. Nature always finds a way.
It is strange to think that children once lived here and school buses passed through the crumbling roads.
The most prominent feature of the abandoned town is the ore processing facility.
A large section of the building is in the midst of collapsing in on itself.
There are also quite a few little structures that house emergency fire fighting equipment. Vandals have opened them all up and pulled out the hoses.
A row of garages contains trash, furniture, and several old cars covered in graffiti.
It was still early when the sky turned black, but the day’s exertion had worn me out. I took a few pictures of the administration buildings in the waning light. After the sun disappeared, it quickly became old and windy outside, so I sought shelter.
The stunning photos of an abandoned mining town Gilman 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, then check out our articles on the Forgotten Zzyzx Road and Health Spa Ruins and the Abandoned Movie Ranch in Acton, California