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Exploring Gilman: Colorado’s Toxic Ghost Town


Gilman, Colorado, located near Vail in Eagle County, is a haunting reminder of the town’s past as a thriving mining community.​ Today, it stands as a toxic ghost town, abandoned due to environmental contamination.​ In this article, we will explore the history of Gilman, the reasons behind its decline, and the current state of this eerie and intriguing place.​

A Once Thriving Mining Town

Gilman was established in 1886 during the height of the Colorado silver boom.​ The town was named after Henry Gilman٫ a respected superintendent of the Iron Mask Mine.​ It quickly became a bustling community and at its peak٫ had a population of around 300 residents.​

The Rise of Contamination

Unfortunately, the same mining operations that brought prosperity to Gilman also led to its downfall.​ The extraction of valuable minerals resulted in the release of toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the environment.​ The ground and water sources became severely contaminated, posing a danger to the residents.​

In 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an order to close down Gilman due to the hazardous conditions.​ The town was declared a Superfund site, a designation given to areas with significant environmental damage. The cleanup efforts began in 1986 and continued until 2000, when the EPA declared that substantial progress had been made.​

A Toxic Ghost Town Today

Today, Gilman remains a ghost town, devoid of any permanent residents.​ The abandoned structures and remnants of a once-thriving community serve as a stark reminder of the toxic legacy left behind by mining operations.​ Visiting Gilman is strictly prohibited without express permission from the owner, as it is located on private property.

Exploring Gilman would reveal the skeletal remains of buildings and infrastructure that once supported a flourishing town.​ The eerie silence and the traces of its past create an atmosphere akin to a haunting ghost town.​

Visiting Colorado’s Ghost Towns

Gilman is not the only ghost town in Colorado.​ The state is home to numerous abandoned mining communities that offer a unique opportunity to experience the past.​ Exploring these ghost towns can be a thrilling and educational adventure, but it’s important to respect private property and obtain the necessary permissions before visiting any of these sites.​

Some nearby ghost towns worth exploring include Camp Hale, Leadville Capitol City, and Caribou.​ Each of these towns has its own fascinating history and unique character, providing a glimpse into the past while surrounded by the natural beauty of Colorado.​

The Importance of Preserving History

While toxic ghost towns like Gilman may seem eerie and unsettling, they serve as a reminder of the environmental consequences of industrial activities.​ Preserving and documenting these sites is crucial to understanding our past and learning from our mistakes. They also hold valuable historical and cultural significance, showcasing the lives and struggles of communities that once thrived in these areas.​

As avid explorers, it is our responsibility to approach these sites with respect, tread lightly, and appreciate the stories they tell.​ By doing so, we can ensure that the legacy of these ghost towns lives on for future generations to learn from and admire.​