The Slumbering Remains of Ironton Townsite

Photo of two story victorian house

Image courtesy of Daniel Ter-Nedden  (

The slumbering remains of Ironton outside of Ouray, Colorado, were once home to many miners who worked the mines in the mountains surrounding Ironton Park and the neighboring towns of Guston and Red Mountain. Ironton's mines made their wealth from silver and lead at first. In 1893, the Silver Panic brought a bust and put an end to silver mining. Mines began to close one by one. After a few years, mining activity picked up when in 1898, gold was discovered in nearly the same ores as the silver, and many of these mines, like the Yankee Girl, American Girl, Colorado Boy, Treasury, Genessee-Vanderbilt, and others were re-opened. Mining camps boomed again for a few decades.  

A few mines remained open until the 1950s, and the Idarado Mining Company still manages its tunnel at the head of Ironton Park today; However, most of the camps and mines were mostly deserted by 1930. The last remaining resident and “Mayor”of Ironton, Milton Larson, passed away in the 1960’s when the town officially became a ghost town.

In 1938, investors in Ouray built a ski lodge for the new fangled sport of downhill skiing, but it never opened to the public and around 1950 it was sold to the Saint Germain Foundation for a religious retreat. The stone garage on the east side of Highway 550 was built at that time.

Ironton townsite on the east side of Highway 550 is mostly public land (Forest Service and county), and open to the public. If you go, spend some time and wander through the trees, and you may be surprised what can be found.

During winter, the Ouray volunteer Nordic ski group grooms a ski trail leading to and around the scattered remnant ruins, following the original railroad grade and accessing a two-story abandoned Victorian house, the restored Colorado Boy Hoist House, the Albany/Saratoga Mine smelter ruins, the Larson Brothers mine office on the west side of the highway, and other sites all in the shadow of the Idarado Mining Company’s enormous “rehabbed” mine tailings piles.

The public is also welcome to stroll around Crystal Lake on the west side of Highway 550, following the route of the original Mears Toll Road that connected Ouray and Silverton in the 1800s. From this trail one may view water birds, snowshoe hares, deer, and occasionally moose and elk.