Manhattan, Colorado

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Manhattan is a ghost town located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in northwestern Larimer County, Colorado, United States. The town was founded in 1886 as a gold mining camp, during the height of the Colorado Silver Boom. The town never experienced great prosperity, however, and had largely vanished by the early 20th century. The town was largely dismantled in the 1930s, and virtually nothing remains of it today.

History[edit]

The early Colorado Gold Rush of 1859 had largely bypassed Larimer County, at the northern end of the Front Range in northern Colorado. However in August 1886 two experienced prospectors of the Fort Collins Mining Company, Isaac R. Blevins and John DuBois, discovered gold in the creeks north of the Poudre. News of the discovery brought a flood of prospectors to the area, and by October of that year, 125 claims had been recorded. The camp had a population of approximately 100, most living in tents. The camp included a hotel, meat market, blacksmith shop, general store, livery stable, and saloon. The Fort Collins Courier reported that month that the area had "well-defined veins", with free milling ore containing gold and silver. A test sample brought back to Fort Collins tested nearly 800 USD per ton.

Despite the promise of riches, local businessmen in Fort Collins were largely skeptical and reluctant to back further mining enterprises in the area. Nevertheless, by November, enough capital had been raised to begin mining.

The following year in 1887, the town population stabilized. The early gold mining operations brought modest success, despite the lack of a mother lode. Based on initial optimism, a town plat and surveying were completed, with the expectation that the town would soon grow from several hundred to 5,000 and would rival Fort Collins.

The inability of the miners to find a rich lode, coupled with the increasing costs as the mines were sunk deeper, severely eroded the profitability of the operations. During the next two years capital was difficult to raise, and the population declined. Transportation was a continuing difficulty, as the town was accessible only by steep roads. Optimism swept the town again in 1890 with the discovery of a vein that assayed 420 USD per ton. The town population grew once again, and a schoolhouse was built with an enrollment of 20 students. The years 1890 to 1892 saw the height of the town.

In 1892, with the mines reaching 100 feet in depth, the town suffered its first mining disaster, killing two well-respected miners. In 1893 it was discovered that the gold concentrations were diminishing as the mine shafts deepened. By 1896 many miners were selling their claims, and production and transportation costs were making the remaining operations largely unprofitable. The town population had dwindled to 50 prospectors. An unexpected discovery of gold along a bend in the Poudre River that year again revived the town, and by 1898, the population had risen back to nearly 300. The optimism quickly tapered off, however, and the population declined again, with only small occasional strikes to keep up the hopes of those who remained. After the promise of a gold strike in 1911 faded, the town was largely abandoned. In 1930, the Civilian Conservation Corps set up a camp near the site (by then within the Roosevelt National Forest, erecting several new temporary structures. In 1933, the site was completely dismantled by order of United States Forest Service.

Geography[edit]

The town is at an elevation of 8474 feet (2583m), at 40°43′56″N 105°36′00″W / 40.73222°N 105.60000°W / 40.73222; -105.60000.[1] It was four miles north of Rustic, Colorado, north of the Poudre Canyon and west of Red Feather Lakes, about halfway between Elkhorn Creek and Seven Mile Creek, in the valley of a tributary of Elkhorn Creek called Manhattan Creek.

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