Animas Forks

Case Study Name: Animas Forks

image: Anna MacLeod

Location: 12 miles north of Silverton on the alpine loop backcountry byway, San Juan County, Colorado, USA. Co-ordinates: 37°55′51″N 107°34′3″W

Initial Funding: Structures were stabilised in 1997 and 1998 with assistance from Colorado State Historical Fund Grants.

Ongoing Funding: No income; Animas Forks will be reliant on further grants, as necessary.

Organisations Involved: Managed by San Juan County and the Bureau of Land Management.

Description: Animas Forks is a popular, ghost mining town that sits on the Alpine Loop, a precipitous road that bumps between Lake City, Ouray and Silverton in the San Juan mountains in Colorado. The site is at around 11,000ft elevation, and is inaccessible in the winter.

The empty, wooden buildings have been preserved, and you can go inside them and see the structures. It is interesting to note the building styles. All personal traces of inhabitation are gone (I don’t know if they were removed deliberately), and the buildings feel clean. There is no glass in the windows, and since the site is not inhabited, I wonder if the glass has been removed for safety.

Visitors are welcome to make their own way around the site, and explore the buildings. When I went there I enjoyed the view of the town as we approached – but I wished there were more details to see once we had arrived. It is good that the site has been preserved for people to see, and it draws lots of people to visit.

By comparison the Ute Ulay has much more texture and detail to offer a visitor, as long as that can be made safely available. It could also be burdensome for the local Lake Citians to have to fundraise to keep the site open and safe – so the Ute Ulay should at least bring in enough revenue to pay for itself.