By Dimitri Berger, staff writer
Movies and shows focused around an apocalypse give us a chance to imagine a world where society has collapsed and what happens to the structures we built long after we’re gone. It is truly haunting to imagine walking through an abandoned mall, or perhaps a lone house where a family used to live. However, you can get a taste of these movies by just looking around the area you live, chances are there is an abandoned building for you to explore.
What is Urbex? Urban exploring, or urbex for short, is a term generally used for the act of exploring abandoned or off-limit areas in urban environments. It is a fun hobby for many, but it can also be a dangerous one due to a building’s decay, security and other measures to keep people out. Here’s a list of 10 places you can “urbex” here in Colorado, with minimal harm to yourself.
1. Teller City, CO was a boom town that was founded in 1879 and boomed to a max population of 1800 by 1882. The town was built next to a silver mine and housed a 40 room hotel, 27 saloons and hundreds of log cabins. In 1884, the price of silver dropped dramatically causing all of the residents to abandon the town in a few months. What stands today isn’t much besides collapsed remnants of a few cabins, but it could be a fun hike and scenery spot due to how remote the location is.
2. Penrose St. Francis Clinical Pastoral Education Center was once a hospital founded in Colorado Spring in 1887 to serve patients living in Downtown Colorado Springs at the time. It merged with Penrose hospital in 1989, giving it the current name it has today. The location stopped treating trauma patients five years after the merger and mentally ill patients in 2010. It closed at the end of that year and has stood abandoned since. There are medical records and old equipment reported to still be within the building, along with a silent alarm system that triggers if anyone is in the premises.
3. The Skagway Power Plant was constructed from 1899 to 1901 and operated until 1965 when 15 days of nonstop rain destroyed much of the building’s infrastructure, leading the company to abandon the hydroelectric plant. The main plant and four other smaller buildings still stand in the area and is considered a difficult hike.
4. Crystal Mill, or the Old Mill, is an 1892 wooden powerhouse that is located above the Crystal River in Crystal, CO. It is a historical site and is not quite abandoned as other sites on this list but it’s a beautiful spot where visitors can explore and view the wonderful scenery of Colorado’s wilderness.
5. The Pacific Starlight Dinner Trains ran from 1997 to 2002 in Canon City, CO before six cars were sold for nearly one million dollars for the Polar Bear Express in 2003. Four cars were never sold and sit abandoned across the tracks that run parallel to Royal Gorge Blvd. They are in the open with no cover, and it is unclear if there is security, so it is best to be cautious when exploring these once-luxury train cars.
6. Rosedale Elementary School in Denver, CO was closed in 2005 due to low attendance. It sat abandoned for 15 years until the Catholic Archdiocese had interest in buying it. There are currently no updates on the purchasing of the building, but it is safe to assume that there is constant security roaming the site to keep unwanted individuals out.
7. Carson and Old Carson Ghost Towns are located on the Continetal Divide, and both were once mining towns situated on the east and west side of the Divide before they had to shut down production due to harsh winters at their elevations. Getting to the towns is a rough drive, but the sights are more than worth it.
8. Heritage Square Amusement Park, founded in 1959 until its closing in 2018, is located off Colfax Ave. in Golden. It was home to one of the largest alpine slides in the state, which could be seen from the highway. Sadly, the slide was demolished when the park closed, but there are many buildings still standing today.
9. The Titan 1 Missile Silos were Cold War era missile silos until 1965 when the technology outpaced the structure of the silo itself. There are four in Aurora and one in Elizabeth and Deer Trail. Make sure to bring gas masks, lights, ear protection and rope when exploring these sites.
10. The Leadville Silver Mine is the spot where the Colorado Silver Boom began, and while it was originally built for gold, the town swapped to silver and mined it until the end of WWII when the citizens left to find more stable incomes. The mines are mostly collapsed today, but there are certain spots where you can explore, but be careful, mine exploration is dangerous. DO NOT GO ALONE.
Colorado has many more places to explore and see the effects of nature taking back its land, just remember to be respectful of each site and to stay safe when exploring.