Roamin’ the Range
While it is still a little early to begin exploring much of the Colorado high country, especially by foot, it’s never too early to begin making plans. If the idea of visiting a ghost town sparks your imagination, consider a trip to the site of Manhattan, about 45 miles west of Fort Collins.
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In 1887, prospectors found gold ore between Seven Mile and Elkhorn creeks resulting in a gold rush and the filing of more than 300 claims in the area. Within months Manhattan had a hotel, a post office, stores, a saloon, a school, a newspaper and a stage coach connecting it to Fort Collins. While some reports suggest that Manhattan had a population as high as 4,000, historian Kenneth Jessen believes 200 is a more likely population estimate for this little town with such a surprising name.
Despite high hopes and early reports of valuable ore, the town never lived up to expectations. Today little remains of the short-lived boom town. By 1898 the town had been abandoned but its mayor, B. F. Burnett did not give up easily. He stayed in his cabin in the deserted town until the 1930s. In the 1940s, the forest service declared the remaining cabins a fire hazard and burned them down.
A few remnants and three grave markers remain. Most famous is the marker for Rattlesnake Jack, a latter-day mountain man who spent most of his life in the area.
Reach Manhattan by driving north on highway 287 to Red Feather Lakes Road (a left turn at Forks Hotel) go 17 miles and turn left onto 68C for 6.9 miles to turn right on Manhattan Road. This road is not maintained and may be impassable until late spring. Site is on the left in one mile. Look to the right, up the hill above the cattle crossing and see signs of the old cemetery. Less than a mile from the burial ground find a dirt road to the left, once the main street of Manhattan. As you wander around, use your imagination to envision a once bustling little town.
There are plenty of ghost towns to explore in the hills of Colorado. Check out close by Lulu City, Teller City, and Dearfield.