What is better for October than a ghost town? Maybe pumpkin spice and hot tea but it is a close call. To get to this town please note that you will be driving on dirt and gravel roads. St. Elmo is an interesting ghost town for a few reasons:
- It was abandon essentially overnight when the railroad company literally took up the tracks.
- It was then purchased by siblings who rented out the cabins to visitors and hunters, thus maintaining the buildings.
- It has a very active mercantile store for a ghost town.
- The only full time residents are chipmunks.
- St. Elmo is one of the best preserved ghost towns.
St. Elmo is free to visit but they do appreciate purchases from the store and donations both of which help to fund the preservation and reconstruction of the buildings. The chipmunks are a big draw to this tiny town far back in the mountains on a gravel road. Chipmunks love unsalted sunflower seeds but don’t worry about bringing your own, a small bag can be purchased in the store for $0.50.
Chipmunk Feeding Guidelines:
- Do not forget that these are wild animals.
- Do not try to catch or squeeze them as they will bite.
- Be calm and don’t make any sudden movements and they will happily climb all over you, as long as you have food.
- Don’t feed or pet the tree squirrel and he is a jerk and unfriendly.
I am not being mean to the squirrel, the sign does call him that. There are actually a variety of critters that come visit for sunflower seeds. They look similar but are all distinct species.
- Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel
- Richardson’s Ground Squirrel
- Squirrel (jerk)
After enjoying the adorableness of the chipmunks it is time to explore the rest of the town. As I mentioned earlier this town is very well preserved. There is another ghost town, Hancock, about 5 miles up the road that we visited and almost all of the materials from that town have either rotted away or been repurposed over the years.
You can go into a couple of the buildings and learn a fairly detailed history and the preservation work that has been done to keep it standing along with future plans for the buildings that still need to be worked on. It is a long drive to St. Elmo but you can get drinks and snacks at the mercantile store and there are restrooms just up the road. However, there are no gas stations close so make sure the tank is full before heading out to this old mining town.
We really enjoy our visit to St. Elmo. I’d like to come back to the area, partly to feed the chipmunks but also because there are a lot of hiking trails in the on the way to St. Elmo and we only had time to hike one.
Have you ever visited St. Elmo before? If yes, what did you think? Let me know in the comments. Leave no trace and safe travels.
Thank you KW Photography for allowing me to use your wonderful photos!
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