Latitude / Longitude:
39°3′16″N 106°47′52″W / 39.05444°N 106.79778°W / 39.05444
Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
Ashcroft, originally known as Castle Forks City then Chloride until 1882, was a mining town located ten miles (16 km) south of Aspen, Colorado, United States. A few buildings remain standing as a testament to the town’s past.
In the spring of 1880 two prospectors, Charles B. Culver and W.F. Coxhead left the mining boomtown of Leadville in search of silver deposits in the Castle Creek Valley. Silver was found and Coxhead promoted their discovery with zeal back in Leadville. When he returned to “Castle Forks City,” as it had been dubbed, he found that 23 other prospectors had joined “Crazy Culver.” Together the men formed a Miners’ Protective Association, built a courthouse and laid out the streets in Ashcroft in just two weeks. Each of their association’s members paid $5, or one day’s work, and $1, to draw for building lots. In all there were 97 members in the Ashcroft Miners’ Protective Association.
By 1885 there were only 100 summer residents and $5.60 in the town coffers. By the turn of the 20th century, only a handful of aging, single men lived in Ashcroft. Though they all owned mining claims they spent most of their time fishing and hunting or reading and drinking in a local bar. The men traded stories for drinks and served as an informal employment agency, matching up men with the sporadic remaining work at the mines. Every four years the remaining citizens would hold municipal elections and choose officers from amongst themselves. The town’s last resident, Jack Leahy, died in 1939, making Ashcroft an official ghost town.
The town was renamed Ashcroft in 1882 after a rich ore strike was uncovered in Montezuma and Tam O’Shanter Mines. The mines were partially owned by H.A.W. Tabor of Leadville mining fame. Reportedly, Tabor and his second wife visited Ashcroft in 1883 and hosted a grand ball and banquet. Tabor also reportedly bought rounds of drinks for everyone in each of the town’s 13 saloons.