Latitude / Longitude:
39°6′23″N 106°36′19″W / 39.10639°N 106.60528°W / 39.10639
Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
Independence is a ghost town in the U.S. state of Colorado. It is located just off State Highway 82 in the eastern corner of Pitkin County, below the Continental Divide. It was the first settlement established in the Roaring Fork Valley, after gold was struck in the vicinity on Independence Day, July 4, 1879, hence its name.
In 1973 it was recognized as a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Independence and Independence Mill Site, one of two ghost towns in the county so recognized. It has also been known historically by other names—Chipeta, Mammoth City, Mount Hope, Farwell, Sparkill and Hunter’s Pass.
It has been a ghost town since at least 1912. The remaining structures, all log cabins of various sizes, are now on land partially in White River National Forest. It is one of the few abandoned mining camps in the state where any buildings are left. In the late 20th century they were restored and interpretive materials added.
Like other early settlements in the upper Roaring Fork Valley, it lost population over the course of the decade as Aspen emerged as the ideal location for commerce in the region, and then became the county seat. It was never able to overcome the severe winters that resulted from its location at a high elevation in the mountains, and at the end of the 19th century all but one of the remaining residents abandoned Independence en masse after a particularly heavy snowstorm to settle in Aspen.