I awoke in the basement of an abandoned office building. I had found shelter from the biting cold winds after exploring the abandoned neighborhood (Check out my pictures from Day 1 here).
[Disclaimer: After posting this article, I have been informed that Gilman and Belden are on private property and should not be entered without express permission from the owner.]
The sun emerged from behind the mountains and a new day dawned over the deserted streets of Gilman, Colorado.
In the morning light I got a clear view of the building I had called home for the night.
And then I headed back inside to finish exploring it.
I headed past the reception desk and into the office area.
Wood-framed walls divided the main floor into offices, conference rooms and work area, giving it a distinguished feel that is missing from the stark, cubicle-filled office layouts of today.
I love finding old paperwork, and there was plenty of it lying around. Unfortunately most of it was scattered on the floor.
When I find handwritten notes I can't help but try to imagine the person who wrote them.
Several vault-like rooms contained shelves stacked with books of old records.
The New Jersey Zinc Company apparently left all its paperwork behind when it vacated Gilman. There was an unbelievable amount of sensitive information lying around, including financial records, payroll records, medical records.
A lot of office equipment got left behind too, including gadgets I've never seen before, probably because they've been made obsolete by computers.
|An old Addressograph machine|
As I exited the office building, I ran into a guy in his 20s. He said he lives in Denver and was exploring Gilman with a large group. They'd camped out on the street just after sundown. I must have gone inside just before they set up for the night. He told me they ran into an older woman earlier that day who once lived there. She ended up giving his group a tour of the town. I realized my friend Caroline, whom I was supposed to meet up with the previous day, had seen them just before she left. For a ghost town, there sure were a lot of people there!
After we went our separate ways, I checked out the recreation center. It had a two-lane bowling alley.
In the gym/theater, someone had set up a large skateboarding ramp in front of the stage and one by the door. It seems appropriate that the room is being used for athletic activities again.
It was neat to imagine the place when it was still alive with people, yet sad to think that Gilman will never know such times again.
Or will it? According to an article in The New York Times, the site may be redeveloped. Edward R. Ginn, a real estate developer, bought Gilman and 5,300 acres of adjacent land for $32 million in 2004, intending to turn it into a $4 billion ski resort. Apparently Ginn would be protected by federal legislation passed in 2002, which limits liability for landowners who develop land that was polluted by previous owners.
It seems unlikely that any development will occur in the near future. According to the EPA website:
"EPA and CDPHE expect to issue a proposed plan in 2016 that will identify the agencies’ preferred cleanup alternative from those described in the feasibility study. The public will be invited to comment on the proposed plan before a final decision is made."
Weathered garages and workshops sit on the edge of town with windows broken and walls tagged.
Some of the graffiti actually looked pretty good.
The workshops and storage sheds contained old products that you don't see in stores these days.
One of the more disturbing artifacts was this oil smoke generator embossed with the words "Chemical Warfare Service U.S.A."
A few vehicles and pieces of heavy machinery remained in the garages.
An old clothing washer sat out in the middle of the cracked pavement
One of the most fascinating places was an old medical building that housed a laboratory and medical imaging equipment.
Countless x-rays were scattered across the floor on the ground level.
As I was looking at the discarded x-rays I ran into a group of two guys and two gals, all in their 20s. Nice people. We talked for a little while and they recommended I check out the mining structures at the base of the mountain.
I decided to take their advice, but first I had to have a closer look at the ore processing facility in the center of town.
I was not daring enough to follow the ladder underground.
The ground floor offered a glimpse into the daily life of the employees.
The locker room had dozens of chains suspended from the ceiling with hooks and baskets on the ends.
Satisfied that I'd seen just about everything of interest in Gilman, I headed down the mountain to check out the old mining structures of Eagle and Belden mines. They were truly spectacular. Click here to see them.
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