Here's the second installment of my little travelogue from Vail Colorado. For this one, we focus on a site just west of Vail Colorado, close to the small town of Minturn...
On the side of the road, clinging to the side of jagged cliffs, you catch a glimpse of something that initially looks like nothing out of the ordinary. A handful of houses and buildings. But look closer, and you see it's completely abandoned.
It's the abandoned mining town of Gilman, CO. For years, the town dumped waste from the mine into their local river. Until they realized one day that there weren't any fish to be caught anymore - all the pollution had killed them off and made the river too toxic a place for them to thrive.
So, the first step they took was to put the problem "out of sight, out of mind" and send the waste down-river. Make it the next town's problem. They built this elevated pipe system to do the job:
You can still see the red-color in the river in that picture. It takes a very long time for toxic waste to disappear.
Eventually, the EPA gave an order to the town to evacuate and abandon, and that's what they did. Here's the old mine itself:
Once the town was evacuated, it became a superfund site. It's completely off-limits now:
Looking down the street you can see how life once was pretty normal here. Apparently the houses still have furniture in them and look like they were hastily left - because that's exactly what happened. Once the townspeople knew the extent of the problems and were ordered to leave, they didn't waste much time.
Time and the elements have taken their toll on the buildings.
It's really a shame how we can allow economics to lead to things like polluting an entire town out of existence. Let's just hope the mistakes of the past don't get repeated.