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Bonanza Colorado Townsite Ghost town

 Photos Mike Sinnwell - Fall 2003

 At one time this town boasted -  four smelters, nineteen mills, four hotels, forty saloons, a  motion picture theater, two schools, a post office, a 1,200 foot tunnel, a baseball team and of course one house of ill repute on the top of a hill.

A reader writes in - Hi: When I feel lonely during this time of the winter season, all I have to do is check this site to see my favorite Colorado small town of Bonanza. I miss my log hill mountain cabin over looking the beautiful village of Bonanza. Fabian from Albuquerque, NM

A viewer writes - I am looking forward to my trip to Bonanza . . . my fiancée and I will be married there on the 7th of September (Friday!) 2007 - James, Ponca City, Okla.

A viewer writes - My family has 2 cabins on main street in Bonanza. Can't believe some of the cabins are still standing and the creek doesn't look orange anymore. My sister and I used to throw rocks and walk around in that creek. I haven't been back to Bonanza in over 7 years. When I was a kid we went to Bonanza every summer. Thanks for sharing your pictures I enjoyed your website. - Susan from Broken Arrow, Okla.

A viewer writes - 12/2008 - I try to visit Bonanza when I get back to Colorado, especially if my kids are with me.  My family lived there for a year or so back in the mid 1950's. My dad, with a few others worked for Buster Johnson in a couple of old played out silver mines.  Fond memories of an era gone by. Thom Clark

A viewer writes July 2009 -  Just found your website.  It's great! I loved seeing your pictures and reading the comments about Bonanza.  My brother and I were born in Salida and we lived in Bonanza at the time.  I had grandparents, 3 aunts and uncles, and lots of first cousins living there at the time.  My family all mined.  My grandfather had a mine called the Maybelle which is just below Round Mountain.  My father died before I was born and my step father fell in love with Bonanza.  He bought a cabin for $200.00 plus $50.00 back taxes in the mid 50's.  It is still there (in very poor condition)along with the outhouse and the bridge crossing the creek.  (I too threw rocks in the creek when it was polluted from the mines.  It has now been cleaned up and it now supports fish.) I was disappointed that you had not taken a picture of our cabin.  It is really quite picturesque.  The cabin is white with my dad's Texas license plate over it that reads "BALTAR".  I was wondering if you had possibly taken a picture of it as well.  I could send you some photos that I just took the first of July with some commentary.  You have a picture of my grandfather's home.  I just love Bonanza and when I go there, I feel reconnected to my roots.  Margaret, Lake Jackson, TX.

A viewer writes - November 30th 2009 - Does anybody remember the Slaughterhouse Creek commune in Bonanza from about 1970-1980? Richard  Minneapolis

A viewer writes -  Monday 3/29 2010 -- Ever run across the name Starr Bowen in your bonanza information? he was a friend of mine in salida back in the early '70s.  miles f. porter iv  Frisco, Colorado

A viewer writes Tuesday September 7, 2010 - Howdy, I just came across your web sight on Bonanza Colorado. My name is Michael Raymond, And I have just found out That Bonanza is my grandfathers birth place. I'm in the process of building a family history book, I was wondering if you have come across anything on the Raymond family in Bonanza? Any help would be much appreciated.  Thanks, Michael Raymond

A viewer writes - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - My family grew up in Walsenburg and today we had a great time exchanging emails  and figuring out that Bonanza is the ghost town in the NY Times article.

ROCKY SAYS you are correct, follow the link to read the article.

A viewer writes Sunday April 17th 2011 -  The photos of the Bonanza area are wonderful.  My grandmother was born(1902)and grew up in Bonanza, CO.  Planning a vacation out there this summer to take photos and visit the surrounding area.  My great grandfather was a miner.  My grandma wrote a biography/history of the area.  Lots of names are mentioned including the "Raymond" ranch.  Ben was the youngest, Mae, an older sister.  One of your readers was looking for information on the Raymond family. I'd be happy to share.

A viewer writes -  Monday, April 25, 2011 - Great site. I am George Raymond in Huntington Beach CA. My Grandfather Jameg George Raymond and Great Grandfather John Raymond were miners in and around Bonanza CO. I will be in Bonanza in July 2011 looking for information on the Raymond family, I have came across pictures of Ivy Raymond at the cabin in Bonanza and of James at the mine near Bonanza. I am willing to share what I have with others. George

A viewer writes -- Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - My name is George Raymond of Huntington Beach CA. On your Bonanza page, entry April 17th, 2011 is a person with information on the Raymond Ranch and the Raymonds in Bonanza. I would love to make contact and shair information. My Great Grandparents were John Raymond and Mary Casteel. They had Everett, Maud, Mary, John, James (My Grandfather), Laura, Thomas, Sanford, and Robert. James died the month befor my dad was born. My Grandmother Ivy Bryant Raymond moved the family to Laport CO after James death. Thanks for any help. Also would like information on the book their Grandmother wrote.

A viewer writes - Tuesday, May 10, 2011-- People from or with roots to Bonanza, I stumbled across your site and find it fascinating.  If you are doing any kind of family research, you may want to consider that back in the olden days a lot of people didn't know how to read or write.  I have been reading some of the posts that have been made on this site and believe that some of your "Raymond" relatives may have had their names spelled differently, such as "Remine" and "Reymann" Good Luck!!!

A viewer writes - Tuesday October 4th 2011 - I'm Chris Furney.  My extended family incl the Beals hunted and had cabins back in there.  Ha SURE I remember the hippie commune on slaughterhouse creek, and I seem to remember the goofy cabin overlooking town.  I just re-did the paperwork on Granpa's old aqua claim in the Gorge between Pueblo and Bonanza.  Ha anybody know where there's a leftover stamp mill?  (smile)  But they're using Fernleaf Gulch to bottle up the ATV park they're building through the uranium deposits down there.  It's all plastic and infested with spotted owls these days.  Ha I also remember riding motorcycles through the yellow sulfur flats too...

A viewer writes -  Sunday, December 18, 2011 --  My fiancée and I traveled to Villa Grove, Colo. from Ponca City, Okla. to marry. We chose to marry on what was (likely) the main street of the ghost town of Exchequerville, one mile from Bonanza.  All that remains in Exchequerville today is the cemetery and a Forest Service building. It was beautiful and private, and the only guest was a chipmunk.

The next day we left Villa Grove and took the Forest Service road out of Bonanza past Exchequerville to the ghost town of Summitville, a real trick in a Honda. That mining town where we spent our day is where we consider to have spent our honeymoon. On leaving Summitville to the north, we encountered a bear parked in the middle of the road, staring at us for about five minutes. That was my first encounter with a bear in my life, and I had no intention of moving or startling it, or even breathing if I could help it, being only about ten feet from the car when we saw it.

That whole road from Bonanza to Summitville and north out is stunning scenery (except the Superfund cleanup site at Summitville). I would recommend to anyone who wishes a scenic drive that road, though in something more substantial than a Honda.

A viewer writes -- Sunday, December 18, 2011 -- My fiancée and I decided instead of marrying in Oklahoma, we would do it in Colorado (she having lived in Colorado Springs before). She decided on the location: Villa Grove, Colorado, where we stayed at a wonderful bed-and-breakfast. The next day, after obtaining a license from the Saugache County Courthouse, we went to Bonanza, toured that tiny ville, then to Exchequerville, the ghost town one mile above the "City" of Bonanza. Exchequerville is a true ghost town, nothing remains but the cemetery, and a Forest Service building. On where we estimated the original main street of Exchequerville was, we married, on 7 September 2007, under the trees and mountains, with only a chipmunk for a visitor. After taking our wedding photos (she of me, me of her), we then went back down into Villa Grove, and asked the two waitresses at the restaurant (one of whom my wife knows) to witness our signatures on the license. On the last day, we went back up the Forest Service road (in a Honda - not recommended), stopped by Exchequerville to take in the beautiful area one more time, then on to Summitville. That ghost town is where we consider having spent our honeymoon. It was also my first encounter with a bear. The bear was sitting in the middle of the Summitville Road, and refused to move just for a mere Honda. We couldn't back the Honda down the road, as it is steep, narrow, full of curves and large rocks. No room to turn around either, and we didn't want to upset the bear. We stood facing off each other for about ten minutes (with me trying not even to breathe), until the bear got bored and lumbered off. After we spent the day in Summmitville, we left via the road north out of town. When we returned the next day to Saugache to register our marriage, the County Clerk noted we had put the place as Exchequerville, and said she could not find any record of a marriage there for over a hundred years. The Saugache Crescent Newspaper (the nation's only remaining lead type newspaper) ran a wedding announcement for us, complete with listing of Exchequerville as the place we exchanged our vows, and sent us a copy of the paper in Oklahoma. Now we live in the Nebraska Panhandle, and I am itching for a trip back to that beautiful place where we were married, I just want to take something different than our Honda.

A viewer writes -  Friday, January 27, 2012 --   I believe the town of Exchequer(ville), above Bonanza, even had a post office from July 22, 1881 to June 6, 1883.  I have been hunting for that postmark for my collection for years.  Bonanza had a post office from 1880 to 1938.  This wonderful website helps me make it through the winter until I can make my annual return to the "real" mountains each summer or fall and visit some of the absolutely most beautiful places in the world.  Thanks Mike.

An Appalachian Native, Robert Hamill

A viewer writes - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 --- What a joy to find this site, and even more so, to see the photos from a place I also called "home."  Winter of 1972.  I lived in one of the cabins down the road and on the left, with my then boyfriend Harvey.  It was ... honestly ... one of the dearest, most treasured times of my life.  Loved chopping wood, gathering water, and living in a place of such breathtaking, glorious beauty.  Do you remember the full moon reflecting off the snow peaks?  Beautiful.  

Also learned how to waitress at the Gold Pan Inn on days when we'd drive into town.  I suppose the men were looking for work, I can't recall, but I'll never forget being told if I wanted to eat, if I could please just help by asking the rest of the folks in the dining room what they'd like (and then delivering it) ... I could keep the tips and get my breakfast without charge.  

Those were such innocent days.  Dirty hippies?  Hardly.  We were big-hearted.  Spirited.  In love with life. I was also under the impression that the cabins belonged to the father of one of the long-time residents ... but I suppose that was just hearsay.  In any case ... in short time Harvey and I parted, and I left the mountains never to return.  Still trying to find my way back.    My name was Beth.

A viewer writes - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 -- I came across this site as I was telling a friend about my trips to Bonanza. my friend Fabian owns a cabin in Bonanza and has invited me to go for a weekend retreat. What a beautiful, peaceful place. We invited my son for one of the weekend trips and he liked it and could not believe the black sky with silver stars sparkling at us. The walks on the dirt roads and the resting on the deck is well worth the four hour trip from Albuquerque. Don't get any bigger Bonanza!! Rosalie from Albuquerque, NM

A viewer writes -- Monday, June 04, 2012 -- George Raymond again from Huntingtin Beach CA. I wish to thank this web site and all who responded to my request for information on the Raymond's from the Bonanza area. Dona and I traveled to Colorado July 2011 and after riding the old trains, we traveled to Bonanza and Exchequer. We were successful in finding The Raymond burial plot and "Potato John's" grave. We found the approximate location of the Raymond Ranch. As a results, we have made contact with some of the Raymond descendants, one in Grand Junction, and one in Northern California. We left information we had on the Raymond's at the Saguache County Museum. We located the Cotton Creek Cemetery where other family members are buried. The Grave stones are knocked over and broken. We have Iva (Ivy) Davidson's Wedding book for her marriage to James G. Raymond Sept. 25, 1916 in Salida. Her patents were cook and caretaker at the Co. Hospital. We have an old postcard showing the Jackson Hotel (Landmark of the Rockies) at Poncha Springs and a postcard from James in Bonanza to Ivy in Salida Aug. 1910. One cent stamp. We also got a copy of the song that was written to honor James after his death resulting from a mining accident at the Cocomonoga quarts mine near Bonanza. Thanks again,

A viewer writes - Sunday, July 22, 2012  -  Greetings from Ontario, California  - I am looking for any information on Samuel Thomas Ashley, my 2x great grandfather, who lived in Bonanza til his death 1939. My 2x great grandmother was Rebecca, she passed in 1932, in Bonanza. My grandfather, John Wesley Ashley was born in Trinidad in 1905. If there is any information about, I would appreciate anything about my relations. I can be reached at Regards, Norman

A viewer writes -  Monday, June 24, 2013  - I would love to connect with anyone who has ties with Bonanza in 1953-1954. I was born in Salida, but my family lived in Bonanza at the time. My father was a water well driller and I believe he did some trapping around Bonanza as well. We lived in a log cabin with an outhouse until I was 8 months old. I have been back numerous times to visit the Ghost Town and the scenery never changes---it is breathtakingly beautiful all the way up the mountain and Bonanza remains quaint and pleasant. I noticed one of your guests as describing the yellow-orange creek. I always thought of it as red, but I remember it well. There were many beaver ponds in the area when I was born and I know some were still there in the mid to late 60's.  My name is Gina Zetmeir-Stephens and I would love to hear from anyone who might remember the area from that time period. Thanks for the website.  PS I do have pictures of the time my family lived there in 1953-1954, especially of the heavy snowfall. They are in storage and I cannot access them at this moment or I would share with you. I will look for them.

Rocky: Will my post appear on the Bonanza page? It does not appear to be there now. I failed to list that my present home is Sheridan, WY  Thanks.  Gina Zetmeir-Stephens

Rocky says - Yes it will. Actually it does.

A viewer writes - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 -- George Raymond again. Thanks to your site, I have made contact with Michael Raymond and Debbie Corbett, all descendants of the Raymond's in and around Bonanza. We are still trying to get information on the Raymond Ranch. One of the participants on the sight mentioned having some information on the ranch but did not leave a way to contact them. Donna and I were in Bonanza in July 2011 and located some of the Raymond graves in the Exchequer Cemetery including my great-grandfather Potato John Raymond who was the #1 Cook on the Hayden Survey. We were not able to find my Grandfather James George Raymond and my Grate Grandmother Mary F. Casteel Raymond. Family information says they are both buried on the Raymond Ranch. We would love to get the exact location of the ranch and any other information on the Raymond's.  Thanks for the help and I can send some photo's if told how to do so. George Raymond

A viewer writes - Wednesday August 21 2012 - I am so fortunate to be invited to Bonanza at least once a year with my friend Fabian. Fabian owns a cabin that sits on top of the mountain overlooking the small town of Bonanza. The whole experience is beautiful and ever so peaceful. I look forward to my trips to Bonanza.

Rosalie from Albuquerque, NM

A contributor and frequent visitor to the site, George Raymond has provided the following Photos and information. THANKS George,



1st Photos is James George Raymond with Ida and James. James George was crushed in a mining accident at the Cocomonoga Quartz Mine near Bonanza and died 3 months before my dad was born. 2nd photos is Ivy Davidson Raymond with Ida, James, and Laura Raymond at Bonanza  3rd photos is James George Raymond and Jess Ferguson at the mine the day before the accident.

The three photos above are at the Cotton Creak Cemetery and Headstone for "Club Foot Smith" Edwin Smith. He was an early scout for the Army and my 3 times Great grandfather. The headstones have been knocked down. He got the name Club Smith as he amputated his own tows due to frost bite and infection. Cotton Creak is near Mirage Co. Photos Courteous of George Raymond.

A viewer writes - Monday, January 27, 2014 -- I'm Frank Mays of Edinburg, Virginia.  We lived in Bonanza in the late 40's.  My sister attended the school there.  I remember that lst thru 8th grades were all held in the same room.  Myself and Ralph Raymond worked at the sawmill that was located between Bonanza and Villa Grove during the summer.  Bonanza was a great place to live. I still miss the beauty of that small place in our country.  I have many fond memories.

A viewer writes Monday, March 17th, 2014 - I just found your site and love it! I found it by searching the town of Bonanza. There's an excellent article in today's Post on the near-ghost town of Bonanza.

A viewer writes - Monday, May 26, 2014  - Hello this is Susan from Broken Arrow, Okla. again. We are planning a trip in mid .July to Bonanza this year. I haven't been in over 15 years. We have 2 family cabins next door to each other in the middle of town on Main Street. Can't hardly wait for July to get here. Time ages this town so slowly, from all the pictures I've seen it still looks the same way it did when I was a kid. I have enjoyed visiting this site again and seeing all the pictures, it brings back so many memories of childhood. I learned to drive in Bonanza, I drove my grandpas red jeep down main street to get water from the pump down by the posts office. Can't wait to go throw a few more rocks in the creek that goes thru town. Hoping there will be some other folks staying up there while we are visiting.

A viewer writes -- Thursday July 3rd , 2014 --  I just saw your web site.  I recognize some of the cabins.  My father was Mayor of Bonanza at one time.  I'm sorry I can't provide the date.  His name was, Herbert L. Jackman, aka  H.L. Jackman.  Wife, my mother, was Lenora.  They knew the, Raymond's,  Also their was a family of Costello's there.

We lived in a two story house just South of the multicolored rock house that you have included on this web site.  Later, they owned, "the last cabin in Bonanza" going North, across from the, "Wheel of Fortune Mine".

 My father was a miner there also.  I do have some old pictures I think, but would have to look for them.  Bonnie Jackman

My Mothers Cabin


The Mill in Bonanza (all gone now)

 A viewer writes Thursday 9/25/2014 -- I remember the Jackman's house at the north end of town - I always wondered what happened to them and if they were still around.  I also remember the Slaughterhouse Creek Commune and when we were going on a jeep trip we met one of them walking up the road in the early 70's.  Some of them are still there to this day.  I thought it was a shame when one of the locals took the boards off of the Wheel of Fortune mine and used them to resurface one of the bridges and then charged the city for it.  Several years later the rest of the Wheel of Fortune mine was scraped away with the superfund cleanup leaving nothing but dirt and a few clumps of grass.  It may make the environmentalists happy but it was things like the Wheel of Fortune mine that made Bonanza interesting.  I wish they had waited so my kids could have seen it.  Too bad there is not a picture of it here.

A viewer writes - Sunday 10/26/2014 - Does anyone remember Mary Taylor, she was the last Postmaster.  This goes back a lot of years, I mean, a lot of years?  Dave  --


From The Denver Post  - POSTED:   11/25/2014 03:59:29 PM MST

Men and women pose on a dirt street in Bonanza (Saguache County), Colorado. Frame buildings have false fronts and signs that read: "F.F. Roby Assayer" and "Second Hand Goods." Miners hold pick axes, shovels, sledge hammers and pose near a pile of rocks. (Photo by Charles Goodman/History Colorado, Original photographs collection)

Bonanza, a one-man, 133-year-old mountain town, lives on. Bonanza, in Saguache County, was in jeopardy of being relegated to the ash heap of history, facing disincorporation and losing its status as the state's smallest town because of a "lack of government."

But the Colorado secretary of state's office announced Tuesday that Bonanza survives.

"Under Colorado law, the Secretary of State must abandon towns that fail to hold elections and operate a government for five years," the office said in a media release. "According to court filings and coverage in the Pueblo Chieftain, Bonanza held ... a 2009 special election." The 2009 election asked residents whether they wanted to disincorporate. "The measure received the majority of the votes cast with 11, (but) it failed to secure the two-thirds majority needed" to pass, the release said. Twenty-one votes were cast. What's unclear is how 21 votes were cast in a town with one resident. Mark Perkovich, 54, who moved from Denver to Bonanza 19 years ago, is currently the town's lone resident. "I wanted to live at the end of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere," he told The Denver Post in March. For now, the secretary of state's office said: "The future of Bonanza lies with its only resident." The state has disincorporated dozens of other inactive municipalities during the past decade, with little fanfare. Because of its long history of mine camps and boomtowns, Colorado is home to more than 1,500 ghost towns.

Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822, or

A viewer writes - Saturday, September 12, 2015 - My great great grandfather in law owned the Exchequer Mine north of Bonanza, Colorado. I was searching for more info on him and found your pictures. awesome to see where he walked and lived. thank you