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Russell Gulch Colorado Ghost town

2006 - Pictures by Mike Sinnwell

Sometimes referred to as the city with "Equal Opportunity".   No, not the politically correct version. It was so called because "females have the same rights as males" to hold mining claims. If you happen to get here don't forget to go over "Oh My God Road". Of course with gambling to these mountain cities the road is not near as scary as it was 20 years ago. A flatlander will probably only choke a couple times. This area was discovered by William Green Russell.

A reader writes in.. - Actually the one white house with the once blue trim is #77 Russell Gulch not #44. Too many years have went by since then. The Blue house and the little half yellow house belongs to (or did at one time) the person in the white house with the coal smoke out the stack. Russell Gulch was a big town at one time. Look at some old pictures and you will see a lot of houses, several stores, hotels, taverns, horse and wagons, a tram way, actually a small train track a with bridge across the gulch. Many of these houses were bought for very little, disassembled loaded on the C and S rail cars, taken to Denver Colorado and put back together to live in during the great Depression. During the early 60s a group of college students as part of a class assignment came up here to record on tape some of the original history about the area as told by the actual people that lived here during the boom times. This may be available somewhere to listen to, but have never been able to find it. This area has had it's booms and busts over the years, and will again, Who knows mining may return as there is still a lot of gold in the ground, But the cost of recovery is very high. So there it sits and waits.

A reader writes - Trey! What are you doing in Florida? I thought you moved to the Phillipines? Russell Gulch, Colorado is still about the same in the old part but rich folks have built their unlivable palaces in the upper gulch. Marion died and we have disc golf now. Come by and visit. John K.

A reader writes - UT oh! I have been caught by a Russell Gulcher. Hi John K. Yep, It is me retired here in Miami Beach. No mountains here and 75 Degrees. How time zooms by. I hear you on the "unlivable palaces". I may come and visit some day but would come up the OMG road as I really don't care to see Central or BH. I like the pictures in my mind better. Also please feel free to correct my posts as I forgot a lot of the details. I really enjoyed living in Russell Gulch. When I think of home I still think of Russell Gulch. NB

A reader writes - When I found this site I was looking for "ghost gold" not ghost towns so I found this site by accident and just happened to see a picture of my former home on it. But there is some connection between ghost gold and ghost towns after all. In the last few years it has been found that what the old miners called "Ghost gold" and was thrown out in the tailing dumps of old mines as worthless is to some percent actually Monatomic elements. It is now thought that about 6% of the earths crust contains monatomic elements that are not found on the periodic table of the elements. Mine tailings may contain much higher concentration of this material as Ghost gold. Ghost gold or actually monatomic elements are single atoms of gold and other metals before they become metallic elements. Gold as we know it for example must contain at least two atoms of gold element to be actual gold. As single gold atoms they are just a white powder not "gold". There are claims that this white powder can be turned into real gold, but so far it is a very expensive and complex process. A lot of work is going on in this area to produce real gold from Ghost gold. Of course if an inexpensive way to convert one to the other could be found, many Ghost towns could spring to life again for a while anyway until the market is flooded with cheap gold and other metals. Then a bust again. But it is a interesting idea to think about. For more information do a Google search for David Hudson Monatomic. The streets of Russell Gulch Colorado are paved with old mine tailings, so it is true that the streets are paved with gold after all. NB

A viewer writes - GREETINGS FORMER RUSSELL GULCH RESIDENTS..MY BROTHER TONY AND I LIVED IN RG 1969-1971 IN THE YELLOW HOUSE AT PEWABIC MINE  AT THAT TIME IT WAS OWNED BY LOWELL A GRIFFITH..WE WE YOUNG MEN WHO HAD MOVED THERE FROM CALIFORNIA ..HOUSE WAS ABANDONED MANY YEARS PRIOR TO US  WE ''RESTORED '' IT TO LIVABLE SHAPE PAID 30 DOLLARS A MONTH RENT  WAS MARRIED WHILE THERE  HAD A SON BORN IN THAT HOUSE BY KEROSENE LAMP LIGHT ..TONY'S GONE NOW  SURE MISS THE PLACE. LOVE  this site  brings back SO many memories...dying to know if my old house is still there ...the  interior walls were  paneled with tongue and groove paneling  throughout  including ceilings.  With our landlords permission we  scavenged  gorgeous  weather worn siding from one of the mine-shaft biuldings and used that wood to panel rafters in attic  which we used as  sleeping lofts for guests...the winters  at 9000 feet were way cold for us Calif transplants.   When we could afford coal  we were fine.  Without it I can remember  waking up to 20 below temps INSIDE the house..Our first year there we woke up to 30 inches of snow on Oct.3rd  (1969)...our place consisted of five gold mines on 70 acres.. We hauled spring water from the big meadow on Pewabic Mountain  even in winter.  The graveyard is especially interesting  with dates that reflect the fact that whole families died within days of each other during the flu epidemic of 1918..Lots of musicians lived in this area at that time ..The bad Buffalo Springfield had a house in Central for a while  just prior to our arrival  Steven Stills had a house in Ward.. Judy Collins grew up in Denver  the photo on the cover of her first album was shot in the back yard of ''The Glory Hole Bar'' in Central City. I played in several of those bars in Central...probably all gone now unique feature of our house in Russell was a  12'' square hole cut in the floor of our kitchen back when it was still the assay office. The scale for weighing the gold went down thru the hole so that people walking on the floor would not affect the scale with the vibrations. I have been working on a novel that loosely mirrors my life story.  Several chapters revolve around Russell Gulch  would love to  connect with other current/former residents of the area for more background. We were still there at the time the most beautiful house in Russell Gulch burned down  the big green 2 story house owned by Martha Kinnish. It happened in the middle of winter and by the time  the fire truck from Central made it up the hill there was nothing left.   I dug out a tiny china vase from the rubble and I still have it. We lived there from July'69 to thru March of '72  at that time the total year round population of Russell was apx,25-30 folks  Boy do I have stories  for the many jeep enthusiasts that seem to write this site, I recommend a drive to a place called Queen's Ranch  way off the beaten path was deserted during my time beautiful old huge house  like something out of a great western movie ...speaking of movies,  of course old-timers (ha-ha) remember that the Goldie Hawn movie ''Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox '' was shot in Central  and a couple of scenes in Lake gulch including one with Pewabic Mountain in background I hope I get the chance to take my 35 yr old son back to Russell Gulch someday and show him the room where he was born by kerosene lamp light.  There were some wicked characters in Central in those days , rumors of missing persons at the bottom of mine-shafts did not take a lot of imagination to believe..Nevadaville still looks great  used to be a freshwater spring in the middle of town with fantastic water ..please e mail me if you want to talk about Russell Gulch/Central etc. Les Cordoza..

A Viewer writes - My Mama lived her childhood in Russell Gulch. We visited about 30yrs ago making Mom at 50 yrs old. We saw her old house & then went to another to find the school teacher she had favored, that teacher came to the door aprox 80 yrs old & remembered her & her first name "Zota Jane" she said how could I forget you- that lead to a sweet story of Mama hanging from a barbed wire fence  with a pretty red dress & white laced underpants- Mama is 80 now herself, having Ahleshimers she has forgooten alot- But not Russell Gulch-She told me yesterday she wants to make a last trip to her home town, but I think that trip will just be from memories. Does anyone remember Zota, Thomas or Mary Ann Loper maybe Israel. We would love to hear fom you! ask your Parents & Grandparents! Thanks so much. Jeri

A viewer writes -  So pleased to see something on Russell Gulch! My family settled in Russell  Gulch from Valcava, Italy. John and Angela Simoni (Angela's maiden name  Zancanella which has a lot of history in Central City as well) came over from the old country mid-1890's to mine (of course) and raised 9 children (7 girls and 2 boys) in Russell Gulch. My great, great uncles owned Rieva & Simoni Tiroler Meat Market & Grocery in Russell Gul ch of which I have a photo and would be happy to share. My great grandmother even donated a stile at the graveyard in Central City where many Zancanella's are laid to rest including her sister, Constance, who died as a child. I would love to hear from anyone w/info of friends or relatives of the Simoni's or Zancanella's or others with stories of Russell Gulch.

A viewer writes - And Shares these photos -         


  The photo attached has my great grandmother, Augusta Deliva Simoni, and her husband William Spieler, along with my grandmother Shirley (who is now 80), my Uncle Bill. I don't know who the other child was (a cousin I'm guessing!). This photo was taken in 1935 in Russell Gulch. The store my family owned was Rieva & Simoni Tiroler Meat Market & Grocery. I mispoke calling it Simoni Bros. Oops! Thank god for the photo and my great grandmother's notes! According to her note, my great, great Grandfather, John Simoni, was co-owner of the store. You are more than welcome to post the photo. I've also attached photos of John and Angela Simoni who immigrated from Valcava, Italy to Russell Gulch. They lived in Colorado from the mid 1890's until their respective deaths in the late 1950's. They even had their Golden Anniversary acknowledged in the Denver newspaper.

Oh, and just for giggles, I've sent a photo of the seven Simoni daughters in a humorous old photo. My great-grandmother is the one with the knife! :) Enjoy

A viewer writes -  I was interested to see photos of Russell Gulch as I had seen the name in the 1880 US Census. My great great Uncle  Benjamin had emigrated from England in the 1860's and decided to try his luck at Gold Mining. He was listed at Russell Gulch in the 1880 Census with Chauncey Smith. Anyway the man did well and eventually struck gold, sold out to a mining company and eventually died in Chicago in the late 1890's quite a wealthy man. ---  Rachel

A viewer write - Thank you for this web site.  My mom, Alice Ress, was raised in Russell Gulch.  She was the youngest of four.  I think her home is pictured on this web site, although I'm not sure.  My mom passed away almost 8 years ago.  She would have been so tickled to see Russell Gulch make it on the WEB.  Anyone who remembers my mom or her family, I would love to hear from you.  She was always a Colorado girl at heart.

A viewer writes - Thanks for this site, I grew up in Russell Gulch from 1992-1997. I lived in the house next to the top of the red one in one of your pictures. You should go back and take more. Thanks again

A viewer writes - Very nice site, and it only gets better and better. I stopped by to see Russell Gulch information (Russells expedition had my relatives from the Patterson side in it). Roy Earl Patterson was my Grandfather, married to Elizabeth Marie Buku who just recently passed away at 95(?), and his family members where with Russell's expedition.

A viewer writes - Dear Mike found an old picture of our house taken apx 1972.Please feel free to post it if you like. I still enjoying your site and all the comments from former residents etc Thanks Les Cordoza

A viewer writes. - 9/2008 -  Thanks for the Russell Gulch information - very interesting. I may be able to add a little to the story of Russell Gulch.

In 1833 in Padstow, Cornwall, England a John Gregor (not Gregory!) married Mary Ann Tippett. They had 13 children in and around Padstow. Their eleventh child was named Richard and he was born in 1852. Richard Gregor died in Russell Gulch in 1888. Whilst there, he and his wife had four children - Sybil Alberta Gregor (1883-1890), Richard Jesse Gregor (1884-1890), Earle John Gregor (1887-1888) and Earle Chester Gregor (1888-1889). All four children, like their father were buried in Russell Gulch.

Richard Gregor had an elder brother, John Gregor, whose daughter was Mary Ann Gregor born about 1865 in Stafford, England. She married Henry Keast (also a Cornishman born 1863 from St Erme in central Cornwall) in Russell in 1889. Henry and Mary Ann's only child was a Johnnie Gregor Keast who was born and died in 1891 in Russell Gulch. Mary Ann died in 1891 and like almost everybody else in this sad tale was buried in Russell Gulch. Life was certainly tough in those pioneering days.

An aside ... I am related to Henry Keast. My wife is related to his wife Mary Ann. They met in Russell Gulch, Colorado in the late 1880s. My wife and I met in Bristol, England in 1968 and had no prior knowledge of our families before that. How strange is that! -  Ken Ripper

A viewer writes - 10/2008 -  Hi John K. I lived in the yellow house on the Pewabic (which I painted dark brown) from 1980-about '84. I was cruising google earth to see how the gulch is holding up and remembering when. I googled russell gulch & came up with this site & there you were. There can hardly be another John K. in the gulch. I'm retired & living in n. fl. I checked out the weather you've got coming your way & I'm glad I'm here. But I do miss the mountains. When I lived on the pewabic Bill Griffith owned it but he passed away around '95. Bill was married to my sister. I don't know who owns that property now. Doc was murdered back then & Luke Clyburn disappeared. I hope you'll contact me, John K. Are you still the mayor & fire chief? Jerry C. Russell Gulchers past & present contact Jerry C.

A viewer writes - 12/29/08 - Former Russell Gulcher checking in. To: The Mayor of Russell Gulch Colorado John K. I have moved from Miami Beach Florida to Las Vegas (lost wages) Nevada and live in a high rise condo on the world famous Vegas Strip. If you can't beat em join em I guess. It is very nice here but it is not home, Yep, from outhouse to penthouse I guess, but when I think of home, I think of Russell Gulch Colorado. Yes the Winters were tough, the Summers very short @ 9000+ feet, but for fifteen great years it was my home. The only thing I don't miss is the snow. Would I trade this condo unit for my little white house with the blue trim? Don't tempt me I just might.  I was thinking the other day about one night in Russell Gulch during the Winter of 1978, I was watching the Tonight show on TV and about 11 PM, someone knocked on my back door. Well nobody ever came to the back door before, so when I opened it, there was a young woman standing there with no jacket, frozen solid as it was about -10 deg. She was really in trouble. I let her in to warm up and she said that her boyfriend (from Denver) dumped her out of his car in the snow some where on the high road. John, her hands and feet were frozen solid as a rock, black and swollen up something awful. Who knows how far she walked in the snow @-10. I had to cut her shoes off with a knife. Really freaked me out and I had no phone at the time to call anyone and always had to go to Central or BH just to use a phone.  She was realIy out of of whack and in shock. There was no way I was going to leave her alone in the house while I went for help. So I finally talked her in to my car as she refused to go unless I took her to Denver. So I told her I would in order to try to calm her down and keep her from jumping out of the car as she attemped to do several times while going to CC. It was a wild ride down the hill for sure. But I took her to the police station in Central City ASAP instead to get her some medical attention. If anyone ever needed medical attention, it was her for a fact. Never found out what happened to her. Guess I will always wonder.

Remember when Denny Mike came back from a party one moonless night up on Pewabic mountain and fell in to a prospect hole? He said thought he was going down a mine shaft on a one way trip!! He said his whole life flashed before him. But it was only about five feet deep. Well that is a story for another time.  Take care, please say hello from me to the Gulchers that are still around. NB

A reader write - Sunday, February 01, 2009 - Ken Great Grandmother was Elizabeth Jane Keast(dau of James). She is buried in Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, CO.  I would be interested in getting in contact with you. GREAT site Rocky! Thanks! I have pic of the IOOF Cemetery, Russell Gulch, present and about 50 or more years ago.

A reader writes - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - I wanted to give you a big THANK YOU for your website.  I was able to email Ken Repper  and he sent me pages and pages of family history on the Keast side.  Without your website I would have never found this gentleman and the detailed family history.  My Great Grandmother (Keast)  ran a boarding house in Russell Gulch during the late 1800's and early 1900's. The family came from Cornwall, England.  I have often wondered where the house stood. Thanks again! Linda

A viewer writes - April 21/2009 -  I was really happy when my friend Jim L.  who still lives in Russell gulch turned me on too this site.  I too lived in the Pewabic Cabin from 1973 through 1976.  It seems much longer though .  I remember the cold winters but with great joy.My friend Mike K. and I were led to the cabin by a guy named Mark Fonda who said it was sitting empty and that he knew the landlord L.A. Griffith.  We met with L.A. and he rented it to us for thirty dollars a month..  It was in June or July of 1973..  Later that year he sold me a beautiful wood burning cook stove in which I roasted a thirty pound turkey in for Thanksgiving that year.  I have a lot of memories of my time in the area , many which I haven't thought of for some time.  Thanks to whoever setup this site!!! I move from there to Lake Havasu City, AR and then to Cayucos,Ca.  Both were or are small towns .. In fact Cayucos is similar in size to Idaho Springs in that it is three blocks wide and three miles long

A viewer writes July 2009 - My mother in law was going through her family photos and she came across a couple old pictures of Russell Gulch. My guess is from the 1880's. There is one of a school (complete bell tower on the roof). I think this a different school than one standing today. The second is of a place called the Oxford Hotel. My mother in law's stepfather Al LaVota was born in Russell Gulch in the early 1890's. I am told his father was killed in the "Glory Hole". Rich - Kansas City, Mo

A viewer writes July 2009 - I lived in pewabic in 1972-3.  We only paid 25 bucks a month.  Paul Felton lived in the white house across from the fort. I have two friends from that era, and i would like to know more.

A viewer writes July 2009 -  Drove through Russell Gulch today. Great to see the people who lived at Pewabic. Completing the lineage should be Dan & Nancy Miller, who live here in Grand Junction, and lived at Pewabic 1972-1973. I lived at the Pogue the same winter, in a small trailer, and was caretaking for Benny Laubin (spelling?), who I was amazed to find, moved up there and is still in residence (he seemed pretty old when I met him in '72, but then I was 23.) Spoke to the folks who've lived in the house across from "The Fort" since '79, and was very cool to remember those magical (wild, scary, nutso) times as a disfunctional hippy community. Any history folks know what "The Fort" was originally (in '72 it was a conglomerated crash-pad hostel who knows what, with a flourishing "midnight auto parts" business across the way in stolen Volkswagons from Denver.) Bob Weiss  - Grand Jct.

A viewer writes Thursday, September 24, 2009 - I was a runaway in 1973  and stayed up in Russell Gulch in some shacks up there with some people we meet at a rest stop during an April blizzard. We were 4 under age kids in a stolen Volkswagen. Lived in central city- worked for Myer Helfant at a burger joint and hung out at the Red Bandanna and Toll Gate tavern . Long time ago.  Anyone out here?

A viewer writes -  Thursday, October 29, 2009  My name is Vanesa Strohm and I lived in Russell Gulch from Nov.97 to August 2003. My husbands name Wendell Strohm. We lived in the green house pictured. Wendell lived in that house for 20 years or more. Too bad you didn't get the outhouse in the picture. It had a fallout shelter sign on the front and a TV antenna on the top. He also had a sign in his living room that said restrooms out back. The cabin had no running water so we hauled it from Idaho Springs in 3 or 4 50 gal barrels at a time once or twice a month. He used to say the only running water we have is the water we RUN to get. We have a daughter named Kimi who was born when we lived there. She's 7 yrs old now. We lost her dad in June of 07. Wendell was truly the love of my life and is deeply missed. I will forever cherish the memories of living in Russell Gulch, and so thrilled to see pictures of the house and barn that he owned across the street. I have quite a few pictures of Wendell shoveling snow, and we lived there when we had 7 feet of snow the week of Spring break. A HUGE snow plow went in a ditch in front of our house, and another had to come pull it out. One year it snowed so deep he had to find his Volkswagen by sticking his broom stick in the snow until he found it. Thanks again for the site. Vanesa Strohm

A viewer writes November 2009 --   Mrs Strohm, I am deeply saddened to hear of Wendall's passing and you have my condolances. He was a good friend of my Fathers who lived across the street in the house across the street. His name was Dan Wall. Is he still in Russell Gulch? I too remember Hauling water up virginia canyon road. What fun!  email

A viewer writes November 2009  -- My great grandparents George and Maria Schiefer settled in Russell Gulch around 1880 and raised 9 children. My grandfather Joseph Schaffer was the youngest. Note the spelling, a teacher in the Russell Gulch school told him that he was in America and needed to Americanize his name, I think the younger 4 siblings changed the spelling and the older ones kept the original.   My grandfather, Joseph, died in Russell Gulch in 1985.  The ruins of the house he was born in 1899 are on Harris Road just off Dakota Ridge Road on the west side.  When he died he was living the house directly across from the large intact building that I think was a general store.

My great grandfather work at the Old Town, Topeka, and Pewabic mines.  My grandfather talked of of a baseball team that traveled to other mining camps and was the best in area (I think everyone's ancestors were the best at what ever they did).  He also talked of a large band that his father and older brothers played in.

My grandfather made his living during prohibition using the abandoned mines to manufacture and store booze.  My dad says this was pretty common and Russell Gulch had a large revival at that time.

A viewer writes Monday January 25th 2010 -- Greetings  I see you have some updates from Russell Gulch  I would like to respond to the descendent of Joseph Shaffer.. my brother Tony and myself lived in Russell Gulch from July '69 to March '72  that first winter there we were dirt poor and would have possibly starved to death were it not for 3 people. One was an old sweetheart named Martha Kennish the other 2 were Joe and Marguirite Shaffer...they were quite a colorful pair ...they were pretty hard drinkers I must say but they were fine people just the same ...Ma and Pa Shaffer as they were called by the locals always had colorful stories to tell  a bowl of chili and some crackers to offer...we tried to do chores for them like we did for Martha in return for food but  they had gas and electric heat  (unlike Martha who burned coal/wood) so there so there were not so much to do in that regard  I do remember that Ma would have us drive her to Idaho Springs for shopping  as Pa was often too impaired for this task...I still remember that pick-up a green '53 GMC pick up.. loved that thing...unlike Martha they also had a TV so we watched the evening news there occasionally .. Ma would sometimes drive the truck over to our place on the Pewabic when she and Joe were fighting . One time when I went by the house they were goin at it (Pa was drunk again) and ma asked me to drive her off the premises ..Joe came out the door as we were driving off , firing at us with a rifle..I heard later from Ma that he cried when he was told about it( no hard feelings here LOL.). anyway just wanted you to know of all the "hippies" that were there when we came and the dozens more that had arrived by the time we left it's only Martha Kennish and the Shaffers that I miss to this day..I understand that all 3 are buried in the Russell Gulch cemetery from where I have watched countless beautiful sunsets  If I ever get the chance to go to Russel Gulch again I will surely pay my respects .   thanks   Les Cordoza (Stockton Calif)

A viewer writes - Monday February 2nd 2010  -  Mike   yes you have my permission to post this letter I sent  I was only writing about the Shaffers because of the post I saw on your site from a descendent of Joe Shaffer..I figure they will see it eventually on RMP's anyway  as for the Cemetery its funny as I recall there is only one cemetery that I know of  way at the top of the hill on far western edge of town you have to remember last time I was there was 1972 at that time there was no nice sign like this one you sent me   also, somewhere on the internet I came across a list of names of folks buried there including dates of burial  Joe and Margurire Shaffer and Martha Kennish were all on that list ..thats why I mentioned that as a "fact"  also one thing that intrigues me is all the trees in the photo  I do not remember it being so wooded there  however that could have changed in 38 years yeah?..I remember seeing  at least a couple family plots where you could see whole (or nearly so) families died off in a short period of time I attributed this to flu pandemic of 1918 but of course the dates elude me now and the "record" I saw on the net did not back this up (maybe they were moved?) I don't know, but that memory stuck with me..... I would not have fabricated something like that from imagination.. the other thing I remember the most from  the cemetery is that from there you had a clear view to the west of the continental divide looking towards Georgetown and Loveland Pass.. the sunsets from that location were just unbelievable  we often would drive up there from our house  (2/3 minute drive). just to watch the sun set  thanks again keep up the good work   Les Cordoza

 A viewer writes -  Tuesday, February 16, 2010 -Hi everyone.  Just came across a photo postcard that reads "Picnic, July 4-1909.  Near Russell, Colo.".  I think it may be Russell gulch.  Great family and friends picnic photo in the aspen trees.  On the back is written "Cliff cabin is straight across the creek with the white door.  This is a picnic they had last 4th."  Wish I had more info.  Happy to email pictures of these folks, maybe someone knows them.  Leslie at


A viewer writes - Monday, March 15, 2010  What a wonderful site. I am a Colorado native, born to Trentini immigrants (grandparents) who settled in Russel Gulch to mine and raise their family. My mother was the first-born in Denver. A few years back we had a family reunion in a field where my grandparents' house stood; I have a rock from their foundation in my fireplace mantle. My uncle talked about having a 2 room house and bringing the donkey into the house on very cold nights because it was the transportation for my grandfather to get back and forth to the mine. Another uncle's parents owned the saloon in Russel Gulch, but were forced to move when a fire happened and they couldn't afford to rebuild. Lots of history here...If anyone has old pictures of the saloon I would be interested...Thanks! Marlene

A viewer writes - Monday, March 15, 2010  Hi. I spent quite a few summers in Russel Gulch in the early-mid 60's. My Grandmother and Martha Kinnish were good friends and we frequently stayed in the old school teachers house. Martha also had a cabin in Nederland and little white house on top of a mine shaft in Black Hawk. Never minded using an outhouse until we were in Russel Gulch one fall when winter came early.  Martha got an old chamber pot out and left it in my room after that. It really beat 2 in the am, crunching over the snow and trying to stand up in the wind to get to the outhouse, (not easy when you are a skinny little girl).  Many of the Teachers' books were still in the house and made for many a sweet hour spent reading and looking at the great pictures.  The other pastime was to go out nail hunting and of course rock hounding.  Martha and my Grandmother both had a thing about the old rusty nails so common everywhere. They put them in their rose gardens and both ladies had beautiful rose gardens, so it must have worked. I was very sad to hear some years ago, that the house had burned down.  It has a lot of very fond memories for me. Actually every place Martha took us did. She was a delightful person and have always missed her strength, laugh and total fearlessness when it came to dirt roads.  Thanks for this site!  Tanya from Idaho  -

A viewer writes - Saturday March 20th 2010 - I would like to respond to writer who was descended from Joseph Schaffer.  I believe George and Maria are common ancestors of ours.  My family has always told of two German brothers who settled in Russell Gulch.  The had several children, and I am descended from Michael Schaffer who was disabled with "white lung" as a young man.  His only son Lawrence was my father.  His mothers' name was Opal, who supported the family as a telephone operator in Denver.  Lawrence graduated with a Masters Degree in Nuclear Metallurgy from the Colorado School of Mines, married Dorothy Louis Boone in Denver, and settled in Oak Ridge, TN, working at O.R.N.L. and the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant there.  He died in an unusual airplane accident at the age of 33.  I am his son, Lawrence Donald Schaffer, (formerly Jr.), and have a sister, now Rebecca Ann Kryder, living in the St. Louis area.  I would love to hear from any relatives of this branch of the Schaffer family, as well as anyone with photos of the old cemetery (or headstones from there) in Russell Gulch.  I was only able to visit once as a boy of 9 years, and had a euphoric transformational experience in the cemetery there at the site of my great grandfathers resting place.  I believe the cemetery was then in a saddle above a cirque in a grove of Aspens.  I am custom jeweler now in Columbus, GA.  My contact info will follow.  Thank you!  Lawrence d. Schaffer

A viewer writes - Wednesday march 24th 2010 -- Mike  Thanks a lot for your efforts   was a thrill to read a letter from someone who knew Martha Kennish.......she was a very fine dear old lady...she always recalled she was of Welsh heritage...anyone who ever spent a winter in someplace like Russell Gulch at 9200 ft elevation in Rockies with the weather and dirt roads would surly marvel at the grit of an old single lady in her 80's who was up to the challenge of that lifestyle . She did have electricity but heated her house and cooked with wood and coal . I feel sorry for the young couple who accidentally burned down that house of hers.. it was such a fine Victorian beauty  something like that you could never get over it (I couldn't anyway) it WAS an accident for sure but the kind of accident that only greenhorn city folks could have been responsible for  of course Martha lived elsewhere after the fire but chose to be buried in Russell Gulch   Les Cordoza

A viewer writes - Thursday March 25, 2010 - Hi,  I wrote you a while back about spending many happy times at Martha Kennish's house in Russell Gulch. I found the picture my Dad took. Hope it's enjoyed.  -  Tanya

I saw it! Thank you so much!  It was just a very special place to this Colorado child. Martha was a very special woman. It's kind of hard to see in the photo, but I think the kid on the porch is my sister. If I remember correctly the house had no electricity at that time. I remember baths in the kitchen (there was a pump in the kitchen for water), kerosene lamps, a wood cook stove which Martha and my Grandmother used like pro's and the food was always simple and really good. When she bought it, everything was there except the teachers' clothes. Furniture, books, linens, kitchen stuff, etc. Much that I could ramble on about but won't. It's just nice to be able to keep Martha's memory alive. She loved that place! Thank you!  Tanya

A viewer writes - Tuesday, April 06, 2010  -My dad and his brother grew up in Russell Gulch. I live in California and almost every summer we would go back for a big reunion. My dad's name was Charles Barnabe, his family came over here from northern Italy. I was told they changed the spelling of their last name. My grandmother, Octavia Augusta, was sent to Los Angeles when she found out she had TB and died there at the age of 35. My dad's father, Fred Barnabe was a coal miner and died of black lung in my father's arms when he was a young man. My sister and I love visiting Russell Gulch. My dad had many stories to tell. He died back in 1969, but I still recall how much he loved going home to visit.

A viewer writes - Tuesday, April 06, 2010 -  Thanks for the nice picture of Martha Kinnish's house in Russell Gulch by the time I was there '69-72 the wrought iron fence was gone.. in those days house was pale green/white trim the pump in the kitchen pumped water from a cistern that collected run-off from the roof she used that water for everything but drinking ;for that she hauled water from elsewhere like the rest of us very few people had drinkable water from their wells Shaeffers were an exception ( though they drank very little water LOL.)...I just know Martha would be so tickled to know that 37 years after her death people who knew her but not each other would be singing her praises over something called the internet.. I know there are so many people still out there with Russell Gulch stories and I always check it to see who has stumbled upon it lately thanks again Mike for your wonderful site Les Cordoza Stockton Calif

A viewer writes - Saturday, April 24, 2010 - I remember names from early 1973, Dan and Laura lived near the fort. Randi and Jennie living on the high road. Christopher lived on the mountain across from Pewabic. Also people that lived at two brothers mine, Wanye, Jane , tim, Jerry Horner

A viewer writes  - Thursday April 29th 2010 - Mike   thanks so much for making the efforts to create a place for people to share their experiences/history living in the Rockies..........Russell Gulch in my case    fyi that mention of "Two Brothers" in the post of your most recent RG'er refers to a a mine by that name which is actually near the top of Virginia Canyon ( not to be confused with road of same name) of course as you know so many of these old mines had living quarters which is where most of us folks were living at the time....those were the best days again>thanks Les

A viewer writes - Saturday, May 22, 2010 -- Who posted on April 24th about people in Russell Gulch? I'm in touch with Wayne & Jane who lived at Two Brothers (and burned down one of the cabins in a candlemaking accident) - don't know what became of Tim Ferguson. And of course Dan & Nancy from Pewabic who live here in Grand Jct. Bob Weiss, Grand Jct.,

A viewer writes - Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - How fantastic to find a site about Russell Gulch. I was the Laura who lived with Danny and my son Chris, in the house across from the 'Fort'. OK I was living with a crazy nutcase of a man but despite this I still love my memories of living in the gulch. The experience really changed my life and has given me some pretty good tales to tell in my old age! Like the time we got caught by a heavy snow fall coming back from Denver and someone has to hang out the window sweeping snow off the windshield because there were no wipers! We had to leave the car in CC because we couldn't get up the hill and it took us over 2 hours to walk back in deep snow.

The thing that was so amazing for me was wildlife. One day in spring we climbed up the mountain through ice and snow pockets to a meadow baked in the warm sunshine. When we emerged from the woods an eagle, not 10 feet away and sitting on a low branch, took flight with such force that the branch broke when it hit the ground. Such power and beauty! I have seen a lot of eagles since then but never so close and it still ranks in my top ten sightings alongside the wild elephant in India and otter cubs playing with their mother in our local river. I live in Scotland now but Russell Gulch still burns bright in my heart. Anyone wanting to get in touch?

A viewer writes - Sunday July 4th, 2010 - Hi! I'm Chris. I'm Laura's son and I lived there when I was very young indeed. ( Around 3 or 4ish ). Sadly, it was so long ago that I can't remember anyone's names... But Russell Gulch had such a profound effect on me that I remember events with perfect clarity.

I remember the 'candle making incident', because I used to play with the girl that lived there, and accidentally burned down the house. Am I confused, but wasn't an old lady's house next door burnt down as well?  

I remember the old Spanish fort very well too. (Funnily, I can't seem to find it on Google Earth... nor any historical mention of it?) There was a pretty good band that used to practice there, but I can only remember the names of John the Drummer, and Benny the saxophonist... However, I think their music inspired me to become a musician...

And I remember the amazing paleontologist/geologist that lived in the Fort ( the only person to find a complete fossil of the Sabre-Toothed Tiger, I might add..), that had a dog called 'Dog' who was always getting covered in porcupine quills.  

I remember the Indian guy that taught me to respect nature, and some advice that once saved my life... When approached by an angry grizzly bear... play dead... and it actually worked!  

I remember the Mexican woman that made damn fine but really hot chillie...  

I remember there were only 2 'modern' houses. One white one where I used to go and play with the kids that lived there, and the one on the ranch down the road from the fort.  

Anyway, I can remember many amazing things about Russell Gulch that have stuck with me throughout my life... I live in southern Spain, but I still miss the howl of the wolves, and much other wildlife... the crisp clean air, the mountains, lakes, valleys, trees, and space. I don't miss the snow though... I remember it snowed on my birthday in August! And crying because it was my birthday, and I still had to trudge through the drift to get to the outhouse.. lol And yes. I still remember when the car broke down and we had to walk from Central City... I was not a happy chappy...

There's more, but it's too much for now...

Anyway, thanks for the site, and I do hope some of you will get in touch for some reminders. Thanks! Chris Aitken.

A viewer writes - Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - Back in 86-88, my wife and I had the privilege of living in the Gates House in Blackhawk. There was a colorful array there at that time and we made many friends, most of which have probably gone on to meet the maker. We loved to eat at the prospector restaurant and ramble in the mountains. Gene and Linda were dear friends. They introduced me to a character from the Russell's Gulch area that went by White Buffalo.  A strange individual to say the least. I wonder if he could still be alive. Probably not.  The Gamblers surely ruined the atmosphere in that area. Thanks for keeping a warm spot in my heart for those places. Wenow reside in south Georgia.  Butch McDuffie

A viewer writes - Sunday, September 05, 2010 - I just returned from visiting Russell Gulch.  I stayed in the brown barn like house jutting out of the rock hillside.  Keith Parker build, and owns this property.  I lived there from 1997 to 2006. Nothing has changed.

A viewer writes - Friday, October 01, 2010 -  Mike Just a note re your pics of Russell Gulch  the 2nd photo (shell of a building made of stone blocks,,hard to recognize now but because of the juxtaposition of the backdrop I'm sure this is what many Russell Gulch writers refer to as "The Fort"  crazy stuff happened there  would love to know what became of the roof (my guess is fire)..the 2 story IOOF building in good shape was owned by one Calvin Smith  he lived in Subdivision north of Central City had a well drilling business I worked for him briefly..another family of fine folks I have not mentioned before was the Skinnards from Idaho Springs if anyone knows of Dave and Dawn Skinnard please direct them to this site in hopes that that they will look me up . A lot of us hippies were sitting out the Viet Nam War up there as opposed to going to money ,no food  no jobs..winters @9000 ft in the Rockies was no picnic but a damn site better than ducking bullets in the jungle  the Feds found many of us anyway .(myself included) but Russell Gulch saved my life in more ways than one ........Les Cordoza  Stockton calif

A viewer writes - Sunday, October 17, 2010 - Mike  trying to find old friends Dave and Dawn Skinner from Idaho Springs  perhaps you could post this on the Idaho Springs page  thanks  also there was a great old  spot Two Brothers Mine in Virginia Canyon about halfway between Idaho Springs and Russell Gulch anybody out there with photos of that ? ...thanks as always for keeping this alive  Les

A viewer writes - Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - Hi, I am really enjoying your website. I was looking for information/photos of the original Russell expedition. I have the general information about William G. Russell and his two brothers and countless others. I was hoping for something a little deeper. I guess mining is still in our blood. Thanks.

A viewer writes - Sunday February 20th 2011 -- One of your viewers wrote in 2009, "My great grandfather worked at the Old Town, Topeka, and Pewabic mines.  My grandfather [Joseph Shaffer] talked of of a baseball team that traveled to other mining camps..."

That sounds like my story!  My great grandfather (Thomas P. Drennan) died in an accident in the Topeka mine in 1901, and my grandfather (John Drenan) played on a Central City baseball or softball team that travelled - to Salt Lake City at one point, where he met my grandmother.  John was a mining engineer and was born in Central City in 1897 and lived there until ~1920.  My great-great grandfather John Drenan also died in a mining accident in the Central City area, around 1877, but not much is known about him.  That mining was a deadly business!

I enjoyed your site!  Please forward this message to the Shaffer relative if you still have the e-mail address. Thanks,


Rocky Says - Sorry,  as they did not leave contact information.

A viewer writes - Sunday, March 06, 2011 -- My mother, Emily Serafin Battaia, is turning 100 in October of 2011. She was born in Russell Gulch, the youngest of four siblings. She has lived in Telluride, Silverton, Ouray, rode the narrow gauge and has a clear memory.  My dad was born in Blackhawk, his father was a miner at the Black Jack mine. We have maps of the mines under Central City.

My siblings and I were raised on the stories of the mining towns and events including the plague. Would love hearing from any other " kids of the mountain people". My grandmother was Katina Casagranda Serafin, wife of Steven and the other was Mary Micheli Battaia, wife of G. Battaia

 A viewer writes - Sunday, March 13, 2011 -- Anyone from Russell Gulch, up in the shacks 1973 April? Stayed there , Brotherhood bikers hung out at the Red Bandana. Tollgate Tavern?

A viewer writes - Friday, March 25, 2011 -- name is Jeff Felton.  I grew up in the fort until it burn in 73 or so i will have to check ,but i have my dads photos that i will get on here.    i guess where to start ..he made leather hats ... Jerry Hoerner lives in mo. Galespy  and others ..would like to find chatty Cathy  Kenny Goehkinhower ? others... like to communicate with people from the Russell Gulch   And I like to call it an artist community ...rather than ...will log on soon with some photos...jeff        [ ]

A viewer writes - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 -- I have many relatives buried in the Russell Gulch cemetery. I last visited in June of 2010 to see the markers and check on things in general. My family names were Jones and Olver. They lived there in the 1870s to the early 1900s. William Olver was a grocer, William Jones was a miner. Tim Smith

A viewer writes -  Thursday, June 02, 2011 -- I'm glad you sent this page. As I read all the comments and stories I'm jealous as I have no stories on my relatives that lived in Russell Gulch, Apex, Central City, Nevadaville, Perigo. I read the stories just hoping someone knows the Rosetta, Andreatta, Hines families. Mike Rosetta and Mayor Davies were in partners on some mines. While my grand father was checking mines in June of 1907 he was hit by lightening on Russell Gulch and four days later by his daughters: Angelina, Jennie and Lulu Rosetta found his body. Antonio Andreatta owned the Lulu Mine and my grand father Mike owned the Angelina. My grand mother Lizzie died in 1895 and there was an inquest to her death but as we all know the paper work seems to disappear.

A viewer writes - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 -- Back in 1972, I was 18 and was working in a nursing home.  One of the people I cared for was a gentleman by the name of Albert Lavato.  He suffered from what I know now was Alzhiemer's, but he talked a little about where he grew up.  I always thought it was fiction until I look it up one day.  He would tell us, "I grew up in Russell Gulch, Colorado.  My dad was a miner and my mom was the town whore."   I don't know if that was true, but he was consistent about where he came from.  Are there any records of an Albert Lavato from there?

Rocky Responds - You got me, I would have to research.

A viewer writes - Monday, December 26, 2011  -- my husband and I lived in Russell gulch back in 88-91,we lived across from the fort, Howard our friend lived in the fort at this time. In back of us to the side Robert lived. and Candy from Texas, sometimes lived in the lil red cabin, up straight behind us. Our names are Randy and Rochelle Barr.. Randy was a fire fighter, and I worked at Indian springs resort.       we loved the gulch...had wonderful times and great memories, we partied hard and met great people.

A viewer writes - Friday, January 13, 2012 --  Rich, Kansas City Mo, Responds to Sept. 14 2011 Russell Gulch post. The gentleman was Albert Lavata. He was my wife's step-grandfather. He was born in Russell Gulch about 1890. I am told he had four sisters and 1 brother. His father was a miner and was killed in the Glory Hole about 1900. I think the mother he spoke about was his father's second wife and his step-mother. Albert worked early in his life hauling freight from Golden to Central City by horse and wagon. He went on to a career a with the Denver School District as a boiler operator. Albert married my wife's grandmother when he was about sixty she was about forty. It was there second marriage for both of them. They lived in the area of Denver University. I still have several of Albert's tools from his boiler days. I have been to Russell Gulch a number of times and from what the family has told me about his stories of childhood Albert grew up in a house on the north side of Upper Russell Gulch Road about a half mile east of the school.

A viewer writes -  Monday, January 16, 2012 -- As I read through your Russell Gulch, Black Hawk, and other town pages and memories. I envy the people that have photos of family. My grand father Mike Angelo Rosetta owned the Angelina Mine. There isn't any info on that mine I can find. Antonio Andreatta owned the Lulu mine for a while. I would like to ask if anyone know anything about the Rosetta, Hines and Andreatta family please email me : Jacque McDonnell

A viewer writes - Thursday, February 16, 2012 --  I visited Russell Gulch back in the 1990's. We stumbled upon it by accident. We were hanging out in Idaho Springs and kept hearing about some road called "Oh MY God" Rd. Everyone told us to stay away from it. They would say "You don't want to travel that road, it's guard rails, narrow, straight drop." By about the third time we heard it, my other half, Randy said, "We're going on it." Well, it was definitely a white knuckler on the way up. At the top, we stumbled upon Russell Gulch. Not a soul in sight. Buildings, houses, it was like people just up and left. The weirdest thing was this store with a big sign saying "POTTERY". So we went in. All the pottery was on shelves neatly displayed as though we had entered into a country store. Not a soul in sight! There was a sign that read..."choose your pottery and either leave your money on the counter, and there's credit card vouchers underneath the cabinet." We stood there scratching our heads wondering the whole time if we were being watched. I even went outside the store to see if anyone was watching us. Not a soul in sight!...This was one of the weirdest experiences we ever had.   Carmen and Randy

A viewer writes - Monday, February 20, 2012 -- My mother, Shirley Jeanne Greenfield, was born in Russell Gulch in 1941.  Her parents were William and Marie Greenfield.  She had four sisters, Wilma (Billie), Sherry, Beverly and Barbara (twins), and one brother, Merris (Maris?).  My mom told many stories of my grandpa and how much he loved the mountain roads!  The family eventually moved to Boulder, not sure which year.  My mom passed away almost 10 years ago.  In about 1979 or 1980, she was able to go to Russell Gulch and took a picture in front of the house she lived in.  I've had a good time reading all the memories people have shared about this town.  If anyone remembers my mom or anyone in her family, I would love to hear from you.  Maybe when I am in CO next, my husband and I will come to Russell Gulch! Thanx for the stories, Karen in Las Vegas, NV -

A viewer writes - Wednesday, April 04, 2012  -- I enjoyed finding and reading about my Grandmother, Martha Kennish. It makes me smile over and over. One thing jumped out at me. She was not of Welsh descent. I think the reminiscence refers to one of her stories about the Welsh miners in the Blackhawk area. Martha's maiden name was Harshman (German) her mother was a Bullard (English), but if you want to say she was Welsh it's fine with me.  She is the best read person I have known, including my college professors. I disgree about her being pleased about bring discussed on the internet. I can guarantee she would never have owned a computer and never would have "wasted" her time on the internet. She would be reading a book. My favorite memory was of "Mamam" as we called her and I sat up all night reading War and Peace aloud to each other.  -- Tom

A viewer replies - Saturday May 5th 2012 -- Well, what Martha must have said was that Kinnish was a Welsh name and perhaps we made the inference that it was her maiden name ...this is not the kind of thing you just make up  I remember it well  and heard it more than once...........we never pried too much....obviously she was married  (or you would not exist.) thing she NEVER mentioned was her husband, or any children for that matter ..we kind of figured it was a bad memory otherwise why not mention him in passing....all I meant was she would get a kick out of the fact that so many people fondly recall her  years later...the medium is besides the point.....I can tell you I spent many ,many hours chatting with her on many subjects......I can honestly say that it's quite possible she saved my day when I was a RG "newbee" I pointed a rifle at a Gilpin County Sheriff   in my front yard ( did not recognize him as such) Luckily I was not shot by him. He was in the process of taking me to Jail when Martha rolled up in her little VW Rabbit and talked him into cooling off and letting me go I might not have fared well in prison/ jail etc.....the day her house burned down was very very sad for us ..she was out of town when it happened//we never saw her again  and were gone ourselves  not long after....she was a fine generous Lady....the type of character you'd find in Michner's "Centennial"....I am not surprised to find she is buried in RG Cemetery. I will be in Colorado for the first time in 40 years this Fall  I hope to visit the Gulch and her gravesite  I will be staying in Glennwood Springs but hope to squeeze in a side trip to Russell Gulch

A viewer writes - Monday, May 28, 2012 -- Re: Martha Kennish.

Interesting that she elicited the comment of being a character out of the book Centennial. I like that. You probably know Orchard, Co., was used as the town of Centennial to film the series. Other parts were filmed around Jackson Lake and north of Weldona. Anyway Martha and her husband William Kennish owned a grocery store in Orchard.  

Martha married William Kennish on 6 Oct. 1909. They had four children, twenty grandchildren and at my count 41 great-grandchildren.   

I can't for the life of me figure why she would give the impression, let alone say that she was of Welsh heritage. Kennish is not Welsh it is Manx. My great-grandfather Robert Kennish was from the Isle of Man. Martha was born to Frank N. Harshman and Laura E. Bullard on May 16, 1889. She died on May 15,1984.

I truly loved my grandmother, who had a tremendous influence on me. She started me on my hobby of genealogy with stories of her family, etc. The stories told by her are pretty well documented and I now that everybody in the family, including her, is aware that the Kennish heritage is Manx.

Martha was a very complex person. She was estranged from most in her family, including her siblings, children and descendents much of her life.   

When the depression hit she and my grandfather lost everything they owned except for one farm, which we called the home place, at Wiggins, Co. MK went to Denver and worked as a maid and caretaker for a widower with seven children, to help pay the mortgage on the farm. This happened before I was born.   

Their marriage was contentious to say the least. When she demanded settlement of the farm, I asked my grandad why they didn't just divorce and settle it, he replied, "Your grandmother doesn't believe in divorce, she's Catholic." When I pointed out that he wasn't, he filed. She became furious with me for suggesting that they get divorced. She tore up the divorce papers when they were served on her by the Gilpin County Sheriff. She never spoke to me again, until the day my mother died. They never divorced, but never lived together after I was born (1934).   MK's life style was self chosen, i.e. lack of modern conveniences.

I think I understand her better than most of the family. She was extremely kind to strangers, but was cold towards most of her family. She demanded more of her family members than others. It was never a financial demand but she held them to her moral standards, which I believe were quite high. She was extremely judgmental and seldom acknowledged, let alone praised anyone's accomplishments in her family.  

She is the only person I have known who could walk into an empty room and start a fight.  -Tom

p.s. I forgot to mention Martha is buried beside a stranger to most of us in her family. She is also buried beside one of her daughters and a grandchild, Paula and Cecilia Stinson. The Stinsons lived in the house in Russell Gulch. Aunt Paula died in Texas, her husband was in the military, but her daughter died when they were living in the house in Russell Gulch in March of 1955.

A viewer writes -- Tuesday, May 29, 2012 -- In tracing back my family tree I found out that I am a direct descendent of William Greenberry Russell who this area was named after.  I loved seeing these pictures and just wanted to thank everyone for all of their hard work in getting this information on the web!  Robin Russell O'Grady

A viewer writes - Friday, July 20, 2012 -- To: Les Cardoza Several photos of you and your brother Tony have recently been re-discovered and are now in Russell Gulch. Seems to be a wedding in the Pewabic House. Tony had lighter colored hair, is that correct? And your goat (remember that?) is long gone.

To : Others of Italian heritage. We have house cats named Reiva and Simoni.Certain names that are mentioned are prominent in our property chain-of-titles and the homes are still owner occupied. The oldtimers built and maintained nice homes and have our thanks for providing us with same. We hope to pass them along to others in good condition.

Russell Gulch was and remains a  very eclectic community. In the old days there were people of every ethnicity living in harmony. So it continues, the wealthy ruling class dildoes who would have it otherwise notwithstanding.

A viewer writes - Wednesday, August 15, 2012  -- Russell Gulch --wow.  Found this site looking for Idaho Springs stuff, lived there 76-77.  Summer of 76 I worked in C. City--drove the "Oh my god" both ways & got to where I knew it well enough to go 30 mph.  Started snowing so bad one day that June that the Chandelier Shoppe (?) closed for maybe 1st time ever.  Anyway, I'm an Okie, what did I know, so headed back over the mountain.  The snow go so deep at the Gulch my VW went off in the bar ditch.  I saw a house with lights so walked up there.  The guy there took me on over to a house with a phone so I could call my family in IS, and someone (him?) had a truck with a winch.  They got my bug out & I spent a very cold night with him in his unheated house.  Turns out he was another okie.  Thanks for stirring up that memory.  I may still have some pics for you of how beautiful the quakies were up at the gulch that  fall.  Another time on my way to work in CC, the tie-rod on my VW broke, and I gathered speed almost all the way down from the Gulch till my car came to a stop in Tyler Mchuen's (sp) yard--just missed the house!  It was the little pink house on the right as you came down into CC.  He was bartender at the Gold Coin in CC.  Thanks again for the memories!  Lisa in OK

A viewer writes - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 -- Dear Mike  saw a post from "a viewer" on the Russell Gulch site   said  there were some photos from my brother's wedding     says they're "in  Russell Gulch" not clear what that means..looked for them here but not finding them I am DYING to see these pictures ( have nothing from that  event) and very very few pics from that time please advise.   

thanks  again  for this wonderful site also thrilled to see the detailed history of Martha Kennish maybe I lost a little in translation after 40 years who wouldn't?  anyway the Isle of Manx is pretty close on the map so I don't feel too bad ...and until the writer mentioned it, I had forgotten that she said she was Catholic....I'm sure we must have told her of the fact we were raised Catholic...Nuns/ served as alter boys/the whole 9 yards  perhaps that's why she was much fonder of us than the rest of the leather clad folk in Russell....thanks again Les Cordoza


A viewer writes - Tuesday, December 11, 2012  -- I have many fond memories of Russell Gulch, I lived with Martha Kennish on and off for several years and was devoted to Ma & Pa Schaffer, they all in their own way taught me a lot of life lessons, I was in Florida with my good friend Michelle when Martha's house burned, my mother was from Orchard and when she was a little girl Martha gave her a sewing basket! Penelope Walker, Eureka Springs, Ar.

A viewer writes - Sunday, March 03, 2013 - My dad's family is from Russell Gulch. They were the Stevens my family would go up to the "cabin" in the summers when I was growing up. It was the house my grandma grew up in. My great uncle gave the cabin to a family who moved in one winter because he felt sorry for them. I was told my great grandfather owned the saloon and great uncles worked in the mines. They were originally from Cornwall England. When my grandmother died a relative had written about some of the family history it was interesting to read.

Rocky writes - For those of you that are Facebook users and interested in connecting with others from Russell Gulch or Nevadaville you should friend this link.

A viewer writes - Wednesday, July 17, 2013 -  Great site, I currently live on Alps Hill between the West end of Russell Gulch and Nevadaville and am willing to help out anyone looking for current info/pictures of the area. Phil W.

A viewer writes - Tuesday August 13th 2013 -- Wonderful site and really interesting. I have a lot of information of the Pewabic mine. I knew Bill Griffith when he lived (and died) in Lakewood.

I have the maps of the Pewabic, the ore log book with the names of the miners that leased the mine and the ore that they removed from the mine. I also have the little fold out desk that Bill's uncle had in his home on Belair in Denver. I also have the original incorporation papers. I do not know who owns the mine now but I do know that there is ore that was mined and stored close to the shaft waiting to be hauled up. I have no idea the condition of the mine but have been up there many times.  

Some day I will make a list of some of the miners that worked the mine and see if any of them cross reference to the names on your site.   Again, thanks for the wonderful site.  Jerry Morris

A frequent visitor and contributor Judith Stopper provides the following information. THANKS Judith.

Willam W. Jones and Annie Olver Jones Family about 1900, probably in Russell Gulch Colorado. This is part of the family mentioned in the 1900 Thomas W. Roberts diary. The names are on the picture even though I would question the couple in the front.

Front Left (left to right):

William Hampton & Amanda Olver Hampton  

Back Row (left to right):

Alva Jones?, Eliza Lamerton Olver, Flora Jones?, Annie Olver Jones, Hazel Jones?, William W. Jones

Rocky says - You got to read this glimpse of the diary.

Judith has a transcript of the 1900 diary of Thomas W Roberts while he lived in Russell Gulch, Colorado, and was married to Elizabeth Hughes Jones Roberts (she is Judiths ancestor). Thomas Roberts died in 1901 from a mining accident. This diary was in the possession of Patricia Marie Jones Harris. Transcribed by her daughter Judith Renee Harris Stopper.

There are just a few comments where he (Thomas W Roberts) mentions some bickering neighbors or bad behavior.  When I was in Central City at the courthouse I noticed a glass display case with all kinds of little ledgers or diaries and wondered what in the world could be wonderful in them for me.

 Go HERE to read the diary

A viewer writes Thursday January 16th  2014 -- Hi Mike,     

As there was much fond reminiscing about our grandmother, Martha Elizabeth Harshman Kennish on your site, I'm sending you a picture of her at the house in Russell Gulch for the site.  It's not a very good picture, but it's the only one I have.  All others burned with the house.  Thank you so much for this site.

Warm Regards,   Mona

A viewer writes Thursday January 23rd , 2014 --  (THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO AN EARLIER NOTE ABOUT ALICE RESS)

 Hello; I knew your mom, Alice Ress and her parents, though I didn’t know Alice well.  I'm sorry to hear she passed away.   

I was eight when we moved there, and we lived in The Teacherage, just below and to the west of the school from 1954 to 1958.  I was eight at the time.  “We” were our mother and her six kids.  Our grandmother, Martha Kennish, lived with us sometimes and sometimes at her cabin in Black Hawk.  I think your mother was a senior in high school in 1954, but she may have been a junior.  I thought she was pretty, and very glamorous.  

Your grandparents, Henry & Laura Ress, were the school bus drivers (to Central City) and custodians/caretakers of the school in Russell Gulch.  The “school bus” was the Ress’ personal car.  The school just above us was not used, but the Ress’ always checked to make sure there were no leaks or vandalism.  We got to go in a few times with Mrs. Ress – it was beautiful.  All the student & teacher desks were there, as well as pictures and the old pull down maps.  Both your grandparents were always kind to all of us.  The other permanent residents at the time were Marion Wagner and her mother, their next door neighbor (Mr. Hancock?) whom Marion eventually married, and Mr. Hinkley, a gentleman who was the custodian for many area mines. He lived across the road west from the uranium mill.  

I never knew the man who lived in the house just west of The Teacherage, but I didn’t like him because he kept encroaching on my grandmother’s land after The Teacherage burned in January of 1971.  When I was twelve, I could climb up and sit on the wooden fence between our houses, lean over and touch the side of his house.  There was no more than two, possibly three feet between his house & the fence.  He did a lot of work on it, because it was uninhabitable when we lived there.  I’ve often wondered what happened to the wrought iron fence in the front of The Teacherage.  There was another large family who lived in the Gulch for about a year, and a young couple, but they all moved away after about a year.  There were also a couple of summer homes.  When we moved in 1958, we cut the population in half.  

Your grandfather was a hero to me.  When our youngest sister choked while eating breakfast just after we older ones left for school, your grandfather drove my mother and sister to the doctor in Idaho Springs, down the bottom portion of Virginia Canyon, a very rough ride under the best of circumstances.

He made it in less than seven minutes, but she died along the way.  This was before the Heimlich Maneuver was known.   

When your mom came back from California one time, she told a great story that I imagine is part of your family lore.  This is it as well as I can remember.  

She was at a party in California and was talking to another guest, a young man. During the conversation, he asked her where she was from.  She told him she was from Colorado.  “Where in Colorado?” he wanted to know.  West of Denver, she replied.  “Where west?” he asked?  “Oh, it’s a small town in the mountains, you wouldn’t know it.” she told him.  “What town?” he insisted.  “Russell Gulch,” she replied.

“No kidding!” he said.  “I was through there last summer!  I stopped and was exploring an abandoned house, and some old coot came in the back door & asked “What are you doing in here!?”   “I told him I was just looking through this old abandoned house.”  

“This isn’t an abandoned house!  My wife and I live here!  Now get out!”  

“I left,” he told Alice, “but I know that old guy was lying.”

“No he wasn’t.“ your mom told him.  “That was my Dad, and you were in our house!”  She was NOT at all happy with him!  He was lucky he didn’t get shot.  

There is a picture of the Ress house on this website.  It is in the group at the beginning, the next to last picture.  I’ve included a picture of The Teacherage circa 1880-1890 from the collection at the Denver Public Library.  The property line was the same when we lived there.  I know I’ve seen a much better picture of your mom’s house with the garage just to the left or west of it, but I can’t find it.  It may have been in a book on Colorado ghost towns.

It was a great place to grow up.

A Viewer writes - Thursday, January 08, 2015 -- Dear Mike  it's been some time since I posted anything about Russell Gulch..from time to time I go on your site to look at old photos of the place...recently on Google's Russell Gulch site I have come across some photos of our old cabin...they break my heart.. apparently at some point there was a fire there that did considerable damage but amazingly some parts still remain..3 photos in particular  one of the front of the cabin that shows the front porch gone and the the fire damage.. another view from the south east corner looking towards the Divide.. and the most recently posted one that I reckon was taken by someone before the fire.. an interior shot...there's no doubt this is the actual cabin I lived there for almost 3 years.. it had beautiful tongue and groove "waines coating" which was mostly stripped out but some still remained on the interior  roof.. there's no mistaking it.. no other place in Russell Gulch had anything like it.. it was original built as an office for the Pewabic Mine and was well appointed decor for 1912 the placement of the doors/windows etc I'd know it anywhere in spite of the damage.. it makes me sad to see  and  I have only a couple pictures including the one I previously sent you...nearly 45 years later I still miss the Gulch and my health is failing I do sorely wish I could return one last time but I doubt it will ever happen.. I see on a real estate site there is a piece of land for sale across the gulch for sale on the "sunny side" with a great view of Pewabic my dreams I wish I could build a house there and live out my days in Russell Gulch.. funny how a place where I lived such a brief time and where we struggled so hard just to survive could hold such a warm place in my heart LJC

A viewer writes - Saturday, January 24, 2015 -- Back at the turn of the 20th century my great-grandparents were married in Russell Gulch, Colorado.  The Marriage Certificate has since been lost!  My great-grandfather, Dominic(k) Valentinelli and his brothers worked in a gold mine there.  I've tried to do some family history but do not know my great-grandmother's, Fiorentina (Florence) maiden name. If anyone may have information on any of my family there, I would greatly appreciate it.  My email address is:  Thank you

A viewer writes - Thursday, April 09, 2015 -- Russell Gulch,1970 I stayed with Les and Tony, at the Pewabic Mine and what a winter it was!We had ropes tied up to follow when we went outside. Inside was always cozy, but that was maybe because the guys were so much fun and high spirited! sorry to hear of Tony, and sorry you feel like your health is failing. Les do you remember the pack rat, we chased after that little guy for weeks, it was like a game for him and us, we would find his little stashes here and there, he stole everything big and small! Thanks for the fun, Penelope

A viewer writes April 29th 2018  - Hi, I was looking at the information on Russell Gulch as my family is from the area. I am a descendent of the Turner/Keast line. My great great grandmother was Phillipa Keast and my great great grandfather was James Turner. I have seen a couple of Keast descendants comment. I am just beginning my genealogy journey and would love any history you have. If you can email me at that would be so helpful! Briana Woods

A viewer writes - June 18th 2018 - I  was going thru old family photos and found this picture of the "Famous Topeka" Mine.  It was on a postcard dated Sep 16, 1910 and post marked Russell Gulch.   The other picture, I believe is the boarding house in Russell Gulch run by Anne Oates Keast.  (My Great Great Grandmother).  She is seated holding a baby.  Not sure of the date but must be late 1890's or early 1900's.  Mrs. Keast immigrated from Truro, England in 1888.   Linda Briggs