‘Lost Town, Lost Dreams’ finds itself at CMC
A mining ghost town is the subject of a new photo exhibit running through March 16 at Colorado Mountain College’s downtown gallery.”Gilman Project: Lost Town, Lost Dreams,” features color and black-and- white photography by Scot Gerdes and Greg Dahlgren. The images were taken in Gilman, a 50-acre town perched on Battle Mountain a thousand feet above the Eagle River and four miles north of Minturn.In the late 1800s, gold and silver miners from the Iron Mask, Star of the West, Ground Hog and Belden mines settled the former mining boomtown now left deserted.
In 1977, the mine was closed and 154 miners lost their jobs. Limited mining continued until 1984 when the mine workings were allowed to flood. The town and mine were completely abandoned in 1985 when the state filed notice and claim against the former owners of the Eagle Mine for natural resource damages under the federal Superfund law.What remains today are abandoned buildings that housed and provided the livelihood for mining families and workers. Many of the colorfully painted abandoned houses in Gilman were built in the 1940s and ’50s, and most have been vandalized and are in a state of disrepair.Gerdes and Dahlgren began capturing the images of the abandoned town in 2003. Over a year’s time, they photographed what was left of Gilman and the Eagle Mines.
“The Gilman Project” is a combination of their extensive collections. Both photographers show buildings where Gilman residents lived, worked and played. Gerdes provides his images in color, while Dahlgren views the mining life in black and white. Included in their collection are photos of the administrative offices, recreation center, bowling alley, hospital, school and library.Both photographers have long been interested in capturing images of aging buildings. Gerdes, a 1995 graduate of CMC’s professional photography program, has worked the past seven years as the program’s photo technician. There he met Dahlgren, a student in the program.”Documenting what remains at Gilman was a fascinating, yet daunting, endeavor. There is so much stuff remaining in the town and the mine, you’re overwhelmed,” Dahlgren said. “Weather has taken its toll on the buildings, walls and mine shaft. Anything of value has been either ripped off, removed or torn away.”
Although the the project is complete, Gerdes could picture himself returning to Gilman.”We could spend more time there. Each time we went back, we saw something different,” he said. “This may be your last shot to see this historic town. It’s really sad – one of these days, the buildings will be totally gone.”Information: 947-8367.
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