STAFF / USA MAINLAND / Interesting Towns

St. Elmo, Colorado: an inhabited ghost town

Story by staff writer Teresa Davis. Photos Copyright © Teresa Davis.

ST. ELMO in Colorado is designated a ghost town, but it is also inhabited. There are some modern vacation homes in the surrounding area. It also lives up to its reputation as being one of Colorado’s best preserved ghost towns.

Things have changed some in St. Elmo since I started visiting off and on about 15 years ago. It’s a shame people destroyed property so much that the town had to block and close off some of the buildings.

Inside the jail, replica of the original jail in St. Elmo, Colorado

Replica of the original jail in St. Elmo, Colorado

When my daughters were young, we visited St. Elmo for the first time. At that time, my girls were able to go into the original jail cell. The real jail cells were so much different than the ones you see on TV. The jail has been closed off to the public with a small fence.

The original, preserved, church school

The original, preserved church school

Another building that was open was the schoolhouse/church. You could smell musk and old books and see how the children learned a hundred years ago. This was a wonderful experience, loving history as I do. Unfortunately, visitors kept stealing the books and breaking the furniture. Eventually, the town took the doors off and installed a full sheet of glass. No one is allowed inside the schoolroom anymore.

Inside the school house

Inside the school house

Notice the large tin stove sitting in the middle of the room? That was how the building was warmed in the winter months when snow was on the ground.

When you walk down the wooden sidewalk and look into the buildings, you get that eerie feeling that time here is standing still. You see original wallpapers, now peeling off. Inside the saloon, you can still see bottles on the shelves; you can see the bar where the miners might have enjoyed a shot of whiskey.

Miner's Exchange General Store

Miner’s Exchange General Store

One of the main buildings in town is the General Store. The owners have it open from May to October. They serve homemade ice cream and bottles of pop. You will find antiques all over the store. The wooden floor is uneven and squeaks when you walk across it. The General Store comes complete with rocking chairs huddled around a wood stove and friendly people chatting.

Annabelle Stark and her brother Tony remained the sole year-round occupants of St. Elmo through most of the early 20th century. According to legend, Annabelle Stark still watches over the town today, many years after her death.

The post office, and hotel above it

The post office, and hotel above it

Among other businesses, the Stark family owned the Home Comfort Hotel. The hotel sat above the post office. Notice the door to the left of the post office? That door led upstairs to the hotel rooms. I try not to stare too long at the windows above the post office in fear I might see Annabelle Stark peering back at me.

St. Elmo, looking South

St. Elmo with its majestic mountains in the background

To get to St. Elmo, Colorado follow highway 24 south out of Buena Vista 8 miles to Country Road 162 (Nathrop) and turn west (right.) The road eventually turns into gravel, but goes straight to St. Elmo (19 miles).

Although it sits at an altitude of just under 10,000 feet, getting to St. Elmo does not require 4-wheel drive. The drive is a two-lane gravel road lined with aspen trees.


Teresa Davis

Teresa Davis

TERESA DAVIS was born and raised in Texas. She is a writer on HubPages (tjdavis), tweets as gypsyheart4ever and blogs at She works at Lufkin Industries, LLC, has a great family—husband of 18 years, two daughters and a wonderful granddaughter—and she loves travel and adventure!



  1. Ann Mc says:

    How cool! I didn’t realize there were ANY ghost towns that were inhabited! Too bad there were vandals who took away some of the fun…. Your photos are absolutely lovely!

  2. Ann,
    This is the only town that is actually inhabited. Yes it is a shame that vandals destroy everything good. I’m glad we were able to go inside the school and see how life was 100 years ago before they had to close it up. That is a memory we all will always have.

  3. Santiago says:

    hey teresa!!! this town is in united states or in alaska????
    Im from Argentina

  4. John Watkins says:

    IIRC, off-road motorcycling great, Malcom Smith, has his ranch near St. Elmo. if ye haven’t been, GO!

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