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Discover ghost towns along Boreas Pass

Kimberly Nicoletti
summit daily news

More than a thousand people go up Boreas Pass every summer and fall, but few know much about – or even notice – the ghost towns in the area.

Last year, Roger Thweatt published “Ghost Town Sites Along Boreas Pass.” Tonight he’ll talk about his book at the Old Dillon Schoolhouse.

Though Thweatt worked as a professor of psychology at Northern Arizona University for 26 years, he always told his wife he should have majored in history, because it was his first love, academically speaking. This book allowed him to delve into the history of a place he’s lived near as a Breckenridge resident for 20 years.

The book describes four abandoned mining towns along the pass: Argentine, Farnham, Farnham Spur and Dwyer.

Thweatt used an 1885 railroad map as a reference to locate three of the four towns, then investigated the physical location, looking for clues, such as building footprints, broken glass and tin cans.

“I had been up there dozens of times in the past 20 years, and I never saw ruins; I wondered where they could be,” he said. “And holy smokes, when I became sensitive to what I was looking for, (I discovered) building footprints are all over.”

Through his book, Thweatt shows readers how he deduced what he did from remnants discoverd in the forest. Thweatt used written accounts, found objects and a method called dowsing to accumulate information about the towns. The latter is a controversial technique, but it’s been used to find water, as well as answer yes and no questions, since the 16th century. He used dowsing to learn about two soiled doves who lived in a cabin above a mine in Argentine, but he points out that the story has not been confirmed, though it is consistent with other mining town characteristics.

“My interest was not writing something for the historian,” he said. “It was for the locals and visitors … (who) don’t know anything about mining and what to look for in ghost towns.”

The town of Argentine housed the most diverse people, including miners, railroad workers and businessmen, but its mine wasn’t very productive, as evidenced by the limited dump and the lack of valuable ore scattered around the portal or dump.

Maps that Thweatt includes in his book display locations of where up to 18 buildings once stood, and beautiful illustrations by local Lisa Rivard help bring history to life.

“Boreas Pass is one of those fantastic places for both locals and visitors to frequent for the views or exercise,” said Linda Kelly of the Summit Historical Society. “This evening will give people historic information to think about the next time they make their way to the top of Boreas Pass.”


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