Better known as Castle Forks City originally, Ashcroft is one town that came up amazingly fast and after the same manner it went down. It was the pursuit of two prospectors namely Charles B. Culver and W.F. Coxhead that lead to the development of this town after they left Leadville in the spring of 1880 in search of silver deposits.
After discovering the deposits in Castle Forks City, Coxhead made his way back to Leadville which was another mining town, to promote the discovery and on returning to the newly found location, 23 other prospectors had joined in. They all joined together and within a period of two weeks they had formed the Miners’ Protective Association, laid out the streets in this town and built a courthouse.
The association was comprised of 97 members and each one of these was required to put in one day’s work or pay $5 in addition to $1 that was supposed to help them draw building lots. In 1882, this town was renamed Ashcroft after the uncovering of a rich ore strike in Montezuma and Tam O’Shanter Mines in which H.A.W Tabor of the Leadville mining fame had partial ownership.
It is said that in 1883, Tabor bought everyone in the town’s 13 saloons rounds of drinks where he hosted a grand ball and banquet after visiting the place with his second wife. At the time, the population in this city stood at 2,000 individuals, it was closer to the railroad in Crested Butte and had grown larger than Aspen.
Other facilities that had been realized by this time were a total of 20 saloons, two newspaper publications, a small smelter, a school as well as sawmills. By 1885, Ashcroft town had 6 hotels and population had risen to 3, 500. This was definitely good progress within such a short time and very few towns had realized this before the same period.
Silver deposits in this town were shallow and the result was that after a short period of time, they were exhausted and this shuttered the promise of having a rail line to Crested Butte in place. It was at the same time when another rich strike was discovered in Aspen forcing both investors and workers to move to their newly found treasure.
This marked the decline of the town of Ashcroft after only five years with only $5.60 left in its coffers and only 100 summer residents available here in 1885. Only a few aging, single men had been left at the turn of the 20th century who spent most of their time either drinking at the local bar and reading or hunting and fishing.
These men also matched up men with sporadic work remaining at the mines as an informal form of an employment agency for them and would also trade stories for drinks. Officers were also chosen at the town every four years when municipal elections would be held. These officers were selected from amongst the inhabitants of the town at the time.
In 1939, the last known resident of the town of Ashcroft; Jack Leahy died and the town became a ghost town officially. As an expression of renewed interest in the 1930s, the Highland-Bavarian Lodge was built but nothing much happened thereafter. Today the town has 9 buildings remaining, which serve as an attraction to all who pay the place a visit.