City and Town Incorporations

Recently the story of the small Colorado town of Bonanza brought the issue of city and town incorporations to our attention.  According to the Secretary of State’s office, which oversees town incorporation and abandonment in Colorado, the tiny town did hold a special election regarding whether to un-incorporate the town, and although the majority (11 votes!) did vote in favor, it was not the required two-thirds majority to allow the abandonment (see the Secretary of State’s press release for more on Bonanza).

Given the state’s mining, railroad, and agricultural heritage, there are hundreds of small towns across Colorado that have been abandoned or un-incorporated through the years.  Some remnants of ghost towns remain, but most of these towns are long forgotten.  Researchers looking for information on town incorporations in Colorado can find records for 1876-1977 at the Colorado State Archives, and from that date to the present at the Secretary of State’s office.

Ghost towns can be found both in the mountains and on the plains, and are fun places to visit.  If you’d like to check out some of Colorado’s ghost towns, see the Colorado tourism office website’s Colorado Ghost Towns webpage or visit the Colorado Department of Transportation’s, which include several ghost towns along the routes.

The ghost town of St. Elmo, near Buena Vista.  Photo courtesy Colorado Tourism Office.

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