The thing about living in a remote mountain town like Cimarron is that you have to drive a significant distance to access even the most basic shopping. No matter which direction you choose, the nearest big-chain department store* is an hour and a half away. Trips to said stores are often a full-day ordeal–especially if you also plan on eating at Wonderful House, the best Chinese joint this side of the Pacific Ocean.
But the nice thing about these drives (at least in the Southwest) is the opportunity to see some absolutely gorgeous country. And for someone who loves urban exploration as much as I do, sites like this one make you all sorts of giddy:
I first saw the ruins of St. Aloysius Church during my first summer at Philmont in 2007, and I have been trying to get out there to explore ever since. So when Will finally figured out which road to take, I ignored my rebelling kidneys and aching back and went on an adventure.
Apparently, this is the old site of a mining town called Morley, which existed here in southern Colorado from 1878 to 1956. According to Wikipedia,
At its peak in the 1920’s the town had over 600 residents, its own post office, grade school, and church. The mine produced an average of 600 tons of coal per day and by the time it closed had yielded over 11 million tons of coal…. In 1909 there was an explosion that killed over 300 miners at the Morley mine. At that time it was considered the worst man-made disaster in U.S. history. Investigators discovered there were high levels of methane gas emitting from the ground, and the explosion was ignited by an electric-powered vehicle that was used to haul coal. After that CF&I [Colorado Fuel & Iron Company] resorted to using mules to haul the payload out of the mine.
You can still see the foundations of many other buildings up there, and some were obviously beautiful houses.
It was so awesome to finally see this site up close after so many years of dreaming about it. It is absolutely stunning. (It’s also for sale!)