Photo courtesy of National Scenic Byways Online (www.byways.org)
Born: On July 4, 1879, prospectors discovered gold more than 10,900 feet high in the Rocky Mountains, near what is now Independence Pass. The population quickly swelled to around 300 and kept growing. In 1882, the town had about 1,500 residents.
Died: The altitude brought cold winters, and miners decamped to nearby towns at lower elevations where the climate was milder. Almost all the residents deserted Independence during the brutal winter of 1899. Soon the town was empty.
It lives on: The Aspen Historical Society offers tours from mid-June through Labor Day. Suggested fee for adults: $3. Gold is still in them thar hills: Open mining operations have resumed nearby.