Sunshine Colorado Townsite - Ghost town
Photos courtesy of Mike Sinnwell 2005
Every time I find one of these towns close to a big city I am amazed. This location was teaming with people, buildings, mills, hotels, a newspaper, saloons, barber shops, mines etc. Obviously a school as well. Today little is left to see. This town was not laid out like many other towns. It simply grow amongst the mines. Easy to understand when you see the rugged terrain. Apparently the population was over a thousand around 1876. Now to find things you have to look carefully through the trees.
Check out the Sunshine Cemetery story here.
A reader writes - Hi! I always wondered who the people were who stopped and took pictures of our sheds across the road and now I know! The two small cabins in Sunshine are ours (and we are getting ready to restore them as they are really falling down!) We live in the house across the road which was built in 1875, and which we restored in 2003 (there is a huge 400 year old pine in the yard). There are about 13 original historic houses in Sunshine and various other buildings and mines. Most buildings were destroyed in fires or scavenged for wood during the depression. I just stumbled across these pics on the web. Thanks for sharing our little bit of paradise--Sunshine, Colorado!
A reader writes - My father, Arlie Beryl Mix, was born in Sunshine Sept. 9, 1893. His father, James Mix was a miner. I visited Sunshine a few years ago and acquired a copy of June Peterson Howard's "Stories of Sunshine". To my amazement, on pp. 61,62 was recorded info about my grandfather and also his obituary. His first wife Alice Mix was the first woman elected to the Sunshine School Board. His second wife, my grandmother, was Emma Mix, but her name was not included in the obituary. Anyway, I just found your website and enjoyed reading what others wrote. My son is the genealogist in our family. Barb Vander Veen.
A reader writes - I'm so excited to find your site and see the photos of Sunshine Canyon, Colorado. My great grandfather, Archer Pace, helped carry lumber for the school house when it was being built. He also ran a gold mine/worked in one of the mills. That was probably around 1936, as my mother and her family also went out to CO and lived in Sunshine for a bit in 1936. My mother was 4 years old. We visited in July of 2001 and tried to figure out where my family lived and worked. I have a photo of the entrance into the side of the mountain, same entrance in your photo, third row, second photo from left. Do you know what that entrance is, what mine/mill it might be from? I would be so excited to know. My mother recalls that her dad and grandfather worked in the mine/mill, just up the road from the school house. Thank you so much and I am sure going to enjoy viewing your site! - Marlys - Decatur, Illinois
A reader writes - Hi Mike, Thank you for being patient with me. I really thought that My gr-gr Grandfather James Hill had mined in Sunshine ca. 1832. My father , who is now 88, corrected me after I had sent you that email. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Genealogy is an ever ongoing search.... as I'm sure you know. my ancestor who lived in sunshine was James Afflack, Bertha Brewer Hill's uncle. However, Dad still believes that, as told to him, James Hill did in fact live among Indians and trappers in Colorado ca. 1832-1849. My brother has the gun that James Hill toted with him from Ohio thru Colorado to California and back. There are notches carved it, supposedly for each Indian killed. I don't chose to believe the Indian notch story, perhaps they were notched for each bear killed.......but who knows.
I envy you living out there...... it is soooooo beautiful,
A reader writes - Saturday, January 31, 2009 Add me to your list of fans. Great website! According to 1900 and 1910 censuses, my ancestor William Hertha (1844-1917) was a gold and silver miner in Sunshine. It's great to see other names mentioned on your website who had relatives living there at the same time (example James Afflack). My family has old photos of Hertha men at one of their mines. I found your website while trying to verify areas around Sunshine, Gold Hill, and Left Hand Canyon where the Hertha men mined and where William had a combination shed/old cabin, which he called home. It would be fun to have a reunion of descendants of that area, where we can trade stories and share photos. In the meantime, thanks for allowing us to share on your website!
A viewer writes - Tuesday March 9, 2010 - - Thank you SO much for this information about my family. I visited this graveyard several times as a child and for the burial of Harry Brown, my grandfather (my father's father), and Andrew Howard Brown my uncle who was killed in a traffic accident on S. Boulder Rd. The Swedlund infant was a cousin and Addie Williams was my great grandmother (fraternal grandmother's mother) and Mrs. Dunn (Harry Brown's mother) was my fraternal great grandmother. Is this graveyard going to remain intact or has the property been sold?
Thanks again, Rosie Long (Brown)
A viewer writes - Tuesday, April 27, 2010 -- My grandfather, Jay Church, grew up in Sunshine. His mother died shortly after he was born in Mich. and his father gaave him to his aunt to raise him. At about age 6 (1882) his father remarried and wanted him back. His aunt said okay (she was in Ohio) and said she would bring him. Instead she and her husband who by this time had bonded with Jay took off for Colorado and "hid" out in Sunshine and made a life there. Their names were Electra and Jim Dustin and they lived there at least 20 years or more. Jay did not see his father until he was 21. This is where Jay got his start in the freight business that later added stage coaches. He operated from Central City thru Nederland, thru Boulder and finally in Eldora. My mother Maud, Jay's youngest daughter, taught at the school shown in the pictures in the late 1930's. There was a school there before that Jay attended as a boy and was torn down or burned down. I'll try to locate a picture for you to add to site. Sincerely, Ed Hutchinson email@example.com
A viewer writes - Friday, September 10, 2010 - I was raised in Sunshine, my Grandmother was a teacher in Glendale in the 1920's, she had a cabin in Sunshine and after she retired one on Gold Hill Rd. My Dad and uncles were a rowdy lot. They were raised in the area too. My Grandma, Marie Tyrer is buried in the cemetery there. I have not been back since my Dad died. Please could you tell me the date she died. Rocky says 1968.
A viewer writes - Friday, September 17, 2010 - The town of Sunshine was hit by the 4 mile fire Sept 6, 2010. I know the school house survived. Not clear yet how many homes were burned. My friend's was. They bought the town jail back in the 60's and added on to make a lovely home. Thankfully, they were there when they got the call to evacuate so they managed to get their pets and some important things out.
A viewer writes - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 -- Great site... Lived in Sunshine, Colo. (town proper) from 1964 to 1968. Married to Thomas (Tuck) Gunn (born in sunshine and attended school there). Two of 4 of my children were born there. Many happy memories. Thomas passed away in 1976.
A lot of Gunn history and all are buried there in the Sunshine Cemetery. My father in law, Milton N. Gunn, was a hard rock miner and worked the Dolly 1 and 2 mines. Had a patent on another one but can't remember the name.
A viewer writes - Friday, April 29, 2011 -- The last time I visited Sunshine Cemetery was in 2006. Took lots of pictures of several relative's grave sites & markers. I've been worried if the cemetery was damaged by the fires. Hopefully I'll be able to see for myself soon. Thank you for all of the information on the site. Mrs. Dana Guy -- firstname.lastname@example.org
A viewer writes - Monday, August 22, 2011 -- I was real glad to see that Sunshine is still around. My Great-Grandfather L.E. Girard was a resident of Sunshine in the early 1900's. He ran a general store in Sunshine before becoming a State Senator for Colorado,
A viewer writes - Friday, September 09, 2011 -- Hi Mike. My wife Jean tipped me off to your page http://www.rockymountainprofiles.com/sunshine_colorado_cemetery.htm Nice job. It is good to see some photos of the Sunshine Cemetery from before the fire. While the cemetery burned, the stones were barely affected. The green has started to come back to the area and some of the lilacs are re-growing. There are a few photos on the page I had not seen before. Paul Gatza Treasurer - Sunshine Historical Society (formerly Sunshine Cemetery Association) email@example.com
A viewer writes - Wednesday July 23rd 2014 -- hisunshine hi Mike, I just found your website and loved it. My Great grandmother, Henrietta Glover lived there and her two sons were killed in a mine explosion, probably in the 1800's. their name was Glover. When I first went there, over 20 years ago, there was a nice GLOVER grave marker. We tookictures. when I went back a few years later, it had been taken. Who steals gravestones????
The accident was written up in local papers. Do any of your readers know anything about all this? I really enjoy reading about Sunshine and the olden days. Thank you. Regards. Robin Picardo. Robinwhiterobin@gmail.com
A viewer writes August 2017 – Sunshine and Jay Church
My grandfather, Jay Church, grew up in Sunshine. His mother died shortly after he was born in Mich. and his father gave him to his aunt to raise him. At about age 6 (1882) his father remarried and wanted him back. His aunt said okay (she was in Ohio) and said she would bring him. Instead she and her husband who by this time had bonded with Jay took off for Colorado and "hid" out in Sunshine and made a life there. Their names were Electra and Jim Dustin and they lived there at least 20 years or more. Jay did not see his father until he was 21. This is where Jay got his start in the freight business that later added stage coaches. He operated from Central City thru Nederland, thru Boulder and finally in Eldora.
My mother Maud, Jay's youngest daughter, taught at the school shown in the pictures in the late 1930's. There was a school there before that Jay attended as a boy and was torn down or burned down. I'll try to locate a picture for you to add to site.
When Jay was born, his mother died and his father did not think he could raise a child so he had his sister in Ohio take him. Six years later he remarried and wanted Jay back. His sister had bonded with Jay by then and wasn't about to give him back. She said she would bring him back to Michigan but instead went to Sunshine and basically hid out. Jay attended the original school that the present one replaced. He grew up there and started working in the mines until his best friend was killed in a mine explosion. He then set off on a teamster career hauling freight and stagecoaches throughout the region.
Jay operated freight wagons and stagecoaches through Eldora, Nederland, Boulder, Central City and all places in between. His wife, Minnie (Hiatt) worked at the Black Hawk Hotel in the late 1800's where they met. They set up housekeeping in Apex, a short distance from Central City and then owned and operated a livery stable/dance hall in Eldora until the mines played out. The livestock was kept in the bottom and the dancing was in the loft which was accessible from main street. The foundation is still there at least as of 2002.
He eventually settled in Eldora where he had a livery stable and dance hall. The dance hall was above the stable. He was running stages and had a livery on Pearl Street in Boulder that was a terminal of sorts for his stages and freight wagons making daily trips between Boulder and Eldora. When the mines played out, he lost everything but his horses and took them to a farm close to Broomfield. There are some interesting stories about him starting at that point.
My mother, Maud Church taught at the present schoolhouse during the 33-34 and 34-35 school years.
I have several pictures from the cemetery that I took the last time we were. Sunshine is a destination for us whenever we are in Colorado. Forrest is buried in that cemetery on top of his sister.
Sincerely, Ed Hutchinson firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out the Sunshine Cemetery story here.