St. Elmo, once known as Forest City, was settled by miners in the 1870s to fill the need for labor in the local mines. Residents of the town were employed by the hundreds, as they extracted millions of dollars worth of gold and silver.
The town grew to its heights after the Alpine Tunnel west was completed, at the time the most expensive and highest altitude rail line ever constructed. The Alpine Tunnel west led directly to St. Elmo and allowed the town to reach around 2,000 residents in 1881.
The town originally had only a handful of restaurants, a few hotels, a newspaper, and a diverse number of other businesses. St. Elmo was a typical frontier town and relied heavily on the mining industry. The latter half of the 1880s would bring a slow death to the town. Many of the mines were producing a low-grade ore that made for a less than profitable endeavor. In 1890, a major fire ripped through the area causing a portion of the town, mostly the commercial district, to burn. After structures were rebuilt, eight years later a second fire left most of the town in ruins.
The town continued to experience ups and downs through the 1900s. The tunnel closed in 1910 and soon the rails were removed. It’s not so much a ghost town anymore as there are a few residents nearby. The locals own all of the historic buildings and work to preserve them. Donation boxes are littered around the town to help with restoration efforts.