Tincup Ghost Town & Cemetery

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With Day 3’s daylight quickly slipping away, I drove from Taylor Park Reservoir out to the semi-ghost town of Tincup for a quick look around.

From Taylor Park Reservoir, take County Road 765 towards Cumberland Pass. Tincup is about 8 miles from the reservoir. To find the cemetery, drive straight through Tincup, then watch for some small signs (you will make a left, then another left).

As ghost towns go, Tincup (or Tin Cup) may or may not qualify.  It certainly felt like the only occupants were unseen spirits during my early-evening visit.  But it’s obvious that some people still live here, judging by the number of “no parking” signs.  The town’s buildings are all on private property, so you can’t park wherever you’d like, or wander around and peek in windows.  In my humble opinion, that’s enough to disqualify Tincup from ghost town status.

Tincup’s centerpiece is the town hall, which doubles as a church on Sundays.  It was built in 1903, at a time when about 2,000 people lived here.

Standing in the middle of the intersection next to the town hall, I got a good view of the entire town.  Some of those houses are still in use…

… while others are well-preserved, but boarded shut.

 

There are only a couple of businesses in town.  One of them, Frenchy’s, is a restaurant on the far side of this reflecting pond, just off Grand Avenue (CR 765).  It was closed when I was there…

… and so was the town’s old gas station, which now serves as a gift shop.  The ancient pumps remain out front.

Tincup received its name from an early explorer, who panned for gold nearby, then carried his findings in a tin cup.

Tincup Cemetery

If the town isn’t ghostly enough for you, the cemetery will be.  Tincup’s burial ground is divided into several sections, on knolls, surrounded by water.  From the parking area, you have to walk across this bridge to reach the knolls.

Each religion has its own knoll.  You’ll come to the Catholic Knoll first.  It’s sparsely populated, or perhaps it’s just difficult to spot the long-forgotten graves.

Kari Smith from Woodland Park, CO writes: I loved the cemetery at Tin Cup but you didn’t mention anything about the single African American grave that was way off in the woods. I wasn’t sure if you had noticed it…I also saw your trip from Cripple Creek/ Victor to Manitou and Colorado Springs. I’m sorry you didnt like the fossil beds maybe next time you should try Paradise Falls on the west side of Cripple Creek or the 4WD trail up China Wall, its pretty hairy. Our Wrangler barely made it a few years back.

There are a few clearly-marked gravesites on the Catholic Knoll, like this one, surrounded by a fence.  Any writing on the wooden tombstone faded away decades ago.

Across another bridge, you’ll find the Protestant Knoll, which stretches back into the forest.

There are plenty of graves here.  Some are family plots, fenced off from the surrounding graves…

… while others are (surprisingly) clearly marked.

The child who lies here was only five years old when she died, back in 1880.

I was only able to spot a few gravesites on the Jewish Knoll, and only one had a tombstone:

A friend pointed out the stones lying around the base of the tombstone.  I had assumed they were placed there to hold the board in place, but she told me they were likely placed there by loved ones, instead of flowers.

You’ll need to apply a generous layer of insect repellent for your visit to the cemetery.  I was attacked by dozens of merciless mosquitoes, that loved to bite me every time I stopped to take a picture. 

Just a few miles away, another pass over the Continental Divide awaited, at Cumberland Pass.  Unfortunately, it was still snow-covered, and impassable (as of early June).

As you leave Tincup, you have three choices: 1) backtrack to Taylor Park Reservoir, then back to CO 135, which will take you to Gunnison or Crested Butte, 2) keep heading south on CR 765 over Cumberland Pass, then through Pitkin, Ohio City, and eventually US 50, or 3) go over Tincup Pass to the ghost town of St. Elmo, and eventually US 285. I had originally hoped to take Cumberland Pass, but un-melted snow ruined my plans. I had already ruled out Tincup Pass, since it appears to be a pretty rough, 4-wheel-drive road. That left me with one option: backtrack to Gunnison.

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