Switzerland Trail - Ward Fire

              Ward, Colorado



The Switzerland Trail Railroad - New Tourism to Ward

The C & N Railroad narrow gauge railroad was built in 1898 to haul out gold ore and bring coal to operate the Ward mines. It signaled a significant change for the town. The C & N railroad route from Boulder to Ward became known as the Switzerland Trail of America and turned the mining town into a famous summer tourist destination

Switzerland Trail Railroad cut on Grassy Top outside of Ward, summer 2006



Downtown Ward, 1880-1899, J.B . Sturdevant


The Ward Fire Almost Destroyed Ward

January of 1900 brought a disastrous fire which burned 50 buildings and much of the central Ward Business District. Townspeople saved the Ward School and Congregational Church by wetting blankets and spreading them on the buildings' roofs. After the fire, some business rebuilt, but many people moved away.

Ward, Colorado before the big fire

After the Ward fire of 1900


End of a mining era 1920 - 1960's - Ward almost became a ghost town

When it became too expensive to mill and smelt the lower grade ores that were left in Ward, the mines gradually shut down. Train service to Ward stopped running in the winter, and finally in 1920, train service from Boulder ended and the rails were torn out. Most people left Ward and many old cabins were left.

A few locals like Emma Fairhurst and Hazel Schmoll worked to develop camps and summer tourism, but the population dwindled.

 Although Ward briefly came back when the Peak-to-Peak Highway was built in the late 1930's, Ward almost became a ghost town. Also see Early History of Ward.




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Unless otherwise indicated all black and white photographs courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, (Ward, Colorado; Mines; Switzerland Trail) or Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, Boulder Historical Society Collection

(PublicDomain-old-50 and /or PD-pre-1923/PD-USGov)