Payphones Still Exist and There’s Quite a Few in Colorado
More than seven billion people worldwide are mobile or smartphone owners/users, but before these existed, making calls from outside the home wasn't quite as convenient. Instead, coin-operated public telephones, often located in booths or high-traffic public areas would be used. The pay phone inside the booth is connected to the public telephone network, allowing individuals to make and receive calls.
Pay phones reached peak popularity in the 1990s. In 1999, there were approximately 2 million of these phone booths scattered across the country. However, the increased use of mobile phones has led to a decreased demand or need for pay telephones. Because most people now have a personal cell phone, many of the free-standing booths and kiosks have been removed. Currently, less than 100,000 of these communication devices are left in the United States.
Nowadays pay phones are pretty much considered to be pieces of the past, but it's unlikely they will ever completely disappear. In certain situations, like emergencies, or when one's cellphone becomes unusable, having access to a pay phone could be extremely helpful.
There are several spots to still find pay phones in Colorado.
One example is in front of Evergreen Station in Florissant.
Outside the pale green general store is a classic US West phone booth, that not only works but also provides free local calls. It looks like the booth even has a phone book inside, which transports visitors back to a time when people actually had to memorize numbers or look them up in the yellow and white pages.
US West was a regional telecommunications company established in Denver in 1984. They were eventually bought out by Qwest Communications International in 2000.
You can find this phone booth at 8722 County Road 1 in Teller County.
Another place to observe an antique pay phone is at Taggert’s Gas Station on Peak to Peak Highway in Black Hawk.
According to Reddit users, the coin slot on this bright red phone is broken, so only toll-free numbers, or numbers made with a prepaid calling card can be made. However, it does take incoming calls and will ring if called. The pay phone is located at the front of the building at 14936 CO SH 119.
Black Hawk is also home to a second pay phone, found at the Base Camp at Golden Gate gas station. The coin slot on this blue pay phone is not functioning, so only toll-free numbers, or calls that are made with a prepaid calling card. Those who have used it say the phone makes a clacking sound when the number is called, but the call does not connect when the receiver is picked up. Rather, the caller will hear "Error 48" on the other end.
The phone is to the left of the front door, under the A-frame at 661 CO SH 46.
Several King Soopers and Safeway stores throughout Colorado have pay phones standing out front near the fuel center. One of those is right here in Northern Colorado, at the Safeway gas station in Windsor.
Below is another stand-alone pay phone at the King Soopers Fuel Center at 3005 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. This phone does not accept incoming calls and the card reader reportedly does not work.
A list of additional working pay phones at those grocery store/fuel center chains can be found here.
Inside the front doors of Denver's Lookin’ Good Restaurant and Lounge is a sleek silver pay phone that works to dial out, but does not accept incoming calls. Coins must be used to make calls as there is no card reader on this model.
Arguably the coolest example of an old-timey phone booth in Colorado, is this one, in the wilderness near Telluride.
According to 9News, the red phone booth sits on private property and belongs to an event venue called The Alta Lakes Observatory. Although there is an actual phone installed inside, it doesn't work. However, hikers strolling by are welcome to snap a photo of the vintage structure.
A Colorado Facebook user mentions finding another pay phone on Forest Service Road 250 in the San Juan National Forest by Ruybalid Trail #855. This one is just before the tiny town of Platoro in the San Luis Valley. Another active phone booth sits all by its lonesome near Dunton, Colorado. These can be especially helpful in remote areas where there is little to no cellphone service.
4 Uses For Your Phone Book
Gallery Credit: Ed Nice