The Many Rebirths of Ohio City, Colorado
As an Ohio native, seeing a sign for Ohio City while driving to Gunnison last summer immediately caught my attention. But does the almost abandoned Colorado mountain town have any connection to the mid-western state?
The area now known as Ohio City was originally established by gold miners in the 1860s, though at this time, those living there called it Eagle City. But, like many other mining towns across Colorado, once the supply of underground riches ran out, residents of Ohio City also followed suit.
However, the Colorado Silver Boom of 1879 brought prospectors and miners back into the Quartz Creek Valley area, located just northeast of Gunnison. A large vein was found in the region and as a result, Ohio City had a reawakening. Jacob Hess is considered to be the town's first settler, despite its inhabitants several years before.
In 1883 the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad was built through Ohio City, bringing more people through the area.
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During this second stint of life, approximately 250 people lived in Ohio City. A theater was built and with that came the formation of a brass band and orchestra. The tiny town even had its own newspaper, several civic organizations, and a baseball team.
But all of this didn't last for long.
Following the Silver Boom collapse in 1893, people once again left the unincorporated Colorado community. By 1898, the town was nearly deserted.
At the turn of the century, a third wave of citizens moved into Ohio City. In the early 1900s, the Tarkington family ran a restaurant out of one of the main buildings. After a few years of business, they sold the structure to the Town of Ohio City for use as a town hall.
A post office continued to serve Ohio City up until 1972.
Aside from a few year-round residents, Ohio City is now pretty much just a ghost town. The historic buildings are occasionally visited by tourists passing through, but the former mining town usually goes undisturbed most days.
Some of Ohio City's original buildings remain standing including the schoolhouse, jail, and city hall. A couple of cabins and old homes can also be found in the quiet community.
Upon acquiring the structure in 1974, Gunnison County officially designated the Ohio City Town Hall as a historic county landmark. After a multi-year restoration process, the beloved building at the corner of Miners Avenue and Main Street has now been restored to its former glory.
In 2022, a unique opportunity arose, giving someone the chance to buy most of what's left of Ohio City. The $595K offer features a liquor store, bar, restaurant, and charming general store - all situated right in the heart of town. Read more about it and check out photos of the 'Mother Lode' here. According to Zillow, the interesting listing is still on the market.
Will Ohio City see another comeback soon?
To find Ohio City from Gunnison: Take US-50 E for 11.5 miles. Then, turn left on County Road 76 and drive 8.7 miles until reaching Ohio City.
To answer the original question, no connection to the state of Ohio seems to be clear. It's possible that the miners who settled in the region the second time had ties to the already-established state, but that is a total guess. The word "Ohio" originated from the Native Americans, who translated ohi:yo as "the great river." The name of the fertile region of Colorado may have also gotten its title for this reason.