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The Park County courthouse, originally built in Buckskin Joe, was later moved to Fairplay, and is now in the South Park City Museum in Fairplay

Buckskin Joe, also called Laurette or Lauret, is a deserted ghost town in Colorado, United States. It was an early mining town, and county seat of Park County, Colorado.



The area was first settled by Americans in 1859 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, when gold was discovered along Buckskin Creek, on the east side of the Mosquito Range. At the time of its first settlement, the town was in the western part of Kansas Territory.

The town was formally organized in September 1860 and named Laurette, a contraction of the first names of the only two women in the camp.[1] But it was always more popularly known as Buckskin Joe, after Joseph Higginbottom, an early trapper and prospector. Little is known for certain about Higginbottom. Some accounts refer to him as an African-American, and others not; some accounts say that he was the one who first discovered gold in the vicinity of the town.

Mining shifted to rich hardrock deposits in the Phillips lode and other veins. By 1861, when the Laurette/Buckskin Joe Post Office opened, in the newly formed Colorado Territory, the town boasted two hotels, fourteen stores, and a bank. On January 7, 1862 the county seat of Park County moved to Buckskin Joe from Tarryall, now also a ghost town.[2] At its peak, the town was credited with a population of 5,000, but historian Robert L. Brown considers this number far too large.[3]

The placer and vein gold deposits were rich, but were quickly exhausted. By 1866, the town was reported to be deserted, and the courthouse building was moved down the valley to the new county seat of Fairplay. In the late 1950s, Horace Tabor's general store was dismantled, hauled away, and reassembled at the tourist attraction and movie set also called Buckskin Joe, 70 miles (110 km) away from the original site.

Notable residents

  • Silverheels (proper name unknown) was a popular dance hall girl at Buckskin Joe, and the subject of many apocryphal stories. Mount Silverheels is named after her.[4]
  • Horace Tabor, later a mining millionaire and U.S. senator, arrived in Buckskin Joe in 1861 and ran a store.


The site of Buckskin Joe is about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Alma, Colorado, at 39°17′35″N 106°05′17″W / 39.29306°N 106.08806°W / 39.29306; -106.08806, at an altitude of 10,761 feet (3,280 m) above mean sea level.

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