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Monday, January 13, 2020

Colorado's Ghost Town Lodge



The rich heritage of American Freemasonry as it expanded westward throughout the 19th century can still be found carefully preserved around the country - usually in unusual places. There is a great story today on the Colorado Public Radio website about Colorado's historic Nevada Lodge No. 4, which still operates as a working lodge today in the ghost town of Nevadaville.

From 'Why Freemasons Still Lurk In The Ghost Town Of Nevadaville, Colorado' by Natasha Watts:



If you take exit 243 off Interstate 70, you’re most likely headed for the glittery casinos of Central City and Black Hawk. But make a wrong turn on your way up the mountain, and you may end up in a ghost town.

In the 1800s, Nevadaville, Colorado bustled with gold miners. Today, only a few buildings stand, relics of the Old West version of our state that’s hard to find anymore. An old trading post, a saloon and a tiny town hall dot the dusty main drag.

You’ll also find some Freemasons.

Once a month, they converge upon Nevadaville to practice their rituals in a building built by brothers from another time.

[snip]

There are just under two million Masons in America. The basic unit of Masonry is the Lodge, which is what the group that meets in Nevadaville is called: Nevada Lodge #4.

Colorado’s only ghost town lodge was built in the 1870s. It’s still around today thanks to the efforts of Masons through the decades to preserve this piece of history. The lodge meeting room still possesses the original wallpaper and wainscoting, according to Patrick Dey, Worshipful Master of Nevada Lodge #4. (The lofty-sounding title basically means he’s the current elected leader of the group.)

Dey says the lodge room in Nevadaville has impressed many an outsider, including members of other local lodges who come to the ghost town for initiation. Typically pledges are led in blindfolded, and “when it comes off... I always hear them go, ‘wow.’ Just to be in that room during that is such an experience.”

For Nevadaville miners in the late 1800s, Masonic membership was something to aspire to. Back then, Dey says dues were $4 a year. The average miner made $1 a week, so that constituted a month’s wages.

Being a lodge member gave a man wealth and status, as well as an assurance that his brethren would help pay for medical needs or after-death expenses. Think of it as Old West health and life insurance.

Brothers still help each other monetarily as needed, but Dey says the main draw now is old fashioned, face-to-face connection — something hard to find in the digital age.

“Up here in Nevadaville, we don’t get good cell phone reception, so you don’t have to worry about guys sitting there playing on their phones in lodge...” Dey says. “So hang out, enjoy yourself. You’re in a ghost town!”

An architectural designer by day, Dey is obviously passionate about the preservation of the building. He and his brothers come up frequently to do restoration work. Sometimes, when they stay late, they’ll sleep overnight in the old building. To him, it feels like communing with the past...




READ THE REST (or listen to the radio version) HERE

Colorado's Nevada Lodge 4 was established in 1861 in the mountains west of Denver. For more information about the lodge and its meetings, check the website HERE.

If you're traveling in Colorado there are a wealth of Masonic historic sightseeing possibilities:

Denver Lodge No. 5 - Colorado's oldest chartered lodge (1859). Meets in beautiful Denver Masonic Hall (b. 1889) at 16th and Welton Streets. Red sandstone exterior building was gutted by fire in 1984, and completely rebuilt inside.

•Denver Airport - the conspiracy lovers' dream. Masonic dedication marker and time capsule in main passenger terminal, creepy murals (by artist Leo Tanguma), swastika runways, underground tunnels, 'alien' vocabulary embedded in the floor, Satanic blue horse sculpture - it's all there, and more.

•Fairplay - Lodge Room Over Simpkin's Store (South Park City Historical Site, 100 4th Street, Fairplay, CO)

•Leadville - Corinthian Lodge No. 35 (b.1910; chartered 1882), highest altitude active US lodge (10,152 ft).

Pike's Peak Cryptic Masonic Monument

1 comment:

  1. That lodge room so cozy and inviting ! Absolutely marvelously decorated and fitted out.....

    ReplyDelete

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