September 6, 2013

Special showing of ‘Ghosts of the West’ Sept. 14 in Alma
A history of the West, filmed partially in Park County

Laura Van Dusen, Correspondent


Lasting impression

The hotel on the movie poster for “Ghosts of the West” made a lasting impression on writer/director Ethat Knightchilde. “How can you not wonder what the town was like with a building like that staring back at you?” he asked. (Poster courtesy of Knight Sky Pictures)

A film 10 years in the making – shot in the ghost towns of Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona and called “Ghosts of the West: The End of the Bonanza Trail” – will have a special showing at the Alma Town Hall on Sept. 14.

In Park County, scenes were shot in South Park City, Fairplay, Alma, Buckskin Joe and Como, among other towns in the county and in the central Colorado mountains.

It’s a film made “to document the remaining ghost towns and mining camps of the American West,” where “the old hotels and saloons stand in mute testimony to a fabled past,” according to a news release about the showing. It’s about “lost mines, abandoned diggings, ghost towns.”

Writer and director Ethan Knightchilde said that “hours upon hours of film and hundreds of photos” were shot during production. “And only a fraction of that made it into the final cut.”

Not all of the scenes shot in Park County made it into the documentary, but “Colorado easily takes first place in terms of total screen time,” he said.

The 57-minute film was completed last fall and has been shown to sold-out audiences in Estes Park, Fort Collins, Durango and Saguache. Comment cards completed by attendees rated the film “an average score of 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being ‘hated it’ and 5 being ‘loved it,’” said Knightchilde.

It is also recognized as outstanding by the film industry. It was named Best Documentary at the annual Filmed in Utah Award Ceremony in February.

Audiences in Colorado may recognize the contribution of Tom Noel, history professor and director of public history, preservation and Colorado studies at the University of Colorado, Denver. He has written books, articles and columns on Colorado history and for his expertise is known as “Dr. Colorado.”

Noel was interviewed in the film as an expert of the history of the Colorado towns during their boom years. Regarding South Park, he told The Flume, “South Park has such spectacular scenery. Looking down from Kenosha Pass on the vast grassy expanses of South Park is one of Colorado’s most cinematic glories. Oddly, Park County has been mostly ignored by movie makers. A notable exception is Ethan Knightchilde’s just- released ‘Ghosts of the West.’”

Knightchilde said that one sight in the course of the filming that has stayed with him is the grave marker of sisters Sadie and Gertie Mullins, “not quite aged 3 and barely aged 1,” near St. Elmo, Colo. The grave marker says, “Born two years apart, died one day apart, buried a hand apart.”

Tickets are available at South Park City Visitor Center, 100 4th Street, Fairplay, or through its website, www.southparkcity.org. The cost is $6 in advance and $8 at the door. The showing is at 7 p.m., and doors open at 6:30 p.m. at the Alma Town Hall, 59 Buckskin St., in Alma.