“It is extraordinary how many emotional storms one may weather in safety if one is ballasted with ever so little gold.”
Arbourville was less a mining town and more a stage stop along Monarch Pass, a social center, and a residence for miners who worked in Monarch. The town is tucked away in a beautiful Aspen tree grove just off of U.S. Highway 50 a short distance west of Maysville.
Arbourville had the usual businesses. It also happened to have the only brothel in the area, and Arbourville was quite busy because of it. There was also a smelter here to treat ore from the mines further up Monarch Pass. Some ranching was done, and a little mining, but not much. According to local newspapers, other towns in the area were rapidly expanding and making good progress, while Arbourville was content with its parlor house.
Arbourville should be remembered for the man who stayed: the old prospector, Frank Gimlett. When every other single person had left, Frank stayed. He was a hermit in every sense of the word. This place was his home, and he saw no reason to go. Among his many proclivities (which included writing books about and telling stories of the old days), it seems he had a thing for Ginger Rogers. In his passion and zeal, he started a letter-writing campaign to Washington to have the twin peaks visible from town renamed the Ginger Peaks. The government refused, though President Franklin Roosevelt did reply and sympathized with his great cause. Niceties aside, it never happened, and it upset Frank terribly. In response, he decided that he would send a bill for $50,000 to Congress. His reason? He explained that he had been guarding all of the ice and snow on the nearby mountains and that the government owed him back pay. After all, not even one shovelful had ever been removed during his watch. The government refused. Again. As the years crept by, Frank kept writing and telling his stories to passersby. He sold books and postcards to tourists in Salida to earn a living. He even published a nine-volume history of Colorado named Over the Trails of Yesterday.
Frank Gimlett passed away at 5:30 PM on Friday, February 1, 1952, and Arbourville passed into history. He was much beloved in nearby Salida and remembered fondly. Heaven gained a colorful and kindly man, while the world lost a great deal of character. Not forgotten, locals still refer to those peaks as the Ginger Peaks. Maybe Frank is still watching over all of that ice and snow.