Election to dissolve Bonanza, pop. 1, saves it instead

The old mining town of Bonanza, about three hours west of Pueblo, will not be declared abandoned under state law.

The Colorado Secretary of State said Tuesday that's partially due to a 2009 election in which Bonanza's residents voted to dissolve the town by a vote of 11 to 10. The margin wasn't enough to meet the two-thirds majority required.

The election did, however, show evidence of a functioning government, according to the state. Colorado law says a town may be declared abandoned if it fails to maintain a government and hold elections for five years.

Saguache County started its push to send Bonanza to the history books in 2013. It argued the town doesn't have the resources to fulfill its duties. The Saguache County administration office wasn't prepared to comment immediately. CPR News left a message for Linda Joseph, who chairs the county commission.

Passionate issue

In a press release, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert thanked people on both sides of the issues for their "passion and civic engagement." 

“While the evidence supports preserving the town, the future of Bonanza lies with its only resident,” Staiert said.

That resident is Mark Perkovich, the only person to live in Bonanza year-round. (Others spend summer months in the area, which is popular among hunters and ATV enthusiasts.) He told "Colorado Matters" earlier this year that he likes living there and wouldn't know where else to live if he had to move. 

He admitted though that Bonanza's usefulness as an incorporated town has long past. The last mayor died about five years ago and wasn't replaced.

Philip Lunt has family roots in Bonanza that go back generations. He helped lead opposition to the abandonment proceedings and said the Secretary of State's ruling was "great." Lunt lives in Pratt, Kansas, but recalls spending springs and summers in his Bonanza cabin.
 
"My wife and I would go out there with the family for summer vacation," Lunt said. "We just loved it out there, you know, it was peaceful, quiet. It was where you could take adolescent children and they didn't have a phone, TV -- they couldn't do anything except fish and read."
 

Bonanza boomed in the 1880s, when miners found a large vein of silver.  Population peaked around 1,000 but dwindled as the mines ran dry. By 1937, when a fire tore through town, most of the population had already left.

The town would not have been the first to disappear from the map. In the last 10 years, the Secretary of State has removed 43 towns in Colorado from the rolls.

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