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Ghost Towns and Progress

Friends,

Progress, measured in quality of life improvements and enabled by technological infrastructure, seems inevitable. Agriculture, sanitation, transportation, communications, industrialization, healthcare, electrification and computing would all appear to follow a linear, upward trajectory. But, are we guaranteed a higher life expectancy, greater convenience and ever-increasing productivity? Not necessarily. It’s healthy to challenge the implied assumptions that progress is beneficial, universal, undeviating and unavoidable. Take ghost towns. Last week I had the opportunity to visit Inter-Laken, a late-1800s boomtown which once competed with Aspen for the affluent tourist’s dollar. The two mile hike to this abandoned relic begins with a dubious trail at the unmarked dead end of an unremarkable dirt road. The gorgeous trek takes you through lakeside rolling hills, lush with wildflowers and shaded by pine and aspen trees. Just when you think you’ve taken a wrong turn and doubt you’ll ever complete your quest, the quaint (and restored) hotel owner’s house appears. It feels just as out of place as the signs warning visitors not to pick-up dead bats. Then, as you keep going, the parts of the town not submerged in the 1970s reservoir, reveal themselves. Some are boarded-up. All are in various stages of disrepair. If progress is inevitable, Inter-Laken certainly has a different definition. After the hike, you can enjoy a donut at the nearby unincorporated town of Twin Lakes’ general store, just be careful the Sheriff parked there doesn’t catch you speeding. Actually, (and fittingly for a ghost town) the "officer" is just a mannequin --brilliant, if you ask me.




Happy Friday!

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