DENVER (KDVR) — You might think that to have a town, you would have to have at least a few people who actually live in it.
Well, you would be wrong – at least in Colorado.
Carbonate, located north of Glenwood Springs in Garfield County, is an official municipality, according to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
It has a yearly budget, a town clerk, a board of trustees and more, aligning it with other towns in Colorado.
There is one key difference between it and other towns, however: The official population of Carbonate is zero and has been for a very long time.
How is this possible?
Carbonate was officially reinstated as a town in 2014 through a unanimous election, having been originally formed in 1883 and never officially abandoned, according to a petition.
The town is 640 acres, around 1 square mile, and most of that is publicly owned and held by the U.S. Forest Service. Around 79 acres is held by private owners.
While the population now is zero, the town wasn’t always so barren.
According to a petition, the population fluctuated between 3,000 to 5,000 people in the early 1880s. It even had a post office until Thanksgiving 1886 when the mailman froze to death.
Other small towns of Colorado
With a population of zero, Carbonate is, officially, the smallest official town in Colorado.
The second-smallest might come as a surprise, though: Lakeside in Jefferson County.
Only 16 people lived in Lakeside as of the 2020 Census.
Five towns in Colorado had an official population under 50 as of the 2020 Census:
- Carbonate – 0
- Lakeside – 16
- Bonanza City – 17
- Two Buttes – 34
- Sawpit – 38
Denver, in comparison, had a population of 715,522 in 2020.