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|South Park and area ghost towns, Colorado
by Carl Burnham
In traveling west from the Pike's Peak area, we headed to the South Park area to see some ghost towns. We took Hwy 285 down to Fairplay, Colorado. It is a partially winding road until it reaches the bottom of a valley, which is the South Park basin where the old towns of Jefferson and Como are.
I visited the old Jefferson Railroad Depot, built in 1879, now a store. Be sure to stop in, shop, and sample their burgers. We then drove through Como, which is being restored by a private investor. Each of these towns were thriving in the late 1800s during the gold and silver mining rush in the area. In the early 1930s, the railroad line was discontinued to the towns, and the population declined. It was interesting to see the old buildings and imagine what the towns used to look like in their heyday. We saw numerous mountain peaks in the distance with snow on them.
In Fairplay, we spent the rest of the afternoon at South Park City, which is an authentic restoration of a Colorado mining town between 1860 to 1900. It includes buildings moved from area ghost towns, including a school, saloon, general store, courthouse, drug store, railroad station, and assay office (where appraisals were made on miner "finds"). Plan to spend many hours here so that you can meander through the buildings, and imagine how it used to be. If you are as nostalgic as me, you'll spend most of the day here. There is also a vintage Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad narrow gauge steam locomotive, railcars, wooden wagons, and numerous mining memorabilia. Be sure to also read our features highlighting the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and area ghost towns from our travels to southwest Colorado.
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