My aunt Jennifer and uncle John like to go on different outings, and they inspired me to stop at a variety of old mining towns that I generally pass by on the way to my next hike.
My first stop of the day was in Como. Como owes its existence to the railroad and mines. Gold, discovered nearby in 1859, lured miners and later ranchers to area. Soon coal was discovered too. For trains, which ran on coal, this was the first source of coal after leaving Denver. As such, in 1881, the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railway built a roundhouse and depot in Como. This once thriving town, named by Italian miners from Lake Como, met its demise after multiple railroad reorgs and a final removal of tracks in 1938.
Regardless, there are still cool buildings in the town including the roundhouse, the depot, an old hotel, an old Catholic church, and an old school house. I got lucky and arrived when a gentleman had just finished giving a tour of the otherwise closed roundhouse. He let me walk around the property and then unlocked the door to let me in to see an old locomotive and printing equipment!
My next stop was Alma, the highest incorporated municipality (town not city) in North America. There wasn’t much to see in this small town, though it is possible to grab a beer at the highest bar, South Park Saloon. Alma is a good portal to bag a few peaks. The Decalibron Loop is a popular nearby hike that helps peak baggers mark off four fourteeners: Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross!
SOUTH PARK CITY
From Alma, I continued on to South Park City, a historical area next to Fairplay which is supported by the South Park Historical Foundation. South Park City is a collection of old buildings, some on their original site and some moved to this now museum. Inside the buildings are all sorts of collections of rocks, minerals, irons, and period items.
I personally loved the mining mill, the doctor’s office, the school house, the blacksmith shop, the bank, the general store, and the drugstore. The variety of tools, drugs, compressors, lunch boxes, and medical supplies were simply fantastic. At first I thought the $10 entry fee was a bit steep, but after visiting, it was worth every penny. I probably spent at least an hour, maybe two, wandering around the 40 buildings!
LOST PARK ROAD
Finally, I just took a drive down Lost Park Road. I had been there before to hike Segment 5 of the Colorado Trail, but several back roads connect to it that I have never explored. And what a time to explore, during the fall and changing colors. What a nice day! ETB