Colorado Resort Adventure Guide

Southwest Region
South Park City, Fairplay, CO

by Dawn Janov
Colorado Living ghost town of South Park City

Yes, there really is a South Park City, and it is not the cartoon. This is a real ghost town beautifully restored on one street within the present day town of Fairplay, Colorado—known today for its Burro Racing.

Starting with seven buildings on their original sites and adding others from nearby abandoned camps and ghost towns, this outdoor museum was formed. You can actually walk through these historic 34 buildings, imagine the people who lived and worked here, and feel the warmth and life of the bygone mining days of the late 1800s.

Homes, bar, stable, blacksmith, school house, doctor office, dentist office, drug store, ore processing building, a railroad station, a narrow gauge steam engine with a caboose, old transportation vehicles, a brewery and a chapel line up along the street's wooden boardwalk.

South Park City Drug Store

Walk through a front door of one of the many homes into period furnishings, knickknack, and hand made rugs. Brass beds with hand made quilts, alongside photographs of residents, clothes and hats hanging nearby. In the kitchen, odd utensils and butter churns that were used everyday and shelves filled with home canned goods and staples. Any minute one might expect people from the past to appear and welcome you.

The one room schoolhouse will surprise your children who will be amazed at the tiny house with so few seats where all the grades were taught together.

The beautiful chapel gives you insight into the spiritual needs of the community.

On the far side of the street is a huge faded red three-story ore crushing plant. Pulleys hauling the ore into the crusher are faintly damp with a dirt smell still and the light filtering through the cracks in the wall light up the metal equipment in a most unusual way. Listen closely and you might hear the load, noisy equipment in operation for the workforce of a past era.

Visit a bar and hear the echoes of a rowdy throng, the piano player setting the beat, the card players serious intent, and perhaps a barmaid, flirting with the cowboys and miners.

Horses and the blacksmith shop were necessary to keep things moving. Buckboard, covered wagon, stagecoach, a black hearse, sled and other forms of transportation were displayed in a side courtyard. A sidesaddle puzzles the young ones in the stable where you can almost hear the horses chewing the hay and grain, shuffling through the straw in their stalls.

South Park City Railroad Depot

Walk into the railroad depot and pretend you are buying a ticket, continue outside to the grass captured rails of a narrow gauge train. Get on board the caboose, climb up the narrow ladder inside and look out just like a railroad man. Sit on their bunk beds, imagine cooking on the wood stove and sitting for dinner at the tiny table.

Professions of doctor, dentist and druggist round out the town's needs. A little scary to see the tools they used and the type of remedies the population bought. There is so much to see and explore as you clomp along the wooden boardwalk, dipping into building after building. It is hard to leave.

This is the restored town of South Park City.

  • Season: Open daily May 15th through October 15th
  • Admission: $6.50 Adults, $5 seniors 62 and older, $3 children 6-12
  • Hours: 9 am - 7 pm Memorial Day through Labor Day
    9 am - 5 pm before Memorial Day and after Labor Day
  • Directions: 85 miles from Denver on Highway 285
    85 miles from Colorado Springs on Highway 24
    23 miles from Breckenridge on Highway 9
  • Address: South Park Historical Foundation, Inc.
    PO Box 634, Fairplay, CO 80440
  • Phone: (719) 836-2387

photos used by permission South Park Historical Foundation, Inc.

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