Tuesday, July 4, 2017

South Park City, CO - Part 1

Nestled in the centre of Colorado lies "South Park City", a historical collection of original buildings from the gold mining heydey of the mid-1800's, opened as a museum to the public in 1959. This museum is actually an extension of the historic main street in the town of Fairplay, which was established in 1859 during the Gold Rush. Fairplay only lies 15 miles east of the town of Leadville as the crow flies, but 72 miles by modern day road, or 85 miles south-west of Denver along highway 285.

South Park City

Perhaps Fairplay's main claim to fame is the fact that the TV series "South Park" is "virtually" based here, named after the area of grassland meadows that lies between the foothills and the Sawatch Mountains. Most people pass through Fairplay on the way to Buena Vista, Salida, Gunnison, and would be forgiven for thinking that the "South Park City" museum is a tourist trap, this is far from the truth though, as you will discover below.

J.A. Merriam Drug Store

The museum is made up of 35 original buildings, 7 of which are in their original location. All of the buildings are open to wander into, and each one is a museum within a museum, as you can see from the wonderfully decked out drug store above.

General Store, South Park Sentinel & Doctor's Office

Period pieces make the buildings come alive

The US forest ranger's building was particularly interesting to me since my profession is a Land Surveyor, old maps adorned the walls and other interesting artefacts. Far less appealing was the Dentist office, especially since I have just had the pleasure of having a cavity filled, although it did make me glad I was not living in the 1800's.

US Forest Ranger cabin and Dentist office

US Forest Ranger office

Dental Office & Barber

Back in the mid-1800's, if you were a carpenter, you likely also had the job of constructing coffins. The Carpenter Shop come Morgue displays early woodworking tools and relics associated with burial.

Carpenter Shop

No town is complete without a school, and South Park City has the original school house from a town 9 miles east of Fairplay. This school was built in 1879 and is furnished to match that time period.


1879 school house

In the days when horses were your only form of transportation and burros and oxen were used in mining, the Blacksmith was a very busy man. Not only did he re-shoe the working animals, but he also repaired mining equipment and wagons.


Blacksmiths building

Essential information:
South Park City website
Town of Fairplay

Link to PART 2

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