Volume II No. 2

Fairplay, Colorado


Our Mission Statement:

To acquire, refurbish, and interpret artifacts and historic structures unique to a 19th century Colorado mining town; and to maintain exhibits that best represent to visitors the typical personal and professional lifestyles of that period.

The Story of South Park City
Summary by Harley Hamilton and Bernie Nagy

The idea was conceived in 1957 by Leon Snyder, an attorney from Colorado Springs. He contacted other individuals who were concerned about the neglect and vandalism that were taking a toll on the remains of the local mining era. They organized the South Park Historical Foundation that year and purchased the area of Fairplay now called South Park City. "South Park City" was the name of the town from 1869 to 1874 prior to the name being changed to Fairplay by territorial legislature. During 1957 and 1958 historic buildings from the county were moved to the site and added to the seven existing buildings, those being the South Park Brewery, the Sumner Saloon, the Pioneer Home, the Mayer House, the Transportation Sheds and the Smoke House.

In addition to the structures, the families of Park County embraced the historic preservation idea and contributed roughly 40,000 items. In 1959, 100 years from the first Gold find at Tarryall Creek, South Park City was opened to the public. During the ensuing years other buildings have been moved to the South Park City Museum site. Currently there are 43 buildings and structures and over 60,000 artifacts that portray the economic and social aspects of an 1860 to 1890’s mining town and restorations of the Historic buildings and displays are ongoing constantly.

Help us celebrate our 50th Anniversary by visiting Fairplay’s unique South Park City Museum and its 2007 Events. Be a part of history and perhaps contribute with your membership or donation to the cause of the “South Park Historical Foundation”.

South Park City Front Street 1956

South Park City towards Pikes Peak Region 2006

The Museums "1870 Barber Shop" got a new facelift this spring
Excerpts from A Town is Born by E.J.”Gene” Amitrani and edited by Bernie Nagy

In the 1870’s dirt-caked miners came into town displaying long shaggy hair and whiskers. For this rough-looking bunch, the first stop was the barber shop to get a shave, haircut and that much need hot bath. This was the place where “the action was” on Saturday  and where the men met before a night out on the town.

Bottles of German Cologne and sweet smelling facial cream are displayed in an antique cabinet. There are hundreds of artifacts on pioneer accessories from shaving brushes, razors and leather sharpening straps as well as plenty of mirrors on view in every  corner. In the adjoining room two tin  bathtubs wait to be filled with   steaming hot water from pails atop the burning pot-belly stove. Imagine the stories that were told in this all-male  Imporium as the miners scrubbed themselves with long handled bristle brushes to get rid of the sand and grime. The talk of a new gold strike, or some intriguing town gossip was sure to be spread around.

With a new haircut and a clean shave, the freshly bathed  miners went to Rache’s gambling saloon for dancing, drinking and a good time before heading the next morning with new supplies and their burros back to the mining holes way up the mountain.

From the President:
By Harley Hamilton

In this 2007 anniversary year budget we have included several restoration projects for some of our other buildings; the R.R. depot, Merriam Drug store, Rache's saloon and the South Park Brewery. Work will continue on finishing the painting of the caboose and steam engine, which would complete the restoration of all the railroad cars including the steam engine. We received a $1,500 contribution from the Rosenstock Foundation for the drug store exhibits restoration. 

The other major restoration project for this year, besides the Mining building, will be the South Park Brewery building. This 3-story, red sandstone building was the Leonhard Sumner Brewery built  around 1879. One of the beers produced here was called South Park Lager. Today this building serves as one of our featured exhibit areas, showing the history of South Park from the early Indian days, to explorers, miners, ranchers and pioneer life.  After 126 years, the building is showing signs of its age, foundation failure in places,sagging roof structures, window frame deterioration and needed stone repairs.

This year our Fountation received a $7,900 grant from the State Historical Society to do an architectural assessment as to more closely define all the problems. After the assessment has been completed we will look for further contributions and grant assistance. 

From the  Director:
By Carol Davis

Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits! And then some! When working with 100+ year- old buildings one must always be prepared for surprises and most of them are not necessarily pleasant. A couple of years ago, it was decided to replace some of the siding on the Dentist Office/ Barber Shop building. The removal of the weathered siding uncovered some additional problems with the Barber Shop area, including rotting timbers, an inadequate number of floor joists and a "floating" wall, yearning to be wed to the foundation. Needless to say, the project required a lot more time than the anticipated cosmetic fix. Two years and a bunch of dollars later, the building sports not only the initially planned siding and paint job, but the Barber Shop has a new foundation, new floors, new window frames, and an upgraded and beautifully appointed exhibit. The barber is in, but we think he may have raised his rates.

Another project under-taken in 2006 was the "critter- proofing" of the shelving units in Simpkin's General Store and the reorganization of the items in those units.  Looking for a bottle of bleach?  It'll be with the rest of the laundry products.  We trust this will make your shopping chores easier.

The Como hearse was among the missing for most of the 2006 season. It spent the summer at the Woolly Bear Farm in Nathrop, Colorado, where wagon restorationist, Charles Abel, worked his magic. An early snowstorm adversely affected some of our planned projects, but look for facelifts on the Doctor's Office, Alma Bank, Merriam Drug Store and more of the railroad equipment during the 2007 season. 

A Town is Born- The Story of South Park City.

"Where the Air is thin,
And the Wind blows free,
And the mountains touch the Sky,
A Town was Born."

116 Pages, Softbound, over 93 photos, drawings and maps.

This is the story of each building at South Park City, where it came from and how it was moved to its present location. This is the story of Mr. Leon Snyder’s dream. Through his dynamic personality and leadership South Park City became a reality and celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2007. "A town is born" should be a part of your library to share with your family and friends. They all will want to visit South Park City in 2007, which is an authentic recreation of a 19th Century Colorado Mining town home in 20th Century Fairplay, South Park, Colorado.

"I know there is no other town like this anywhere", EJ."Gene"Amitrani, author.

A treasury for your own library or order this book now for family and friends!

Send a check for $7.50 plus $6.00 for shipping, handling and tax to:

South Park City Museum
P.O. Box 634
Fairplay, CO 80440

Editors Choice!  Just published!
by Linda Bjorklund

129 Pages, softbound, over 25 pictures and illustrations

Everything you always wanted to know about the long eared braying beast. Including history and
scientific description,fables and fiction, true stories of Prunes, Shorty and others-  the miners' friends and helpers. Includes story of  burro races and much more of the diminutive animal that played such an important part in our history.

Send payment of $12.95 plus $6.00 for shipping, handling and tax to

South Park City Museum
P.O. Box 634,
Fairplay, CO 80440

This Book is also available through the Museum's gift store.

How Sweet It Is
By Carol Davis

We were sure that the clue-bearing paragraph in the 2006 Spring newsletter would direct readers to Rache's Place (where an 1897 book on the fine art of playing poker was deliberately left up-side down) and ultimately, to a free candy stick just for noticing and asking a Company Store clerk about the irregularity.

Alas, very few patrons cashed in! In celebration of our 50th Anniversary,  we want to give away lots of the sweet stuff, so locating the featured anachronism has been made so easy even the youngest visitors should be able to do it.  We're not toying with you!  This is child's play and we expect to be inundated with a deluge of questions.

Robbery along the South Park Train Route
Fictional Story by Linda Nagy

In 1885, the railroads were busy bringing supplies from Denver into South Park and beyond. Ross loved his job as engineer even though his large frame seemed a little out of place in the narrow gauge train he was conducting. He pulled his train into Como to take on water for the steam engine and headed out again for Alma thinking that soon he would see his lovely lady friend, Madam Ever-ready.

The train chugged along the route until it slowed on the incline before Red Hills Pass. Suddenly, there in front of the train Ross saw two armed men waiting on horseback ahead brandishing guns. Ross yelled to the brakeman and the train came to a screeching noisy halt.

The two bandits wasted no timecollecting the loot from the train including the $100 bill that Ross had in his pocketrepresenting months of saving and $20.00, which he won in a poker game.  In a matter of minutes, the bandits were off again, their horses kicking up a cloud of dust.

Staged "Fictional" photographs of the Train robbery with a Happy ending taken on 2006 "History Day"by Bernie Nagy (Location - South Park City. Actors Jim Witt, Russ Peterson, Harley Hamilton, Jadine and an unknown Mexican horsemen)

Later the two walked into Rache's  saloon and gambling hall in Alma. The tall blond bandit spotted Madam Ever-Ready and began making advances. She was always looking for a good income while working the night shift.  The handsome bandit left her next morning with a nice tip for the one night stand.

Madame Ever-ready heard later what had happened to her railroad friend. She was glad that Ross was not harmed and that they were together again. As he held her in his arms, she slipped the newly acquired $100 bill into his pocket and dreamed about starting a new life with him in Panama.

As far as the robbers, they were last seen heading south to Mexico.


Our smithy and wagon master is in desparate need of Old Wagon wheels in sizes 36”, 38” and 48” for restorations of museum buggies and wagons. If you would like to donate one or more wheels in good condition, please call us.

Help is also needed to do minor repairs and painting/ sealing some of our wagons.

Need a backhoe/loader and operator to move old farm equipment, dig out a bank of dirt/rock and reposition the mining hydraulic nozzles. Your work or donation is tax deductible.

BOARD MEMBERS WANTED!  If your are interested in Park County’s  local mining history and have time to spare,  come

work with dedicated members in keeping South Park City alive for future generations to come - WE NEED YOU! Please call us.

The South Park City Sentinel Newsletter© is published quarterly and mailed free to active members and available at the museums office.

The South Park City Sentinel Newsletter© is published quarterly and mailed free to active members and is available at the museums office.

Photography by Bernie Nagy - nagybernd@yahoo.com