Burro Room

The one-time office of the Longenbaugh Ice and Coal Company, a pioneer business of Fairplay, still stands on its original site. The inside has been refurbished into the Burro Room. The exhibit is dedicated to the lowly burros known as “Rocky Mountain Canaries” for their charming vocal serenades. The Rocky Mountain Canary, a faithful and loyal beast of burden, made possible the mining of gold in the high country. The burro was sure-footed, patient, and could be trusted as a courier of heavy mining equipment. Step-by-step up steep mountain trails trekked the reliable animal to the mines, returning with pack- saddles loaded with high grade ore.

Rare pictures of burro pack trains on trails above Alma are displayed on the Burro Room walls. One such photo shows Lew Hoffman in charge of a pack train ready to leave Alma for the mines. The burros are loaded down with mine buckets, timbers, bellows and other gear. The year is approximately 1878. Other pictures show Ed Snell’s “Jack Train”, a name used for the burro trains, loaded with gold ore at the North London Mine. The men who handled the trains of jacks were called “Jack Whackers”, a very appropriate and descriptive name.