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Dedicated to the memory of Reverend John Lewis Dyer, this building is a tribute to those men who provided spiritual guidance in the early mining camps. Father Dyer, known as the "Snowshoe Itinerant," was a Methodist circuit rider (a type of traveling preacher) who served in South Park from 1863 to 1877. He was selected as one of the Founders of Colorado and is honored in a stained glass window in the state capitol dome.
This red sandstone smokehouse with a rough wooden door and racks for hanging meat is built into a hillside on its original site between the Chapel and the Brewery. The inside walls are still blackened by the smoke from fires that once burned inside. The Smokehouse was built during the late 1800s by Leonhard Summer and was one of his several business interests. It supplied his grocery and butcher shop with smoked bacon, hams, and sausages. The Smokehouse was designated a Park County Historic Landmark in 2009.
The South Park Brewery (originally the Summer Brewery) is one of the South Park City's largest structures and houses the "Bayou Salado" exhibit. The Brewery was built by Leonhard Summer and his brothers in the 1870s to directly supply the nearby Summer Saloon with beer rather than waiting for shipments from Denver. The three-story building is constructed of native red sandstone quarried in the vicinity of Red Hill Pass. One enters the brewery through a doorway that leads to a flight of narrow steps to the basement of the ice room. Here, a short slide show, accompanied by narration and music, portrays the history of South Park and its residents. The script is derived partly from diaries, biographies, and newspaper quotations. The brewery building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Rachel's Place, originally known as Rache's Place, is the South Park City's saloon and gambling parlor. It was owned by L.M. Palenbaim, known as Rache to his friends, and was in operation until 1937. Legend has it that a drunken sign painter changed the name, by mistake, to Rachel's Place many years ago. Old Rache was said to have a sense of humor and never had the sign repainted. Other stories tell of Rache returning all of his liquors and replacing them with soda pop and cigars during the days of The Women's Temperance Movement, more popularly known as Prohibition. After standing many years in the town of Alma, Rache's saloon was moved to South Park City in 1958.
The Pioneer Home, standing on its original site, was built by the Summer family in the second half of the nineteenth century. The home was part of a larger group of buildings known as "Summer's Block." An article in the Fairplay Flume dated May 19, 1881, stated: "Leonhard Summer will move into the neat frame building next to his saloon on Front Street. His former residence is for rent," Before moving into their new home, the Summer family previously resided on the second floor of the Summer Brewery.
A datestone placed high in the main facade of the Summer Saloon bears the inscription "LEONHARD SUMMER, 1879." The building was erected to provide an outlet for Leonhard Summer's beer, manufactured in the brewery behind the saloon. The impressive structure is made of red sandstone, like the brewery, from quarries near Red Hill. The saloon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains on its original site. According to the Park County deed records, Leonhard Summer bought the land where the saloon and brewery now stand for a mere $732.50.
The Garo Cabin, located in what was once the brewery yard, was relocated from the ghost town of Garo in the late summer of 1973. It was donated by Mrs. Fay Turner, who dated the cabin to 1895. The building is made of logs that have been cut flat on the ends, to form precise? corner joints. The logs were then stacked one upon the other to construct the walls. The space between the logs was then caulked to form a water-tight seal using a process called chinking and daubing. Today it contains domestic items that were used by the typical pioneer housewife.
This log building was constructed in 1862 in Buckskin Joe, Park County's original county seat. In 1867, a county election declared Fairplay the new county seat, and the courthouse was moved to Fairplay. Over 100 years later, in the summer of 1978, Park County's first courthouse was eventually moved to South Park City and was completely restored inside and out.
The arrastra is the earliest known means of crushing ore and was used by early prospectors in South Park. The word "arrastra" is of Spanish origin and can be described as a crude Spanish-American ore-crushing mill with vat and rollers worked by a horizontal beam. This particular arrastra was moved to its present site from the Moose Mine on Mount Bross in the early 1970s.
This petite log building was once the assay office of the famous North London Mill located near timber line on the Mosquito Pass Road. It became part of South Park City in 1958. The large, rough logs used in the construction of this building look out of place when compared to its overall size. Its sturdy construction is a reminder of the high winds and drifting snow the building endured high on Mosquito Pass. The Assay Office served as the miner's laboratory where ore was tested and graded. After testing, prospectors and mine owners knew if the ore they were extracting was of commercial value. Established in the 1880s, the North London Mine was one of the top gold producers in the South Park area. A mill was later erected on the property.
Originally a blacksmith shop in Leavick, a now defunct mining camp on Fourmile Creek, this log building has been restored as a "dry," a locker room for miners. The dry was a facility associated only with large underground mine operations.
This exhibit was constructed to give visitors a taste of what life was like for hard rock miners in the 1800s. The recreated mine shaft was constructed in 2008 to enhance the preexisting mining exhibits, including the mine car trestle, mine shaft head frame, and placer mining exhibit.
The large timber structure on the hill is a head frame or "gallows frame," as it was more commonly called. Head frames were not used for hanging criminals, but from a distance could be mistaken as intended for that purpose. This head frame was used in the operation of the Phillips Gold Mine, discovered in 1859 and located in Buckskin Gulch, two miles west of Alma. The frame was used to support the cable and pulleys used for lowering and raising ore buckets in the mine shaft. The miners would also use the buckets for entering and leaving the mine. The Phillips was the first large producing mine in the area. It was this claim that started the gold rush to the settlement that later became known as Buckskin Joe.
Constructed in 1972-73, the Mining Mill replaced an earlier building whose roof collapsed due to heavy snows. Here one can see the machinery used in the gold mining operations of the 1800s. A portable boiler built by the Ames Iron Works of Oswego, New York to generate the steam pressure to run an engine, is shown connected to a one-cycle Nagle Engine, built around 1900. The engine produced up to 25 hp at 2200 rpm, sufficient power to operate an entire 10-stamp mill (a stamp mill is a mill in which ore is crushed with a pestle or other heavy instruments). A leather belt connected the flywheel to the line shaft (consisting of pulleys on a metal shaft), which was turned at a constant rpm by the steam engine in order to run the mill's machinery at the correct speeds. Each piece of equipment had to be belted to a proper sized pulley on the shaft.
This 1935 wood frame building stands on its original site and was the one-time office of the Fairplay Coal and Ice Company, a pioneer business in Fairplay. The inside has been refurbished into the Burro Room with exhibits dedicated to the familiar pack animals known as "Rocky Mountain Canaries" for their charming vocal serenades. The burro, a faithful and loyal beast of burden, made mining of gold possible 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. This building was purchased by South Park City in 1963 and designated as a Park County Historic Landmark in 2009.
This shed, which once stored coal and lumber for the Fairplay Coal and Ice Company, still stands on its original site. An addition was added to the original shed where the vehicles used for transportation in early pioneer days are displayed. The sheepherder's wagon, with its unique hut-like appearance, served as a home for the shepherd as he tended his flock. The log-hauler wagon is loaded with wooden pipes that were once used to supply water to the town of Fairplay. These pipes were in use until approximately 1882 when a contract was made to install 8,300 feet of iron pipe. The wood pipes were dug up in 1960 and brought to South Park City for display.
This building is on its original site and was the ice storage area for the Fairplay Coal and Ice Company and later the Longenbaugh Coal and Ice Company. Today it houses a camp wagon and stagecoach, two of the most prized vehicles located in South Park City. Records indicate that the stagecoach, sometimes called a "Mud Wagon," was built in Concord, Massachusetts, by the Abbot Downing Company between 1860 and 1870. The stagecoach sold for $600.00. Included in this price were: painted or enameled curtains lined with leather, a top cover made of sail duck, leather material for covering the rear luggage area, and wooden side doors. Many of the coaches of that time were constructed without doors. It is called a "Concord" in reference to its place of manufacture and was constructed for rough mountain travel. Stagecoaches traveled from Fairplay to Alma, over Mosquito Pass to Leadville, through Buena Vista, on to Salida, and from there made the return trip to Fairplay. This type of stage could carry seventeen passengers and a driver. Nine sat inside and the rest on the outside.
This building was constructed around the turn of the century and served as the schoolhouse for the small community of Buffalo Springs, which once existed south of Fairplay. The bay window and decorative brackets were added to the building after its move to South Park City to make its appearance consistent with traditional railroad depots found throughout the county. Today the building contains memorabilia of the three railroads which serviced South Park: the Denver, South Park & Pacific; the Colorado and Southern; and the Colorado Midland.
The narrow gauge Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad served this area from 1879 until 1890 when it became part of the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison Railway. Later, it was taken over by the Colorado and Southern Railway Company. During this time it was popularly known as the "Denver and South Park." The line closed in 1937 after fifty-eight years of service and the tracks were removed the following year.
This water tank came from Ophir and was used on the Colorado, Rio Grande and Southern Railroad Line during the late 1800s. These water tanks, or water towers as they were sometimes called, were spread out along the rail lines to fill the boilers of the steam engines. A long spout hangs down from the tank to get the water to the engine boiler.
This small log building is representative of a fur trapper's cabin and is believed to have been originally located in the ghost town of Leavick. Fur trapping, especially for beaver, was the main occupation in the South Park prior to the mining booms of the 1860s. The many streams and lakes provided the beaver with a perfect environment and their fur was highly valued both in the United States and in Europe.
This caboose was purchased in 1963 from the Rio Grande Railroad and moved to South Park City. It represents the type of railcar that would have been used on the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad. The caboose was always the last car on a freight train and was actually a self-contained home and office on wheels for railroad personnel.
This log building, built around 1860, was originally located at Second and Main Street in Fairplay and belonged to the Rost family. The outbuilding provided shelter for the family's small dairy herd and today contains an exhibit of tack, farm machinery, and agricultural tools. The barn is one of the few buildings to survive the fire of 1873 and was dismantled and reconstructed in South Park City in 1985.
This cabin was moved from the ghost town of Leavick in 1959 and was originally restored as a Chinese Tong House (a meeting place). The Chinese played a large part in placer mining in the Fairplay area. It is believed that this location was the site of a Chinese Tong House during the gold rush days. Not long after the building was reconstructed and opened to the public, it was vandalized and many artifacts stolen. It was then used for storage for many years until 1981 when it was transformed into a homestead. Today, the exhibit housed in this building depicts the self-sufficiency of the early settlers.
The Star Livery Stable is reputed to be the oldest established livery in the town of Fairplay. It was moved three blocks from the corner of Sixth and Front Street to its present site in the late 1950s. Livery stables served as the service garage of the pioneer town and their employees cared for travelers' horses and carriages. The entrance to the Star Livery was through two large wooden doors which were required to accommodate the largest horse drawn wagons and coaches. The inside walls were lined with stalls for horses while the large, open area was used to store the buggies and wagons.
Four stage companies used the old stage road over Mosquito Pass from 1879 to 1890. One of the main companies was the Spottswood and McClellan Stage Line, which carried as many as 50 passengers a day each way over the rough and treacherous pass. The Stage Barn was located next to the Stage Coach Inn in North Mosquito Gulch just below timberline. The Barn was used as a stable where grain and feed were available for those traveling over the road by horseback. Its main purpose, however, was to have fresh teams of horses available to replace the weary and hungry teams that pulled the stagecoach. Horses that pulled the stage were made to travel at a very fast pace to remain on schedule, requiring frequent changes of horses and driver. The stagecoach was checked and minor repairs made, if necessary, along with checking the team's harnesses. This small, hand-hewn log building stands today as it did in the 1870s, as a companion to the Stage Coach Inn.
The Stage Coach Inn was moved to its present site from Mosquito Pass. There, it served as a halfway house for the stagecoach lines operating between Fairplay and Leadville during the late 1800s. Due to the high elevation and rough road at its original location, moving the Stage Coach Inn proved difficult. Once the building was off its foundation and ready to be trucked down the mountainside, a bulldozer was used to widen the road, push rocks aside, and fill in marshy areas. Twice, the huge inn faced disaster by sliding off the flat bed as the truck snaked its way along precipices with drops of 1000 feet. The expert hauling was done with such skill that most of the original chinking between the logs was kept intact.
The Blacksmith Shop was moved to South Park City from the ghost town of Leavick. Its contents came from the Hoffman Ranch near the old townsite of Dudley. The blacksmith shop was an indispensable part of the mining towns and camps of the early west because the smith not only shod horses, oxen, and burros but did repair work on mining equipment, wagons, and sleighs. On display is a large assortment of the implements used in the blacksmith's trade, such as hammers, tongs, and a forge. The forge and large, hand-operated bellows forced air through a bed of coals to make them red hot. The metal was then heated in the hot coals so it could be worked by the blacksmith. The metal could then be taken to an anvil where it was hammered into shape.
This building was constructed specifically to house eleven dioramas depicting the early mining operation of South Park, consisting of carved wooden figures donated by Mr. Hank Gentsch of Denver, Colorado. Each scene depicts man's labors, beginning with the lone prospector venturing into the unknown in search of riches. Additional dioramas by Hank Gentsch can be found in the South Park Brewery.
This one-room building was built in 1879 as the Garo schoolhouse and was moved to South Park City in 1960. Typical of the schools in the mining camps and towns of the early west, it is a picturesque building with a small entryway and belfry. All grades were taught in this one-room schoolhouse and, like other schools in Park County, one teacher taught every class. Two of the most well-known teachers at the Garo School were Mrs. Alice McLaughlin Wonder, who taught during the years 1898 and 1899, and Mrs. Mayme O'Mailia, who taught during the term of 1912 and 1913. Mrs. O'Mailia taught ten grades and variety of subjects including Chemistry, English, and Latin at a salary of $60 a month.
This morgue, carpenter shop, and coffin maker building was constructed in the 1880s on Fifth Street and was relocated to South Park City in the 1950s. This building represents an original undertaking establishment of the Gold Rush Days, including the carpenter's shop, which was essential to the undertaking business. In a room to the right of the entrance are two cooling tables with ice containers where the deceased was placed to help delay decomposition while the undertaker prepared the body for viewing or burial.
This log structure was once a Fairplay pioneer home and now houses the Sumner Collection. The exhibit consists of early Indian artifacts, mining, trapping, and Victorian curiosities of the early west. The collection was donated and made possible by the efforts of Myrtle and Lawson D. Sumner and Carl Gilley of Lake George, Colorado, in 1976.
This building was constructed in Fairplay in the early 1870s and relocated to South Park City in 1960. It houses a barber shop and dentist office with a waiting room. In the frontier barber shop, there are two wooden barber chairs and individual shaving mugs for the customers. In an adjoining room, two tin bathtubs wait to be filled with hot water.
The dentist's office depicts Victorian Era trends in dental care and contains equipment used by Dr. McKenna to treat patients in the Breckenridge area. The tall wooden cabinet with its counter top and drawers for instruments is quite similar to the ones used in dental offices today. Other instruments are placed in a mahogany box lined with green velvet. Pulling teeth was done with a "turn-key," actually a doctor's tool. This was an extremely painful way to extract teeth and the patient was given no anesthetic. In many of the mining camps, the patient brought his own gold or silver to the doctor for filling his teeth.
Located between the Dentist's Office and the Mayer Home is a covered well, such as could have been used by an individual family or shared by a group of families. Its weather-beaten siding and rustic roof protect the well from the elements. A wooden bucket hangs from a rope on a pulley, which was used to get the water from the well. A trough from the top of the well leads to the outside of the building, which could have been used to fill a tank with water for the family's domestic animals.
The Pike National Forest was established in 1907 and today covers over 1.2 million acres of land in and around South Park. Often headquartered in isolated areas, the early U.S. Forest Service Ranger was a rugged, self-sufficient individual. This Ranger Station, likely built in the1930s, was originally located on Front Street and was moved to South Park City in 1995. The Ranger Station provided living quarters as well as office and storage space.
This building, standing on its original site, was the home of Colonel Frank Mayer, the last of the great buffalo hunters in the West. Colonel Mayer died in Fairplay on February 2, 1954, at the age of 104. The home was privately owned by Lucy Tarbell of Denver for many years after the opening of the South Park City museum, and the general public was not allowed inside. It was eventually purchased from her heirs in 1985 and opened to the public. Colonel Mayer co-authored a book with Charles Roth called "The Buffalo Harvest," in which the life of Mayer is told. The Colonel's home is furnished with period furniture representing his lifestyle.
This three room frame pioneer building was moved from Alma in 1962 to become the doctor's office in South Park City. One of the museum's founders, Leon Snyder, had a special interest in restoring a doctor's office in the museum, as his grandfather, Dr. Henry S. Zumro, had been a surgeon during the Civil War. Snyder inherited his grandfather's antique instruments and medical equipment and advertised for additional medical equipment used by pioneer doctors, which is now on display. Some of the surgical and medical instruments belonged to Dr. J.W.H. Baker who attended Harvard Medical School where the renowned writer, Oliver Wendell Holmes, was one of his teachers. Dr. Baker started a practice in California during the famous Gold Rush of 1849 and returned to Colorado several years later to raise his family. Also displayed are Dr. Henry S. Zumro's cases of medicines and instruments for extracting teeth. These were used by Dr. Zumro during the Civil War period until 1890. The oldest tooth extractor in the exhibit is what was called a "turn-key" and was used by Dr. Zumro in those early days.
The South Park Sentinel building depicts a typical newspaper office of the gold mining era. According to a former Lake George resident, this building was originally a saloon and then a one-room schoolhouse in the town of Lake George. It was the first building to be moved to South Park City and required a haul of 45 miles over Wilkerson Pass. A Washington Hand Press that used hand set type is displayed as well as a Linotype machine representing a major advance in typesetting. A large, foot-operated stapler, type fonts, ink roller, early mimeograph machine, and a G.P. Gordon Press with a patent date of 1861 are some of the other items on display.
This two-story building was moved log by log and reconstructed from the remains of a false-fronted building in Dudley, a ghost town north of Alma. The store is laid out with food items on one side and dry goods on the other, including old cracker barrels accompanying a cheese table set with an authentic round of goat cheese from the 1880s. Many early general stores also served as the town's post office. At the rear of the store are post office boxes from the town of Garo, one of the earliest post offices in the South Park area.
A narrowly enclosed staircase on the side of Simpkin's Store leads to a small, rustic Masonic lodge room. The room was completely replicated by the Grand Lodge of Colorado as it appeared in the late 1800s. On June 6, 1959, the lodge room was dedicated as a memorial to Lawrence N. Greenleaf, a Past Grand Master of Colorado and poet. The lodge room is still used for meetings and is known as "The Lodge Room over Simpkin's Store" as immortalized in Lawrence N. Greenleaf's poem written in 1898. The Master's chair is an exact replica of the one used in the original organization of the Grand Lodge of Colorado in 1861. Enclosed in a glass case is a block of wood from the first Masonic Lodge in Colorado which was established in Aurora in 1859. On the stairwell the names Leon H. Snyder, Richard H. Eshe, and Edward L. Snell are cut into pieces of wood as a memoriam to the men who helped create South Park City.
The Bank of Alma is the original bank building that served the Alma community from 1870 to 1937. It was moved to this site to become the financial institution of South Park City and can still operate as a bank, having one of the oldest charters in the state of Colorado, which is maintained by the Bank of Fairplay. On display are cancelled checks, paperwork, and the various items of a functioning bank. A table once used by the customers stands by the door. A huge safe, painted black with ornate designs, stands at one end of the building.
The South Park City drug store was originally a pioneer feed store in the town of Alma. It was moved to become the J.A. Merriam Drug Store in the late 1950s and has a fascinating story to tell. It starts with a basement store-room in the old silver town of Westcliffe, Colorado. In this basement, the 1880 druggist, J.A. Merriam, would store obsolete drugs, signs, and all kinds of paraphernalia used in the drug business. He did not like to throw anything away because of his extreme appreciation of thrift. It is said he would cut peppermint pellet candies in half to get the exact weight for a nickel's worth. His packrat ways continued until the Merriam family quit the drug business. In the years that followed, the basement remained the same; never cleaned out; filled with these precious articles.
The Company Store was built on its present site during the major restoration of South Park City and welcomed visitors on opening day May 15, 1959. Its construction was made to compliment the rest of the buildings in the town. Old counters and cabinets from the Merriam Drugstore and various post office equipment can be seen. The Company Store's receipts and admissions are used for further restorations and maintenance of the museum complex.