More than 50 members of the Denver, South Park & Pacific Historical Society met in Leadville, Colo., July 12-14, 2013, for their 15th annual convention. Many old friends got reacquainted and several new members participated for the first time.
Our first day's excursion was a joint venture with the Colorado Midland Society. An auto tour of old mining camps in the Leadville area led us to places like Ibex and the site of Oro City. Fortunately, the notorious Colorado summer afternoon showers held off until everyone got back to town.
As in past years, the Leadville Elks Club served as evening headquarters. Friday night, Society president Bob Schoppe presented his usual excellent PowerPoint program with a review of activities during the past year. The highlight was discussion of the work proceeding on restoration of the Como depot. Bob commended the group for its fund-raising effort, which culminated in the Society's donation of $25,000 to the project. This donation of matching funds generated grants totaling $288,000, enabling work to move forward. Our check was presented in June and the job, under the direction of Mike Perschbacher's Older Than Dirt Construction, began immediately.
A real treat was in store Saturday morning. For the first time, we were able to go inside the old DSP&P freight depot, currently used for storage by a Leadville lumberyard. It was fascinating to see how well this building, now more than 100 years old, was put together. While no railroad artifacts were discovered, everyone enjoyed the opportunity to take this tour.
After lunch, the group convened at the Leadville, Colorado & Southern depot for a tour of the DSP&P roundhouse and other outbuildings. Owners Ken and Stephanie Olson were gracious and knowledgeable hosts. We then boarded the LC&S afternoon train for a ride on the old right-of-way. While the branch is now standard gauge and no longer goes all the way to Climax, it's still good fun.
Saturday evening found us back at the Elks Club for dinner and a presentation by member Dr. Robert Stears. Bob is delving deeply into history of the railroad's rolling stock, with particular attention to number and lettering styles through the years. He also described a fascinating new 3-D computer process that has recently become available. The evening ended with much great socializing among the members.
A sunny Sunday morning was perfect for a walk down historic Harrison Avenue. Harrison is Leadville's main commercial street, just as it was when the mines and railroads were operating. It's fascinating to see how many of the old buildings have survived and still look wonderful.
Next year's convention is scheduled for Gunnison, Colo., Aug. 8-9-10. Plans are already in the works for what will certainly be a good weekend of fun, history and good times.