More than 90 members of the Denver, South Park & Pacific Historical Society gathered in Fairplay and Como, Colo. for their 17th annual convention, Aug. 21-22-23, 2015. It was, by far, the largest group to attend the event.
The highlight of the convention was, of course, dedication of the restored Como depot, held in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service Boreas Pass/Como Railroad Day. The official “grand opening” took place at noon, Aug. 22. Welcoming remarks were made by Jennifer Orrego-Charles, Colorado Preservation Inc. and Ann McCleave, History Colorado. DSPPHS president Bob Schoppe followed with a description of the depot's history and, especially, the time, effort and money that went into saving it. “We started seven years ago,” Bob said. “We didn't even dream then, when we started, that it would look this good.” Debra Queen-Stremke and Patrice Anderson (Albin “Andy” Anderson's daughter) did the ribbon-cutting honors.
Other events of the day included driving Boreas Pass to Breckenridge and back and touring the Como roundhouse, which was also open for the day. Members Tom and Denise Klinger gave tours of the boarding house at the top of Boreas Pass and, as in past years, Denise flipped flapjacks for one and all. In addition to DSPPHS members, many people from Colorado's Front Range attended the event. All seemed highly impressed with the work that is being done.
Society members Pat and Dan Windolph, Sheri Adams, Dave Primus and others “manned” a table selling Como depot shirts and caps, as well as 2016 calendars and a variety of books. Business was brisk and the DSPPHS netted about $2,500 in sales and donations for the weekend.
Other convention events included a tour of the King coal mine area, Kenosha Pass and the Jefferson depot on Friday. The King mine, about three miles from Como, was established about 1879 and went “great guns” until 1893, when an explosion killed 24 people and put an end to big-time mining at that site. At Kenosha Pass, many people enjoyed walking the grade on track laid by the forest service some years ago. The Jefferson depot, which now houses a coffee shop, was open and a number of members checked it out.
Friday evening, Dick Richardson made an interesting presentation showing how he was able to overlay the C&S line in the Breckenridge area with the software program, Google Earth.
Saturday, after the depot festivities, many toured the Leckner coal mine, located near the Como cemetery. This mining area became known as “Upper Como” while the King mine, to the east, was known as “Lower Como.”
Saturday evening, Ken Martin provided a history of C&S passenger cars, complete with photos. Evening meetings also included excellent dinners, catered by Constance (Mrs. Bob) Schoppe, as well as business and “state of the society” reports.
Sunday, a number of members toured the Leavick branch of the DSP&P and also visited Garo and the Rocky Mountain Land Library at Thousand Peaks Ranch, near Hartsel. Then, it was time to head home and await next year's convention.
Our first excursion was on the King branch. The remains of King and the coal mines strech out from here.
Members look out over the site as Bob Schoppe describes the area.
From King, we continued up to the top of Kenosha Pass, where several members hiked the re-built track along the east leg of the wye.
After Kenosha, we headed down to Jefferson for some refreshments. This is the waiting room in the Jefferson depot. Snacks were available in the baggage room, and ice cream was available next door.
Here are some of us socializing outside the depot.
We spent Saturday partaking in Railroad Day on Boreas Pass. This included tours in Como, and the dedication of the newly restored Como Depot. Here, some people in period clothing were posing in front of the depot in preparation of the dedication cerimony.
The DSP&P Historical Society was in the ticket agent's office in the Como depot to provide information to visitors, and sell fund-raising items. This view is looking through the area where a conductor would receive his train orders.
Our annual group photo, this time in front of the Como depot.
We visited the cemetery in Como, which contains headstones with names of former Como residents, including many old-time railroaders.
From the cemetery, we hiked down to the site of Lechner coal mines. Here, Como depot owner David Tomkins and his dog lead us along the abandoned grade of the Lechner spur.
On Sunday, we started off with a trip along the Denver, South Park and Hilltop grade (also known as the C&S Leavick branch). Here, we hiked the remains of the wye at Mudsill, which still has numerous ties remaining.
The mill at Leavick has deteriorated significantly since our last visit at the 2005 convention.
Our last top was at Garo, where we visited the Buffalo Peaks Ranch, which was established by Adolph Guiraud in 1863. The town name of Garo (or Garos) was an anglicized simplification of Guiraud. The DSP&P grade ran through this ranch. The ranch property is being transformed into the Rocky Mountain Land Library.