Books About South Park
South Park and its gateway communities are home to a number of authors who have penned books about our local history. If you would like to learn more about certain aspects of South Park’s history, then check out this great collection of books available for purchase online or directly from the author. If you know of other books that should be on this list, please contact us.
A Brief History of Fairplay by Linda Bjorklund
Explore Fairplay from the beginning with local historian Linda Bjorklund as she traces the town’s story through Spanish settlers, early American government, Union-Confederate tensions and modern development. Even though Fairplay’s remarkable gold and silver boom was reduced to ash overnight in 1873, a strong community overcame history’s challenges and preserved its treasures. From the popular annual Burro Days to the Way of Life Museum, Fairplay gives folks a chance to celebrate and relive its rich mining history through festivities and time-capsule buildings such as the general store, drugstore, bank, Summer Brewery and Summer Saloon.
A Town is Born: The Story of South Park City by E. J. “Gene” Amitrani and Laura Van Dusen
“I know of a town where ten thousand miners lived and where you now can’t find a stick or board to evidence the fact that a town was there.”
And thus, began the story of South Park City. Leon Snyder, an attorney from Colorado Springs, was saddened when he noticed the once-bustling ghost towns of South Park, Colorado, disappearing due to forest fires, vandalism, and the ravages of time. In 1957, he organized a community effort to save the structures by re-creating an 1880s gold-mining town on Fairplay’s Front Street.
The story of South Park City’s creation, intertwined with the history of South Park, is enchantingly recounted within the pages of A Town is Born.
—South Park City—experience life as it was in Colorado’s Gold Rush.
All That Lies Beneath by Christie Wright
This book contains approximately sixty obituaries and matching gravestone photos for the Alma/Buckskin Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in Colorado. Although the Buckskin Joe mining camp itself has long since vanished, history has left its stamp on the many gravestones immortalizing the local residents who are buried there. Alma is the highest incorporated town in North America, at 10,578 feet. The book’s introduction includes a brief history of Buckskin Joe, where you will learn the source of its unusual name.
Bayou Salado: The Story of South Park by Virginia McConnell Simmons
First published in 1966, Bayou Salado is an engaging look at the history of a high, cool valley in the Rocky Mountains. Now known as South Park, Bayou Salado once attracted Ute and Arapaho hunters as well as European and American explorers and trappers. Virginia McConnell Simmons’s colorful accounts of some of the valley’s more notable residents – such as Father Dyer, the skiing Methodist minister-mailman, and Silver Heels, the dancer who lost her legendary beauty while tending to the ill during a small pox epidemic – bring the valley’s storied past to life.
Bits and Pieces of History Along the 285 Corridor by Harold Warren
Way back in 1859, gold in paying quantities was found in Colorado. One of these gold bearing areas was located in South Park here in Park County. A road to the diggings became an immediate necessity and so the Denver, Bradford, and Blue River Road Company built a toll road from Denver through this area following old Indian trails. Join Harold Warren on a journey through the history of what is today known as the “285 Corridor”.
Burros! by Linda Bjorklund
Colorado is rich in history. From small mining claims that sparked “boom towns”, railroads cut through hard rock that brought industry and moved goods to the cities, to the brave pioneers who wanted nothing more than a “piece of Colorado” to call home. Much of this history could not have been accomplished except for the hard working and sure-footed Burro. This book, written on behalf of the Park County Archives and the Park County Historical Society by the well-known historian and researcher Linda Bjorklund documents the colorful history of not simply a “beast of burden” but a friend and dedicated companion to those he served so well.
Early Days in South Park: Parked in the Past by Laura Van Dusen
Today, traffic speeds by on the highways that cross the geographic center of Colorado in South Park, and most modern travelers rush by with barely a second glance. But in the last forty years of the nineteenth century, it was a different story. After gold was discovered in 1859, South Park became the destination for thousands of gold seekers, all with a goal to get rich quick.
By the 1870s, modern travel was by stagecoach, when the ninety-mile trip from Denver or Colorado Springs took a bone-jarring eighteen hours, traveling at an average speed of five miles per hour. The journey required an overnight stay in the most basic of accommodations.
Back then, the area boasted several towns that are mere memories today, made famous by the unlikely combination of gold and coal. They included Montgomery, King, and Balfour. Here, historian and journalist Laura Van Dusen reveals the fascinating histories and shares tales of some of South Park’s captivating characters—future Colorado Supreme Court Justice and early gold seeker Wilbur Fisk Stone; marshal, saloon keeper and stabbing victim Lewis Link; and 1920s housewife-turned-fur trapper Willia Hamilton Johnson.
The 1923 Fairplay Cook Book by the Ladies of the Fairplay Aid
Enjoy recipes reprinted by the Park County Local History Archives in this new edition of the 1923 Fairplay Cook Book. Chapters include Soups, Fish and Fowls, Meats, Vegetables, Eggs and Cheese, Salads and Salad Dressings, Croquettes and Fritters, Bread Biscuits Waffles Etc., Sandwiches, Pickles and Preserves, Desserts, Cakes, Cake Fillings and Frostings, Pies, Puddings, Beverages, and Candies especially adapted for high altitudes!
Ghosts of Park County by John K. Aldrich
Details 26 mining towns and camps of this central Colorado County, including Alma, Como, and Fairplay, plus locations in the Mosquito Range and Pike National Forest. Now with GPS co-ordinates for sites covered.
Gold in the Gravel by Linda Bjorklund
A history of gold mining in Colorado; the tools miners used, how they looked for gold, and how they mined it.
Hartsel: History of a Town by Linda Bjorklund
How Sam Hartsel cam west to find gold and instead founded a town and built a ranch.
Historic Tales from Park County: Parked in the Past by Laura Van Dusen
The geographic center of Colorado, Park County has long served as a recreational area for Denver and Colorado Springs residents looking to get away. The scene has not always been so idyllic. Marshal Cook was shot while investigating a loud party in Como in 1894, and rumors spread by the Michigan Creek School Board sent Benjamin Ratcliff on a killing spree in 1895. But the county’s hardscrabble heritage includes triumphs as well as tragedies. In 1873, county seat Fairplay lost every business on Front Street to a horrific fire. But by 1878, they had rebuilt it all. It still stands today, a true testament to the strength of this old mining town. Journalist Laura Van Dusen shares these stories, outlining the many trials and successes of Park County’s earliest settlers.
Mining Among the Clouds by Harvey N. Gardiner
In Mining Among the Clouds, Harvey N. Gardiner examines what one reporter dubbed “aerial” mining – silver mining at such high altitudes that the miners were literally working among the clouds. In the summer of 1871, two prospectors ventured high up Mount Bross in Colorado’s Mosquito Range. There they discovered an outcropping of silver ore in blue limestone. An unprecedented find, it set off strike after strike in Park County. Thus began the silver boom that gave rise to Leadville, laying the foundation for Colorado’s Silver Decade.
Over Boreas Pass by Linda Bjorklund
Stories of the route of the narrow gauge railroad from Como to Breckenridge: the Como roundhouse, the Section House at the top of the pass, Father Dyer’s town, and more.
Park County, Colorado: A Photographic History by Bernie Nagy
Then and Now! Embark on a visual journey through Colorado s High Country and enjoy historic photographs from the mid-1800s through the present of Park County, located in the south-central Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Included are black and white photos of high mountain passes, historic mines, early established communities, the arrival of the railroad, and of remaining structures and communities of present day that create a sense of life as it was and as it continues today. This photographic history will be a reference for generations to come to learn about the early pioneers, ranchers, gold seekers and miners. All who came to settle in a part of the real West to establish a new life and new beginnings. See why so many residents and visitors to Park County relish its uniqueness, history and natural beauty.
Snowstorm Dredge and Placer Chronology by Jane Gilsinger
The Snowstorm Dredge is an important part of Park County’s heritage and now you can follow along with the complete timeline of one of Colorado’s last gold mining dredges. Historian Jane Gilsinger documents each historical period with newspapers articles and other research sources.
South Park Perils by Christie Wright
Christie Wright takes readers on a journey through historic Park County during Colorado’s outlaw era in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The stories of notorious criminals and descriptions of evil deeds make fascinating reading and make the book a perfect companion for exploring the South Park area.
The Life and Times of Andy Anderson by Park County Local History Archives
The transcribed oral history of Andy Anderson illustrated with photographs from the Park County Local History Archives collection.
The Life and Times of Barbara Tripp by Park County Local History Archives
The transcribed oral history of Barbara Tripp illustrated with photographs from the Park County Local History Archives collection.
The Life and Times of Bill & Sadie Hand by Park County Local History Archives
The transcribed oral history of Bill and Sadie Hand illustrated with photographs from the Park County Local History Archives collection.
The Life and Times of James Lamping by Park County Local History Archives
The transcribed oral history of James Lamping illustrated with photographs from the Park County Local History Archives collection.
The Stagecoach: Connecting East and West by Linda Bjorklund
How the stagecoach opened the frontier of the west to travelers; the Concord coach before rails spanned the continent.
The Tarryall Mountains and the Puma Hills: A History by Midge Harbour
Learn the history of the Tarryall Valley, located between the communities of Jefferson and Lake George, in this book by Midge Harbour. The author chronicles the many ranchers and miners that once populated this valley and town of Puma City. A fold-out map is included for you to take your own tour of Tarryall history.
Voices from Park County’s Past by Park County Local History Archives
A lot of the gaps in Park County’s recorded history can be filled in by listening to the knowledgeable people who lived there, so several local historical organizations worked together to record oral histories from current and former residents. Editor Gary Minke has compiled excerpts from these histories to form a broader picture of Park County’s history, which are illustrated with photo from the Park County Local History Archives’ collection.