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Gebhard Mansion in about 1900. Click to enlarge.

Gebhard Mansion
McBird House
The LeNeve Foster Residence
The Como Roundhouse
The Depot
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The Depot 

The South Park! To the average Coloradan this term signifies one--perhaps the most beautiful--of a number of great, high, mountain valleys, surrounded by ranges of even higher peaks, which are scattered throughout the central Rocky Mountains. But to the historian or railfan it calls to mind the most picturesque of the pioneer narrow gauge railroads in Colorado, a state once saturated with picturesque narrow gauge railroads. It was a railroad known, as the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad. To most historians it was simply the South Park.

To those interested in the broader picture of history, the South Park Railroad was a mere footnote to Colorado railroad history. It was just a streak of rust, from one end to the other, during much of its existence. It was poorly surveyed, poorly located, poorly engineered, poorly financed and in financial trouble during most of its history. Perhaps because of its obsolescence during much of its history, the spectacular scenery visible from virtually every inch of the line's trackage and its underdog status, it has won an enduring and perhaps excessively prominent place in the history of railroading1.

The Como rail complex, located in the alpine valley known as South Park, is what is left of the legendary carrier. This place has become the holy of holies to narrow gauge railfans. To the railfan, these buildings are as revered as an ancient European cathedral. In addition to a few of the original town structures, there remains today three railroad structures: the hotel, built in 1896 after the original Pacific Hotel burned down; the wooden depot, which is ready to fall down; and the 1881 stone roundhouse, which has been preserved.

The South Park was founded in 1872. It reached the place now known as Como, located about 90 miles from its origin in Denver and at 9796 feet elevation, in 1879. The Pacific Hotel opened in 1881 and the stone roundhouse was completed in the same year.


Pacific Hotel and Depot, Como, Colorado 1886

When exactly the depot was built is unknown. It was certainly added to and modified over the years. It was there in 1886 as shown in the above photograph of the Pacific Hotel. The hotel burned on 9 November 1896 and was rapidly replaced by the currently existing building. Surprisingly the neighboring wooden depot was saved. The last scheduled passenger train left Como, Colorado on 10 April 1937 as shown below.


Last scheduled passenger train from Como, Colorado at depot 10 April 1937 

The last train to leave Como was a work train 2 September 1938 as the track was pulled up behind it. Como lapsed into obscurity, becoming almost a ghost town.

1Paraphrased from: Chappell, G, Richardson, RW, Hauck, CW, The South Park Line: a Concise History, Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden, Colorado 1974

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2003-2004 Dr. Charles Brantigan,  Vascular Surgery Practice
2253 Downing Street, Denver, CO 80205
303.830.8822 fax: 303.830.7068 or 800.992.4676  inquiries@drbrantigan.com

Last Updated: 07/15/2004