Towns and Settlements

Before Colorado became a state in 1876, it was considered a part of the American Frontier. The untapped wealth of the American Frontier stimulated interest in westward expansion. The discovery of gold along the Front Range mountains of Colorado in 1859 saw the start of the Colorado Gold Rush. 

Attracted by the prospects of making it rich, thousands of migrants from numerous backgrounds moved into the developing counties of Colorado territories. The region within Central Colorado known as South Park saw a population boom that was largely concentrated along the South Platte River. It was here that migrants began to establish a presence that can still be felt today.

Towns such as Fairplay, Alma, Como, and Jefferson evolved from rustic mining camps into the present-day towns and communities that make up Park County. As time progressed, these communities diminished in population, with some communities eventually being labeled “ghost towns.” What follows is a visual exploration of the towns and communities that make up the region known as South Park, Colorado, illustrating the beginnings, hardships, and gradual decline of the settlements that emerged because of the Colorado Gold Rush.


This exhibit was created by the graduate students in the Library and Information Science program at the University of Denver: Sarah Werling, Alex Odicino, Kevin Stevens, Kayla Crosbie, Lizbeth South, Casey Short. LIS 4810 Digital Libraries class, Fall 2019. This exhibit was revised and expanded in 2021 by Alex Kord, Sam Carlson, and Callie Cherry, three graduate students in the Library and Information Science program at the University of Denver and members of the project funded by the Public Good Fund from the University of Denver.