Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I had forgotten all about this site and received a few posts to moderate. Not sure what the future holds but my Facebook pages for both the Como Depot and The South Park Hotel are much more active.

Depot CDOT Application

Here is the last version, it will be actually tweaked a bit, but it gives a very good idea.
Como Depot CDOT 2010

Letters need to be addressed to:
Darin L. Stavish, Regional Planner
Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)
Region 1 – Planning & Environmental
18500 E. Colfax Avenue

Aurora, CO 80011-8017

Please send them to me, but addressed to CDOT:
David Tomkins
Como Depot
PO Box 109
Como
CO 80432

2010 and where we are

This site got a bit lost but I have now recovered it, and disconnected the link to the web site that seemed to be the issue.

Hotel

We obtained a grant a year ago to do some major renovations. I has taken a lot longer than I was expecting to get the work going, but we sem all set to start when the weather breaks.

I have set up a separate blog just on the Hotel reneovation, http://www.comohotel.blogspot.com/

Depot

We obtained another mini grant from the State Historical Fund in December, to finish off the strutural repairs and most signiicantly install a new roof.

We will be attending and speaking at he Colorado Preservation Inc Conference in Denver – http://www.coloradopreservation.org/spc/index.html, we have the last slot on Friday!

Overdue Update

Restaurant

We we are now open 7 days a week. Lunch 11 to 5 and Dinner 5 to 8.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday we also offer Breakfast, 8 to 11. On Sunday we runn Breakfast another hour till 12.00 and start Lunch at 12.00.

Sunday Dinner we also offer a Prime Rib special. There are specials for every other day, these vary but Friday Fish and Chips has become a regular.

Depot

Work is due to start on Phase 2, rebuilding the foundations, regrading and drainage on the 1st August.

Railroad Day

As usual this will be the 3rd Saturday in August, the 15th this year.

Opening 2009

We have a lot to update, so much has happened.

We had hoped to open for Mothers Day, but it will not be. We will be open for Memorial Day weekend, probably the Thursday before.

We have a new chef, modified menus, revamped entry/bar and of course will be starting the major renovations this year. By next winter, for the first time ever the building will be properly heated.

Much more to be posted, but as a teaser we have a new photo, well actually a very old photo which will be on display in the Bar area. This is our ‘Truth Photo’. So if you want to see what we are aiming for, please come in and see it.

Closed Thursday

We will be closed this Thursday, we have a conference to go to that hopefully will produce assistance for the future renovations of the Hotel And Depot.

Depot and Hotel History

Como owes its existence to the Railroad, in this case the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad.

 

The first train arrived in Como from Denver in June 1879; the town site had been bought by the Railroad from George Lechner. He had mined Coal from a mine just to the north and sold it in Fairplay and the surrounding area. Within a month the Fairplay Flume reported Como had a population of 6,000 and also the presence of a Railroad Depot. Railroad construction continued through South Park to the Arkansas Valley, Chalk Creek, through the Continental Divide and onwards to Gunnison.

 

All the historical photographs show the Depot as it appears today, however it seems likely that the original structure was a rectangle, the northern section to form the L shape being added very soon after its construction.

  

In 1880 the Gillman Hotel was constructed, a small hotel that occupied the northern part of the current buildings footprint.

 

Como was to become an important division point on the DSP&P RR. A short branch line was constructed to the Lechner Coal Mines in 1880, this formed the basis of the Breckenridge Branch over Boreas Pass. Also in 1880 a branch line was built to the east to the King Coal Mines, a much more substantial mining operation. In April 1881 the Fairplay Flume noted the laying of foundations for a Roundhouse and Locomotive Shop at Como, this building is still in existence. Como soon housed the most important facilities for the DSP&P RR outside of Denver.

  

Increased business resulted in the need for a much larger Hotel. The Gillman Hotel was significantly extended towards the Depot, resulting in a more grandiose 43 bedroom hotel. By this time the DSP&P RR had become part of the Union Pacific and later was renamed the Denver Leadville and Gunnison Railroad. The Hotel was taken over by the Union Pacific’s Hotel Division and renamed the Pacific Hotel.

  

The disastrous fire of November 9th 1896 saw the Pacific Hotel burn to the ground. A small gap existed between the Hotel and Depot, and this was enough to spare it. In early 1879 the Fairplay Flume reported that construction had started on a new eating house, that it would be a handsome edifice, not as big as its predecessor, constructed of pressed bricks. Another article mentions local townspeople being paid for salvaging bricks from the ruins of the Pacific Hotel. Inspection suggests that approximately 2/3rd’s of the foundations were repaired and re-used and that the reclaimed bricks were used where they would not show. The original Gilman Hotel had a basement; the windows were bricked up, but are still evident in the current buildings foundations.

 

Railroad activity had significantly reduced by this time, the Railroad was heavily dependent on the boom bust cycle of the mining industry, and suffered serious mismanagement by the Union Pacific. By the time of the fire, the railroad was in the hands of an administrator, and if it was not for his competency in turning the finances around, it may well have been that the Hotel would never have been re-built. We do know the Hotel operated at this time 24 hours a day

  

Shortly after completion the line came out of receivership and was incorporated in the Colorado and Southern Railroad.

 

By 1908 the Railroad was leasing the Hotel to an independent operator for $300 a year. The closing of the Alpine Tunnel in 1910 resulted in many lost jobs in Como and much reduced traffic. For a few years Como became the end of line, service over Boreas Pass was suspended and the Hotel boarded up.

 

The occupants of the Hotel we know most about are the Gibbony’s, Pat and Delhia. Pat Gibbony worked for the Railroad for 47 years, he lived in Como and held a variety of positions He ran the wheel shop, he was the wrecking boss and from c 1915 ran the Hotel until his death on February 27th 1930. They had 9 children; we know their youngest was born in the Hotel. Another daughter, Mrs. A A Anderson has left an account of her life in Como and the Hotel. We also know that by this time the Railroad provided the Hotel rent free. This was not unusual, the agreement was that the tenant had to provide services to Railroad employee’s who would otherwise have nowhere to eat.

 

 

After Pat’s death the family moved elsewhere in town, photographs show the Hotel as being open until the line closed in April 1937. By that time the daily trains from Denver Leadville and Alma all met at Como, the timetable allowed passengers the opportunity to eat lunch at the Hotel. The track was pulled up the following summer.

 

We also have first hand accounts of the operation of the Depot in the 1930’s, from north to south the first room was the office containing the telegraph, ticket office, station press and copying machine. The Station Agent was based here; both the Engineer and Conductor received their train orders at the counter. The next room was the waiting room; the third room down was for the Post Service and then the Freight room was at the end.

 

After the Railroad had closed, the Hotel was vacant, Como died. The next occupants were the Cooly Dredging Company who leased the Roundhouse, Depot and Hotel. The Roundhouse was their machine shop, the Hotel housed offices and staff accommodation for their dredging operations on the Tarryall.  The C&S sold the property including the Roundhouse to the Smith’s in the late 1950’s. The Depot was used as a garage, the Hotel as a lodge. We have heard stories of the Hotel office being used as a Tack room, the Dining room filled with Indian Rugs and artifacts and dances being held.

 

 By the 1970’s, the Depot and Hotel were boarded up again. In 1977 they were purchased by the Hodges, who re-opened the Hotel to customers in 1978 under the name Como Depot.

 

The Hotel seems to have been known by a variety of names over the years, the Eating House, Como Hotel but by the Railroad as the South Park Hotel. In 1983 all three Railroad buildings were placed on the National Historic Register.

 

The Depot and Hotel was purchased by Moya Cleaver and David Tomkins on February 27th 2008, 71 years after train service finished, 78 years to the day after Pat Gibbony died, 111 years after the Hotel was rebuilt.

 

The Future

 

We wish to restore the buildings as far as possible to their historical appearance, continue the Hotel in its original use and use the Depot as a Museum/Visitor Centre covering not just the Railroad History, but the Town and surrounding area. The Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad Society have recently acquired the A A Anderson Collection, much of which relates to Como, and we all see the restored Depot as an obvious location for its display.

 

Principal Sources

 

Bayou Salado – the Story of South Park by Virginia McConnel

Denver South Park and Pacific by Mac C. Poor.  The principal work on this Railroad
Echoes of Como, Colorado, 1879-1973 by Mary Dyer, a local history of a town along the line.
Goin Railroading. Two Generations of Colorado Stories, by Margaret Coel as told by Sam Speas. These stories are collection of two generations worth of high country railroad adventures from the early days on the narrow gauge lines in South Park. Sam was a Railroad Engineer and lived in Como for a significant part of his career.
The Mineral Belt, Volume 2 by George Sebastian-Coleman
Pictorial Supplement to Denver South Park and Pacific – the supplement to Mac Poor’s work.
The South Park Line: Colorado Rail Annual #12 by Gordon Chappell, Robert W. Richardson and Cornelius Hauck. 
Tracking Ghost Railroads in Colorado
Western Yesterdays, Vol. XI, South Park Railroaders by Forest Crossen. Many first hand accounts of life in Como in the early Railroad days.
Archives of the Fairplay Flume
Park County Archives in Fairplay