Character and Adaptability
Life in Hartsel has always called for character and adaptability.
Sam Hartsel came to South Park in 1860 to mine but realized that he could make a better living raising food for miners.
Starting with a 160-acre homestead in 1862, his operations here soon encompassed a 10,000-acre ranch, sawmill, trading post, blacksmith shop, hotel, commercial hot springs and bathhouse.
A newer (1915) bathhouse is still visible across the river.
Colorado Midland Wildflower Train:
Hartsel's enterprises boomed when the Colorado Midland Railway reached South Park from Colorado Springs.
This standard-gauge railway, called "the stockmen's railroad," could carry heavier loads than the narrow-gauge Denver, South Park & Pacific that ran from Denver through Como.
The Midland shipped cattle and hay produced on local ranches, and brought tourists to fish, soak in the hot springs and gather wildflowers.
South Park's history isn't the stuffy, indoors, overly labeled type.
It's the kind that visitors may discover on their own.
In a large meadow southeast of Hartsel, twelve vacant buildings on the Buckley Ranch look much like they did in the 1930's. First settled in 1874, the Buckley is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
of Spinney Mountain State Wildlife Area, the property is managed for Gold Medal trout fishing.
In 1862, Charles L. Hall established one of Colorado's first industrial enterprises, The Colorado Salt Works, on his ranch west of Hartsel.
By 1868 this unique facility reportedly produced 4,000 pounds of salt daily, much of it used in processing gold ore. Under the tenure of Hall's son-in-law Thomas "Tom" McQuaid, Salt Works Ranch eventually became one of the largest cattle operations in Colorado (80,000 acres).
Salt Works Ranch is now in the National Register of Historic Places and is still owned by Charles Hall's descendants.