South Park (Park County, Colorado)

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South Park (Park County, Colorado)
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View of South Park along U.S. Highway 285 looking eastward toward the Front Range
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Floor elevation10,000 feet (3,000 m)
Area1,000 square miles (2,600 km2)
Geography
Coordinates 38°58′04″N106°02′43″W / 38.9679°N 106.04517°W / 38.9679; -106.04517 Coordinates: 38°58′04″N106°02′43″W / 38.9679°N 106.04517°W / 38.9679; -106.04517

South Park is a grassland flat within the basin formed by the Rocky Mountains' Mosquito and Park Mountain Ranges [1] within central Colorado. This high valley ranges in elevation from approximately 9,000 to 10,000 ft (3,000 m). It encompasses approximately 1,000 square miles (2,590 km² or 640,000 acres) around the headwaters of the South Platte River in Park County approximately 60 mi (100 km) southwest of Denver. It is the largest and southernmost of three similarly named high altitude basins in the Front Range of Colorado, the others being North Park and Middle Park. The largest town in the basin is Fairplay, with a population of 681.

Contents

Geology

Geologically, the valley is a wide faulted syncline of sedimentary rocks, sitting between the predominantly Precambrian igneous rocks of the Front Range to the east and the Sawatch Uplift to the west. The Mosquito Range forms a high barrier along the western side of the valley. The long-extinct Thirty-Nine Mile volcanic field is located just to the southeast.

The valley is mostly underlain by Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks concealed by a thin[ quantify ] layer of gravel laid down by glaciation during Pleistocene time. The underlying rocks are dipping slightly to the east. The eastern (and newer) side of the valley is underlain primarily by Pierre Shale laid down during Cretaceous time. The western (and older) side of the valley, on the west side of Red Hill, is underlain primarily by Permian and Pennsylvanian rocks. Red Hill runs through the center of the valley as a hogback ridge of tilted Cretaceous and Jurassic sedimentary rocks.

Gold

Gold mining in South Park began in 1859. Extensive placer deposits were mined along the west side of the park, and lode deposits were mined in the Mosquito Range. The extensive gravel ridges east of Fairplay are the result of dredging for gold. (see Gold mining in Colorado ).

Petroleum

Although South Park contains some of the same geologic formations that yield oil and gas in the Denver Basin further east, efforts to find commercial oil and gas in South Park have so far proven unsuccessful.

Uranium

A minor amount of uranium has been mined from sandstone in South Park (see Uranium mining in Colorado ).

Transportation

U.S. Highway 285 in South Park Highway 285 in South Park, July 2016.jpg
U.S. Highway 285 in South Park

The valley is traversed by several highways, including U.S. Highway 285, which enters the valley from the eastern side over the Front Range at Kenosha Pass, providing a vehicle link to Denver. The highway crosses Red Hill at Red Hill Pass. On its northern side, the valley is connected by several high mountain passes to the valley of the North Fork of the South Platte River (a tributary of the South Platte). It is also connected by CO Route 9 via Hoosier Pass to the valley to the Blue River near Breckenridge. To the west, the extremely high Mosquito Pass crosses the Mosquito Range to Leadville. (Mosquito Pass is no longer a practical transportation route, but is now a historical and recreation site.) On its southwestern side, at the southern end of the Mosquito Range, it is connected by Trout Creek Pass to the upper valley of the Arkansas River near Buena Vista. U.S. Highway 24 enters South Park from the east at Wilkerson Pass, where the highway provides vehicle access to Colorado Springs. To the very south, CO Route 9 crosses Currant Creek Pass, which marks the southern edge of the South Park region.

History

Like much of the mountainous areas of Colorado, the valley was inhabited by Utes before the arrival of white settlers in the middle 19th century. However, from the 1850s onward, the area was increasingly encroached on by Southern Arapaho bands, who came to cherish it as an important buffalo range after witnessing the continued degradation of their typical hunting grounds on the plains and who repeatedly became entangled in skirmishes with the Utes over the territory. It was explored by John C. Fremont during his second expedition in 1844, at which time it was referred to as "Bayou Salade," a corruption of Spanish "Valle Salado," meaning salty valley. [2] In 1859 the discovery of placer gold in the streams of the valley during the Colorado Gold Rush led to an influx of prospectors and miners. The town of Fairplay was founded as a more law-abiding place to live than the older, nearby town of Tarryall during this time and continued to be a center of gold, and later silver mining up through the middle 20th century. South Park City, an open-air museum outside Fairplay, provides a historical recreation of the gold rush days. The basin was connected to Denver by railroad with the extension of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad over Kenosha Pass in 1879.

See also

Since the late 1990s, South Park has been best known as the eponymous setting of the animated series South Park . Trey Parker, one of the creators of the South Park series, grew up in Conifer, about 40 miles (65 km) east of Fairplay. [3] [4]

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Fairplay, Colorado Statutory Town in Colorado, United States

Fairplay is the statutory town that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Park County, Colorado, United States. Fairplay is located in South Park at an elevation of 9,953 feet (3,034 m). The town is the fifth-highest incorporated place in the State of Colorado. The population was 679 at the U.S. Census 2010.

U.S. Route 285

U.S. Route 285 is a north–south United States highway, running 846 miles (1,362 km) through the states of Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. The highway's southern terminus is in Sanderson, Texas at an intersection with U.S. Route 90. US 285 has always had an endpoint in Denver, Colorado, although the original US 285 went north from Denver. Today the highway's northern terminus is in Denver, at exit 201 on Interstate 25.

Middle Park (Colorado basin)

Middle Park is a high basin in the Rocky Mountains of north-central Colorado in the United States. It is located in Grand County, on the southwest slope of Rocky Mountain National Park, approximately 50 miles (80 km) west of Boulder.

Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad

The Denver, South Park, and Pacific Railroad was a historic 3 ft narrow gauge railroad that operated in Colorado in the western United States in the late 19th century. The railroad opened up the first rail routes to a large section of the central Colorado mining district in the decades of the mineral boom. The railroad took its name from the fact that its main line from Denver ascended the Platte Canyon and traversed South Park. Founded in 1872 by Colorado Governor John Evans, the company was purchased by the Union Pacific Railway in 1880, though it continued to be operated independently. The line went bankrupt in 1889 and was reorganized under the new moniker the Denver, Leadville and Gunnison Railway. When the Union Pacific went bankrupt in 1893, the DL&G lines went into receivership and were eventually sold to the Colorado and Southern Railway. In the first half of the 20th century, nearly all the company's original lines were dismantled or converted into 4 ft 8+12 instandard gauge. The last train to run the old DSP&P tracks was from Como, Colorado on April 11, 1937. A section of the standard gauge line between Leadville and Climax is still operated as a passenger excursion railroad called the Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad. At its peak the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad had 335 miles (539 km) of narrow gauge line, making it the largest narrow gauge railroad in the state of Colorado.

Clear Creek (Colorado)

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North Park (Colorado basin)

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Kenosha Pass

Kenosha Pass, elevation 10,000 ft (3,000 m), is a high mountain pass located in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado in the United States.

Red Hill Pass (Colorado)

Red Hill Pass is a high mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado in the United States.

Hoosier Pass

Hoosier Pass is a high mountain pass in central Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains of the western United States. The name derives from Indiana, nicknamed the "Hoosier State," which was the original home of many pioneers.

Mosquito Range

The Mosquito Range is a high mountain range in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado in the United States. The peaks of the range form a ridge running north–south for roughly 40 mi (64 km) from southern Summit County on the north end, then along the boundary between Lake and Park Counties. The ranges forms a high barrier separating the headwaters of the Arkansas River near Leadville from South Park and the headwaters of the South Platte River near Fairplay. The highest peak in the range is Mount Lincoln at an elevation of 14,286 ft. Other fourteeners in the range are Quandary Peak (14,272 ft), Mount Bross (14,172 ft), Mount Democrat (14,148 ft), and Mount Sherman (14,036 ft).

Trout Creek Pass

Trout Creek Pass, elevation 9,487 ft (2,892 m), is a mountain pass located in the Rocky Mountains of south-central Colorado in the United States. The pass sits atop the southern end of the Mosquito Range on the Park-Chaffee county line, between South Park and the headwaters of the Arkansas River to the west. It is traversed jointly by U.S. Highway 24 (US 24) and US 285. It is passable by most motorized vehicles and is closed only during severe winter storms. The approach from the north is mild, while the south side has a moderate 5% grade.

Middle Fork South Platte River

The Middle Fork South Platte River is a tributary of the South Platte River, approximately 50 miles (80 km) long, located in central Colorado in the United States. The river provides part of the drainage of South Park, the intermontane grassland basin located between the Front Range and the Mosquito Range in the Rocky Mountains southwest of Denver.

South Fork South Platte River

The South Fork South Platte River is a tributary of the South Platte River, approximately 45 miles (72 km) long, in central Colorado in the United States. It is located near the headwaters of the South Platte in Park County, Colorado and drains part of the intermontane grassland basin of South Park. It forms the South Platte by its confluence with the Middle Fork South Platte River in southern South Park.

Tarryall Creek

Tarryall Creek is a tributary of the South Platte River, approximately 68.5 miles (110.2 km) long, in Park County in central Colorado in the United States. It drains a rural portion of north and central South Park, an intermontane grassland in the Rocky Mountains southwest of Denver. It rises in the high Rockies in several forks along the Continental Divide in the Pike National Forest southwest of Boreas Pass. It descends to the southwest through a short canyon, emerging into South Park near Como, Colorado. It crosses U.S. Highway 285 east of Red Hill Pass northeast of Fairplay, the county seat of Park County, then meanders towards the southeast, joining the South Platte from the east in the southeastern corner of South Park.

Geography of Colorado Overview of the geography of Colorado

The geography of the U.S. State of Colorado is diverse, encompassing both rugged mountainous terrain, vast plains, desert lands, desert canyons, and mesas. In 1861, the United States Congress defined the boundaries of the new Territory of Colorado exclusively by lines of latitude and longitude, stretching from 37°N to 41°N latitude, and from 102°02'48"W to 109°02'48"W longitude. Starting in 1868, official surveys demarcated the boundaries, deviating from the parallels and meridians in several places. Later surveys attempted to correct some of these mistakes but in 1925 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the earlier demarcation was the official boundary. The borders of Colorado are now officially defined by 697 boundary markers connected by straight boundary lines. Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are the only states that have their borders defined solely by straight boundary lines with no natural features. The southwest corner of Colorado is the Four Corners Monument at 36°59'56"N, 109°2'43"W. This is the only place in the United States where four states meet: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

Tarryall is a ghost town in northwest Park County, Colorado, United States. It is on upper Tarryall Creek northwest of Como, Colorado. It was once the county seat of Park County, but is now completely deserted.

U.S. Route 285 in Colorado Section of U.S. Highway in Colorado

U.S. Route 285 is the section north-south highway in Colorado that starts at the New Mexico state line and ends at I-25, US 87, and SH 30 in Denver.

References

  1. "CO-T3/920426/T-3/"Center of CO Focus of Hist'al Trip" (cited by the [ GNIS listing for Fairplay]
  2. http://cozine.com/2006-september/the-source-of-bayou-salado/
  3. http://www.filmreference.com/film/49/Trey-Parker.html
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-10-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)