Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Alma, Such a Pretty Name for a Colorado Town

 Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Mt. Bross, 14,178 feet
Located need Alma, CO. image from Wikipedia

Yes, Alma is a pretty name but for a town? I have driven through this small town located on Highway 9, just prior to Hoosier Pass, between Fairplay and Breckenridge Colorado. At an elevation of 10,361 feet, it makes it one of the higher towns in Colorado. To give you a perspective, Leadville is 12.5 miles from Alma as the crow flies. But since this is the mountains the driving distance is 55 miles. Leadville is 10,152' and is surrounded by Mt. Elbert, at 14,433 feet, and Mt. Massive 14,421 feet. This makes Alma, whose post office is located at the highest elevation of any in the country, the highest incorporated municipality. The fact that Alma is considered a town and not a city allows Leadville to be the highest incorporated city in the United States.

The story is that the town was named Alma for the wife of a merchant there but as with all of these old mining towns another story states that the town was named for the daughter of one of the early residents.

Alma, in the 1870s
from Wikipedia

The area around Alma, with its 17,452 mining sites, grew in population from its founding in 1872 and had its official post office established on March 7, 1873, the same year the town was incorporated. During its heyday, it was said there were around 10,000 inhabitants. Now, as of the 2000 census, there are just under 200 people.

Alma was considered the supply and service center for the mines in the area, being located at the juncture of buckskin Creek and the South Platte River. According to the South Park Heritage website, there were several early newspapers, three churches, Methodist, Catholic, and Presbyterian along with seven stagecoaches that operated from Alma to Leadville prior to Leadville's luck in having the railroads arrived in that town. Two years later Alma got its own railroad the Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad.

A 1907 fire destroyed a number of businesses in the town but the residents rebuilt, and what is interesting is in the 1930s during the great depression Alma became a backup for many people out of work. It seems there was still gold in those hills and these people came to find it.

Today those who drive Highway 9, one of the most picturesque easy mountain drives, will look at the few buildings left in this small town and not realize the rich history that is no longer visible. But, with a bit of imagination, you can see the bustling mines, minors, smelters, and businessmen as they went about the business of living their lives in that lost time.

And in case anyone actually reads this post and/or comments

Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy.


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