Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Boreas Pass, Colorado

Boreas Pass Summit
Spring is ushering out winter’s cold and snow. Buds are sprouting on trees. Flowers are peeking up from the ground and people are itching to step outside to enjoy summer’s warmth. For those wanting more than a backyard barbecue, Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are an outdoor enthusiast’s play land. Fishing, hiking, camping, and horseback riding are in abundance, but nestled between crevices, streams, and mountain valleys is a land rich in history, with several historic sites still somewhat intact to explore by foot or car, affording breathtaking views of mountain peaks and Aspens. Boreas Pass linking South Park to Breckenridge is no exception.
Formerly known as Breckinridge Pass, Boreas Pass came into existence during the Colorado Gold Rush. The pass was originally a foot route prospectors used to get from South Park to Blue River Valley near Breckenridge where they panned for gold. In 1866, the foot path was widened to a wagon road for stagecoaches. In 1882, Sidney Dillon of Union Pacific Railroad joined forces with the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad and began laying narrow gauge tracks up the pass. During this time, Dillon renamed the route to Boreas Pass after the Ancient Greek God, North of the Wind.
Boreas Town
The railroad tracks connected to Breckenridge and later on to Leadville. This line was deemed a ‘major engineering feat’ because of the deep winter snow at high altitude. Completion of the line not only included the tracks, but dozen of snow sheds along the route and the birth of the town Boreas. Built at the top of the summit, the town’s primary objective was to house workers to clear snow from the tracks during the winter.
Stone Engine House
In its prime, Boreas was home to a 57 x 155ft stone Engine House, equipped with an engine turn table, water tank and coal bin. The town also housed a 600ft snow shed that was later extended to over 900 feet, with doors on the Breckenridge side to block out drifting snow. A depot was built in 1898 to provide comfort for train passengers, but the harsh winter winds and deep mounds of snow often buried the tracks. Clearing them proved costly and time consuming. During the winter of 1898-99, no trains ran from February thru April. By 1905 Boreas was pretty much deserted. Only the Post Office remained. The station itself burned down in 1934. After the fire, train service was discontinued and the line completely abandoned in 1937.

Boreas Pass Today
Today, there isn’t much left at the summit; a few out buildings, a train car and a sign. But the drive up and over the pass into Breckenridge is a great way to spend a Saturday morning. 

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