Colorado Public Works Journal, Fall 2019

by Tamara Moon Tiny Town, Big Vision – The Fairplay River Park Colorado’s historic mining towns are starting to enjoy the increased influx of tourists that are flocking to our state. The Town of Fairplay is no different from many other mining com- munities in Colorado – they understand that drawing tourists to their community means greater prosperity for their community. However, unlike many small communities, Fairplay has taken an active role in planning for the future, and establishing new amenities for the tourists that pass through their Town. Over the last 5 years, the Town has completed two master plans, fo- cused on improvements to their community that will draw visitors to stay and play. The most recent of these, is the DHM Design River Park mas- ter plan. A grand vision, creating a dynamic and accessible park amenity that will highlight the town’s rich mining history, while providing active and passive recreational activities for residents and tourists alike. The History of Fairplay The tiny town of Fairplay hasn’t always been a quite crossroad commu- nity. It found its heyday in the mid-1800s when the mining boom in Col- orado was at its height. Fairplay, like many other mountain communities had its beginning in the rough and tumble gold rush. The gold boom cre- ated a bustling town with all of the creature comforts of larger cities, and the equitable system of distributing mining claims was how it got its name – Fairplay. Mining in this small community started with the placer mining boom, and these activities, along with a few, prosperous mines, produced gold and silver in Fairplay well into the middle of the 20th century. Today, Fairplay sits at the crossroads of Highway 285 and State Highway 9. In the sum- mer, it is a busy stop for tourists exploring the Colorado high country, making their way to Buena Vista and Breckenridge. Mining activities have given way to a new boom, the tourism boom, and Fairplay is ready to embrace this next phase of their community’s history. 18 Colorado Public Works Journal