Uptop Historic District

In 1877, The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad crossed the Rocky Mountains for the first time over La Veta Pass in Huerfano County. Aptly named “Railroad Above the Clouds,” this train line attracted tourists from across the globe who wished to ride the highest railroad in the world.

These rides didn’t last long. In 1899, the narrow-gauge railroad tracks were torn up and moved farther south. Soon after, a fire raged through the area, burning down everything but the train’s stone depot—which still stands today.

The coal industry brought life back to Uptop, where two horse-drawn sawmills were erected for the creation of pit props—a length of lumber used to prop up the roofs of tunnels in coal mines. But when the coal mines died out, so did the sawmills. Still, this was not the end of Uptop!

Cool Fact: For centuries, Native American tribes came here to collect medicinal plants. Prayer trees shaped by Utes still stand.

A road was built in place of the old rail line, and motorists took the newly paved road up and over the pass, stopping at Uptop’s tavern for music, drinks, poker, and dancing. After World War II, a small ski resort was built, though it lasted for just a short time. When Highway 160 was built, bypassing Uptop, the small town was finally abandoned for good and became a ghost town.

Two sisters bought the property in 2001 and have since repaired it by hand. Over time, they’ve preserved nine historic buildings, several outbuildings, and some archaeological sites. The stone depot is now a museum and the entire Uptop area a National Historic District.

Today, Uptop Historic District hosts cross-country skiers, hikers, and dance and music festivals, most notably the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival.