Originally Published August 9, 2009
One of the first stops on the Denver, South Park and Pacific railroad on its trip up the Platte Canyon is South Platte, a very small town at the confluence of the North and South Platte rivers. Also known as Symes, it had an official post office from 1889 through 1937.
The South Platte Hotel, the only remaining building for the town site, was built by the Zang Brewing Company since South Platte became a regular stop for those going to the mining town of Nighthawk. South Platte also became a regular stop on the Sunday picnic route. (The route the train used to follow is now partially blocked by the Strontia Springs reservoir, build in 1983)
Charles and Mata Walbrecht managed the hotel for a percentage of the profits, later buying the hotel, adding cabins and a general store. Mata ran the post office as well as being cook and housekeeper for the hotel, while Charles ran the store and a small tap room up until Prohibition. Mr. Walbrecht was also convinced by Reverend J.A. Schmidt to add picnic grounds, enhancing the likelihood of getting business.
In the early 1920s, the Walbrechts were held up by escapees from Canon City prison. Apparently, both were seriously injured and taken to Denver in the baggage car of the then Colorado and Southern train. Mr. Walbrecht never fully recovered from the injuries.
Soon after, the railroad shut down most of its operations, including the track from Denver to South Platte. While car traffic from the South Platter River Road as well as from the S. Foxton and the West Platte River Road, the town slowly shut down. After the Walbrechts died, the hotel was shut down, presumably in 1934 and was, for a short time, used as a boy’s camp. In 1937, the post office also closed, and South Platte soon became a ghost town.
Little is known actually known about the town; it seemed to really have been more of a stop along the way, containing the hotel, the store, train depot and little else.
Today, only the South Platte Hotel still exists; you can reach it by coming up Hwy 285 to Conifer and taking the Foxton Road exit. When you reach the W. Platte River Road, turn left and continue on several miles. You will see the hotel on the right side of the road; there is a parking area across from it allowing you to park and walk the old railroad bed to the Strontia Springs Reservoir. The hotel is part of a Denver Water research project, so please respect the signs on the building and don’t trespass. While this is a dirt road, it is very well maintained and accessible by any two wheel drive vehicle.
Colorado and Southern Narrow Gauge by Mallory Hope Ferrell 1981
From Scratch: History of Jefferson County, Colorado
By Members of the Jefferson County Historical Commission 1985
“South Platte Hotel called ‘better class resort’ “ by Frances Melrose Rocky Mountain NewsJune 9, 1985
File from Denver Public Library Western History Archives dated February 10, 1957 – source otherwise unknown.