Fairplay was founded in 1859 by gold prospectors who'd been driven from nearby Tarryall. The miners at Tarryall had staked more claims than they could possibly work but they wouldn't give up anything to the newcomers and chased them all away. Fairplay got its name from these new prospectors who were willing to guarantee that any newcomer would "get a Fair Play" there. In the end, Tarryall is gone and Fairplay is still here, a thriving community built at almost 10,000 feet in elevation.
The church pictured to the left was built in 1874, as was the old courthouse pictured below. Fairplay is filled with historic buildings from the period including the reconstructed town of South Park City.
There is a photo in the slideshow above of a lake on the outskirts of Fairplay. That lake was probably created by the action of mining dredges working their way through the streambed gravels of the South Platte River. All around Fairplay and up into the mountains around Alma you can see the mounds and ridges of gravel that was dug up, sifted through for the gold and silver content and then dumped along the way. During the Great Depression there was a large influx of the unemployed who came to work over the remains of many of the old mines and tailings dumps. Every time there is a major upswing in global mineral prices the area sees new businesses coming in to rework the old mines and try to search out new mineral finds. Mining is still a major employer here but tourism has become the primary money-maker.
During the last weekend of July, Fairplay hosts the "Burro Days" Festival, an event that commemorates the area's mining heritage. A 29-mile burro race (one person, one burro) from Fairplay to the 13,000-foot summit of Mosquito Pass is the main event of the festival. The 1st prize is $1,000 and takes about 5 hours to complete.
West of Fairplay is Mt. Sherman (14,036'), to the northwest is Mt. Democrat (14,148'), Mt. Bross (14,172'), Mt. Cameron (14,239') and Mt. Lincoln (14,286'), and to the north is Mt. Silverheels (13,822').
The old Fairplay School
The old Park County Courthouse, now the Park County Library
The Fairplay Welcome Center
Part of original Fairplay
The South Park City ticket office
Part of the South Park City Museum