Sam Hartsel arrived in South Park in 1860 thinking he’d be a miner. Instead, he realized there was more future (and money) in raising food for the miners. He started with a 160-acre homestead in 1862 but soon, his operations had expanded into a 10,000-acre ranch, trading post, sawmill, hotel, blacksmith shop, and commercial hot springs and bathhouse.
“Hartsel’s enterprises boomed when the Colorado Midland Railway reached South Park from Colorado Springs. Called “the Stockmen’s Railroad,” this standard gauge railway could carry heavier loads than the narrow gauge Denver, South Park & Pacific that ran from Denver through Como. One way the Midland shipped hay and cattle, the other way came lots of tourists to fish, gather wildflowers and soak in Hartsel’s hot springs.
In a large meadow southeast of Hartsel, on the Buckley Ranch, stand 12 vacant buildings looking much as they did in the 1930’s. First settled in 1874, the Buckley Ranch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property is now part of the Spinney Mountain State Wildlife Area and is managed for its’ Gold Medal trout fishing.
Charles L. Hall established one of Colorado’s earliest industrial enterprises, The Colorado Salt Works, on his ranch west of Hartsel in 1862. By 1868, this business was producing 4,000 pounds of salt daily, much of it for use in processing gold ore. Hall’s son-in-law, Thomas McQuaid, built the Salt Works Ranch into one of Colorado’s largest cattle operations, comprising some 80,000 acres. Salt Works Ranch is still owned by descendants of Charles Hall and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.”