Western history Western Travel

Fall Tour Over Boreas Pass

Mt. Silverheels
Mt. Silverheels from Boreas Pass

Every year, I look forward to taking a fall daytrip when the aspen leaves are at their peek of goldness in the high country. This year, we found splendid scenery by driving over 11,000+ foot Boreas Pass, from Como in Colorado’s South Park, over the Continental Divide, into Breckenridge. You might say we “crossed over the Great Divide” (a common western expression for dying), and lived to tell about it!

The Boreas Pass road follows a narrow gauge railroad route built in 1880 by the Denver, South Park, and Pacific Railroad. The line reached Breckenridge in 1882 and Leadville in 1884 during the race among newly organized railroad companies to be the first to transport goods and people across the rugged Rocky Mountains. And rugged it is. The Boreas Pass Road climbs and winds its way across the Continental Divide, allowing fabulous views, and many OMG moments. Travel across the pass is an exciting adventure and a step back in railroad history.

Those who follow my writing might also be aware of the tale of Silverheels, the good-hearted dance hall girl who stayed to nurse the residents of Buckskin Joe back to health during a smallpox epidemic in the Fairplay Mining District camp after other residents  had left. Mt. Silverheels was named to honor this fascinating legend of female courage and pulchritude. Boreas Pass allows rare and beautiful views of the backside of Silverheels, decorated and framed by leaves of pure gold.

Joyce B. Lohse, 9/22/10