If you’re driving the highway north out of Fairplay, making your way to Bailey (or, more likely, Denver) you probably won’t even notice it. There’s a little green highway sign that says “Como” that doesn’t even give the elevation or the population or anything and off to the west there’s a small conglomeration of old buildings that you’re not really sure if it’s a town or a large (but run-down) ranch.
It’s a town.
In the heyday of the gold and coal mining–circa 1870-1900–Como had as many as 4000 permanent residents and maybe another 6000 more living in tents. It was even one of the three finalists for the city that would be the state capitol. [Many argue--and probably rightly so--that Como was merely a Perot-esque candidate to split the Pueblo vote and make sure Denver became the capitol but, hey! Como was on the ballot. Kind of like losing the World Series, no one can take away the fact that at least you made it there!]
Nowadays, the population of Como is less than a hundred–some say way less. Streets that once teemed with people and sported business with such intriguing names as “The Turf Exchange” (a bar) are just dirt streets with few or no buildings and, in some cases, no clear reason for still being a street. There are a couple businesses still operating, like the Como Mercantile and the Hotel, but don’t count on doing much biz there as they are somewhat seasonal.
I was in Como for a couple weeks recently. Not physically, just in my mind as I did the final re-write for “Overstreet”. I have spent many hours in past years walking the streets of Como, actually eating at the Hotel dining room (which, at least in the 1980s, had some of the best food you’ll ever taste anywhere), and leaning against the 9796 rock as I tried (unsucessfully) to woo a girl. I would like walk those physical streets again, but it’s a bit melancholy because I’m picturing what things must have been like in the old days. On the other hand, when I sit here on a hot Texas day, with a less-than-cool laptop PC on my lap, I’ll take even the cool air of the ghost town.
Hope you’re looking forward to going there with me! Look for my new novel in July 2011.