1920s cars climbing switchback roads

A Harrowing Adventure: The Backroad to Purgatory Mesa

The trip up the Mesa overlooking Purgatory Springs was always a harrowing adventure on the Mesa Backroad. This serpentine road was called the “most dangerous road” in the world. When completed, the entire length of the road featured 25 switchbacks and was built at such a steep incline that cars going up the road had to travel backward to keep their engines running, since fuel pumps didn’t exist at the time.

Thankfully, the Purgatory Springs Funicular Railroad served the Tuberculosis Sanitorium and the Lighthouse Supper Club up on the “hilltop” making access up to the Mesa easy from Main Street.

Wintery Mountain Road 1920s Car

At Purgatory Springs the Colorado Winter always comes fast and hard. Circa 1920s.

Getting through the mud required teamwork. 

1920s Car Stuck in Mud with Men Pushing it Out
2 women pose on a 1920s car on a winter road

Before the days of ‘All-Wheel” drive, the backroad to Purgatory Springs was a slushy and often dangerous adventure. Circa 1927.

Sneaking a ride up the Mesa Road near Purgatory Springs. Let’s hear it for added off-road traction.

Boy catching a ride on the back of a Model T Ford
1920s SnowCat Vehicle

Winter in the Purgatory Springs was always a blast, but sometimes tricky to get around — thank goodness for Lou Kraukauer’s “Skimobile.”

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Contact Us

Inquiries must be notarized, stamped & mailed to:

C/O Sparky Boorman
Purgatory Hot Springs Resort
Purgatory Springs. Colorado

Otherwise, use this form.