A Visit to Cripple Creek

Way back in the nineteen hundreds, I visited Cripple Creek, CO,  with my family. The town sure has changed in the last thirty years. The place I visited on that long-ago family vacation was a ghost town with only a few hundred people and one or two restaurants catering to the lost traveler. In 1991, gambling was legalized. The historic buildings are now home to casinos and a revived tourist trade.

historic cripple creek


I wasn’t there *quite* this long ago!


At 9,494 feet above sea level, Cripple Creek wasn’t much more than a place to graze cattle until 1890. That’s when Robert Miller ‘Bob’ Womach kicked off the last great Colorado gold rush. In less than three years, the town doubled in size form 5,000 to 10,000. Poor Bob died penniless, but he sprouted a town.

cripple creek

Most of those early buildings were hastily-constructed wood structures. Which worked out great until 1896 when a fire destroyed half the town. Four days later, another fire destroyed the other half. Following the devastating fires, all the new buildings along the center of town were made out of brick–by order of the mayor. When you walk along Bennett Street, you’ll note that almost every building was constructed in 1896.

cripple creek1Check out the historic mining building perched on the edge of the hill.

cripple creek2


They are building a new mountain on the mountain.

The Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company still conducts business near town. A form of extraction where large scale open pit mining exists now. The ground is dug up and pulverized into an enormous pile, and cyanide is used to leach the extraction of near-surface ore material. You can take tours of both the old and new mining operations. Miles of tunnels are dug into the mountain. The entrances are blocked and grated, and are currently serving as a home to bats. 

I took these pictures form the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. It’s a great ride on a real-live stinky steam train. If you’re ever in Colorado Springs, I highly recommend the gorgeous drive up the mountain and a visit to the beautiful town. Don’t forget to grab a bite at The Creek Bar & Restaurant. The burgers are wonderful. And stop by The Old Homestead Museum. A former parlor house filled with incredible antiques.

cripple creek4


Have you ever visited a ghost town? Or a former ghost town?!

I’ll give away one copy of The Cattleman Meets His Match to one person who leaves a comment!

The Cattleman Meets His MatchGALAHAD IN A STETSON

Cowboy John Elder needs a replacement crew of cattle hands to drive his longhorns to Kansas—he just never figured they’d be wearing petticoats. Traveling with Moira O’Mara and the orphan girls in her care is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Yet despite Moira’s declaration of independence, the feisty beauty evokes John’s every masculine instinct to protect, defend…marry?

Moira is grateful for John’s help when he rescues her—and she can’t deny that his calm, in-control manner proves comforting. But she is determined not to let anything get in the way of her plans to search for her long-lost brother at journey’s end. However, can John show her a new future—one perfect for them to share?

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18 thoughts on “A Visit to Cripple Creek”

  1. I’ve been to only one ghost town back in the 1900’s (wow! that sounds old). It was an old mining town in California and the only time tourists were allowed in was during the annual chili cook-off. There were celebrity judges and when I was up on the side of the hill going through the town I encountered the actor Ben Johnson. I asked if I could take his picture and he told me only if I was in it with him. 🙂

    Would love to win your book!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. In the early 1980’s we went to Tucson to visit a friend of my husbands. We went to visit Old Tucson, Arizona. Several movies and TV shows were filmed here.They had a staged bank robbery/gunfight. We also wanted to drive on the famous Route 66. We drove through Winslow, AZ and Oatman, AZ. Winslow was made famous in the Eagles song Take It Easy and there is a statue that looks like Jackson Browne on a corner, a dedication to the song’s creator. Oatman has a few hundred inhabitants so it’s not a complete ghost town. It has a colorful history from it’s gold mining heydays. Burros still roam the streets! They have staged gunfights too.

  3. Hi Sherri, I’ve been to Cripple Creek and it’s sure was a lively place. I didn’t expect to find all those casinos.

    A couple of weeks ago I spent a pleasant day in Calico, California. It now has shops and restaurant, but the old buildings and “feel” of the place are still intact.

  4. Cindy – We laugh because my daughter was born in 1999 – her brothers say she was born in the ‘olden days’.

    Laurie – I’d love to drive Route 66! What an adventure 🙂

    Margaret – I was amazed! When I was there in…oh…I think it was 1983 – the place was darn near a ghost town. Beautiful country, though.

  5. I’ve never visited a ghost town, but once on a road trip as a child we passed a town that had been buried by a flood or landslide. All I remember is the tops of the roofs peeking out and the eerie feeling I had as I imagined what that day must have been like.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. I have never visited a ghost town not sure I could be that brave to visit hahahah, but we use to live in an old Victorian house as a kid that was haunted.

  7. Several years ago, we visited the Old Hundred Gold Mine outside Silverton, Colorado. The Old Hundred is near the ghost town of Howardsville and is an interesting place to visit! The mine is no longer used, but it is open for tours in the summer. High up on the mountain above the mine, the former boarding house for the miners can still be seen.

  8. That is something I have not done yet… it would be very interesting to see a ghost town… imagine what things were like for it when it was in its heyday… thanks for sharing the post and pics! 🙂

  9. Britney – Silverton is another great mining town!

    Colleen – Virginia City, NV is another fun place for old/new west towns.

    Mary – I wish we could have gotten better pictures – the clouds were rolling in…but it’s quite a lovely town.

  10. What a fun and interesting post! I have not visited a ghost town before. Hopefully one day I will.

  11. Silverton, Co is a great place to visit for ghost towns and mining history. Animus Forks just up the way fro Silverton is a great ghost town. The Old One Hundred mine and boarding house can still be seen and adventurous hickers climb up the mountain to get a closer look.

  12. I’ve never been to a ghost town. I guess I haven’t traveled enough. There were times I felt watched.

  13. Cripple Creek sounds like a “must-see” destination the next time I am in Colorado to visit family. I love old towns. With the thought of your pictures dating back 30 years, it prompts me that I need to dig out my old photos taken with film of the ghost town Bodie and get them scanned onto my computer. Nestled high in the valley east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it also has a rich mining history.

    Your featured novel sounds interesting. I would love to read it. Thanks for sharing.

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