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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?