Monday, March 20, 2017

Cripple Creek Colorado, the World's Greatest Gold Camp!



This was our first view of the high 9,494 foot valley of Cripple Creek, Colorado, called the "World's Greatest Gold Camp." In 1890, a local rancher, Robert Miller Womack, discovered a rich gold ore on his land, and the last great Colorado gold rush began. Thousands of prospectors flocked to the region and in three years the population increased from five hundred to ten thousand. At its peak in 1900 over 500 mines dotted the area, and in 71 years of operation 21 million ounces of gold were produced--more gold than the gold rushes in California and Alaska!


(All photos will enlarge if clicked on)


In my last blog post--click here to read--I showed you a town at the eastern foot of Pikes Peak, called Manitou Springs. Cripple Creek lies on the western face of Pikes Peak, and is a forty five minute drive from Colorado Springs.

Please click on to enlarge

A placard at the Heritage Center overlook shows the locations of many of the famous gold mines in the area of Cripple Creek. One can also drive a 131 mile  Colorado Scenic Byway Gold Belt Tour in this area.  Four wheel drive is required in certain parts of the byway which is unpaved. The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, can be accessed from the byway, where there are some of the richest and most diverse prehistoric fossil deposits in the world, such as those of an ancient red wood forest, insects and plants.

Please click on to enlarge

This placard shows "Poverty Gulch" area where Womack made the first gold discovery.


The free Cripple Creek Heritage Center, located at 9283 South Highway 67, is worth a visit, as it is full of fascinating exhibits about the Cripple Creek area's Gold Rush era, as well as information about the region's rich geologic and prehistoric history, the Native Americans who lived here, and recreational opportunities in the area.  I loved seeing the displays of vintage photographs from the early mining era.


After the Gold Rush era ended and production in the mines almost completely ended, Cripple Creek's population slowly dwindled until it was basically a ghost town. In 1991, Colorado voters allowed Cripple Creek to establish legalized gambling and many of the vacant historic buildings became casinos. The casinos have been successful in bringing back tourists and revenue to the area.


We were surprised and thrilled to see one of the wild donkeys in the area walking down the main street during our visit to the town! The donkeys are believed to be made up of several direct descendants of the donkeys that were used to work the mines in the Cripple Creek and Victor mining district in the early years of the gold camp. When miners left the area they often left their donkeys behind, free to roam. Volunteers help to take care of the donkeys and a big event every year is a fundraiser called Donkey Derby Day.


There are attractions in and around the town, and we know we will have to return one day to partake in more of them. The Mollie Kathleen Mine has the world's only 1,000 foot vertical gold mine tour. One can ride the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gage Railroad, a narrated four mile forty five minute steam engine railroad trip past many historic mines and beautiful scenery, or hike one of the many trails in the area, or take a free shuttle bus ride from casino to casino in the town.


Since my husband and I are not gamblers we enjoyed strolling around the town to visit\ its shops and ...


...reading the stories about the historic buildings pasts. Click on each photo collage to enlarge them to read about them.





These were just a few of the historic buildings in Cripple Creek.  After having lunch in a cafe, we continued on to our next destination, happy to have had a visit to Cripple Creek and to learn of its interesting history.


Our drive further west took us through areas of beautiful scenery....


 ....and the beginnings of autumnal tree colors, in September of last year.


We were on our way to Canon City to take a ride on the Royal Gorge Railroad...come back next post to see more.

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30 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, looks like another great town and place to visit. I can just imagine what it was like back in the gold rush era. The views are lovely. I would like to see the wild donkeys. Happy 1st day of Spring. Have a great new week ahead!

Maggie said...

I didn't know that the Colorado gold rush was bigger than California or Alaska, Cripple Creek looks like a wonderful place to visit what a great history it has. Love the donkeys roaming free and the restored building given a new lease of like by the Casino owners. Lovely to have your company again for Mosaic Monday today, hope you have a fab week.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

How fun ...had no idea there was so much else to do there ...all the historical displays ... and donkeys ! Thought it was just casinos, which aren't our thing either. Another one for our Colorado list! You make everything so bright and beautiful and interesting!

Michelle said...

You pick the type of places that I would visit, if I were there. What an interesting town and I have to admit that seeing a donkey roaming around would make my day! lol

Snap said...

Gold, fossils and donkeys! Yee-Haw! Interesting and fun post. You are enjoying exploring your new home. Happy Monday!

Daniela said...

To come and visit you here, Dearest Pat, is like to open a window on such a wonderful world, thank you for what you share with us !

Wishing you the best of weeks,
I'm sending my dearest love to you

XOXO Dany

Tom said...

...what a fun looking spot. Years ago I walked on a bridge over the Royal Gorge, it scared the day lights out of me. Thanks for stopping by, please come again.

Ruth Hiebert said...

Beautiful scenery. That places looks like it has lots of stuff to keep everyone busy.

Sharon said...

I would LOVE to visit Cripple Creek! That donkey on the sidewalk is too funny. Now the rock song Cripple Creek is running through my mind :)!

Gemma Wiseman said...

Love the design of the Heritage Centre. And so many wonderful landscapes in this area. A fascinating place.

Linda W. said...

I love exploring old mining towns. Reminds me of Deadwood, SD another ex-gold mining town that also legalized gambling.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Fun! Any place where wild donkeys might wander as they wonder is a cool place to me. I wonder if the song "Up on Cripple Creek" by the band was written about the actual place.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

That wild donkey is precious. Thanks for linking to Blue Monday!

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful variety and creative photos ~ what history and what a place ~ love the wild donkey ~ thanks,

Wishing you a Lovely Week ahead ~ ^_^

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Very interesting facts about the Cripple Creek area! Pat I had no idea Colorado mined more gold than Alaska and California combined! Your photos are so enjoyable as well as the description of the area. Thank you for sharing it! I hope you have a wonderful week. ♥

Jim said...

Good one.

Lorrie said...

The history of the gold rush is full of wild and wonderful tales. I enjoy visiting mining towns here in BC, too - some of the characters are so very interesting. I always like seeing your wide mountain vistas. Beautiful countryside.

Lady Fi said...

What fun! And the scenery is just fantastic.

handmade by amalia said...

What an interesting history this place has. I enjoyed visiting it with you and meeting donkeys along the way.
Amalia
xo

Tamar SB said...

Amazing!!

Cheryl @ TFD said...

I enjoyed this post very much, Pat! I love reading about places I've never been and seeing your beautiful photos. I have been to Royal Gorge, but it was very windy that day and so we only looked down into the gorge and didn't go on the bridge. I'm looking forward to seeing your photos of your visit there. I'd love to visit Cripple Creek area, it looks so interesting. Have a nice week!

happywonderer.com said...

Wonderful photos and history. Have a great week!

LV said...

Thank so much for taking us to Cripple Creek. Been there many times and thoroughly enjoyed. You did super job on giving great details. I have a niece that has cabin at Hartsel,CO. She loves going to a cemetery in Cripple Creek and seeing all the graves of those that made the town.

bettyl-NZ said...

I'm so glad you shared your visit with us as I will never see it for myself. It looks like a wonderful place to spend time and take photos. I can imagine the wonderful little shops, too!

Wandering Wren said...

Yay for the world's greatest Gold Camp - quite ironic that the place should have been given a new lease of life through the casinos. I'm not a supporter of gambling per se, but having worked for Las Vegas Sands, I have seen the impact this industry can have in the regeneration of places. Beautiful scenery you have shown us today Pat.
Wren x

Karen Harvey Cox said...

Hi Pat, as always you have such an amazing way of writing about places. I have never been to Colorado, but it looks divine. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I have been driving back to Bogland to find comfort in all my old friends and their glorious blogs.

Karen

Tanna said...

Another great tour info post, Pat! Love that little wild donkey strolling through town! hee hee Have a great week. blessings ~ tanna

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I remember going to Florrisant Fossil beds decades ago. That was a lot of gold mined in that area you wrote about. Whenever I hear "cripple creek" I can't help thinking of that Buffy Saint Marie song of years ago.

Photo Cache said...

Colorado is such a beautiful state. I wish I could visit it some day.

Agiyiga said...

So beautiful scenery and colors!