Why on earth did people build railroads up here in the mountains in the first place? And, a whole total of 3 of them too, plus two Trolley lines?
Short answer to that question would probably be GOLD FEVER!!!
The long answer, well, it would still be Gold Fever, but with a longer story attached to it. It all started back when mankind was not known, the earth was younger...
Oh, I see, not that long story... Okay, how about this text then from an old picture book I have? It's from around 1915 so it's not too updated, but is is a good show for that this part of my site is about, sharing texts that has been published many years ago, about the "Greatest Gold Camp on Earth" - the Cripple Creek District!
BTW, I used to have some links to other sites with background history for the area, but as sites changes and link breaks I found to hard to keep track of them, so I suggest you use your favorite search engine, like for instance Google, to search for Cripple Creek History to find those sites that might be out there.
On this page however, you can on the links to your left find various old articles about the area, all being published in some form or another, and collected here for your viewing pleasure.
Or, you can find here a dated overview, an short (textual) and fast list of dates in relationship to the area's history, and my own special dates in the end.
That was better, yes?, I thought so... Okay then, let's start with this story below, which was found is a tourist brochure from about 1915;
IT IS a story of engrossing interest, not only to that large element of the world's population to whom the discovery of treasure appeals, but to the student of human achievements and human progress as well.
To the former class the story of Cripple Creek would seem like a page from the Arabian Nights. To the latter it speaks of the restless search which has been prolonged through the centuries for that fabled land in which nature had filled her storehouse with golden treasure, El Dorado.
Cripple Creek, a name to conjure with, is known wherever the English tongue is known, a familiar name wherever the yellow metal is regarded as the one great thing to be desired and earnestly sought for.
The output of its great mines, which has so materially swelled the world's supply of the precious metal, opened the eyes of the world to the fact that a section of the long-sought El Dorado had been found.
How the geologists examined the formation of these hills, and how the men versed in the lore of the books, declared that it was impossible to find gold here in paying quantities because the formation was not right, is an old story which has been often told, and the tale, although interesting, is beyond the scope of a work such as this.
The discovery and location of the Cripple Creek district was prefaced by two mining excitements, neither of which amounted to anything, the fact being doubtless due to the difference of conditions here prevailing from those known in gold-bearing regions.
Then came Bob Womack, and to the persistency and pluck of this indomitable prospector is due the fact that the world has been enriched by many millions of golden treasure.
Laughed at as a visionary, regarded by some as being weak-minded because of his ceaseless search through the hills of the Cripple Creek region for the gold which he declared existed there, Bob Womack, the discoverer of Cripple Creek, never rested until his mission was accomplished and the great gold camp had been given to the world.
Robert Womack was born in Kentucky fifty-six years ago. He was of sturdy Irish-American stock, the kind that peoples wildernesses and discovers hidden treasure.
Of the blood of Daniel Boone, it was but natural that the Womacks should be found upon the borders of civilization.
The Womacks, father and son, came to Colorado in 1872,' and located a cattle ranch about fifteen miles north of Pueblo.
Robert, for several years after coming to Colorado, worked as a cowboy in the employ of his father. In 1876 father and son came to the Cripple Creek region, and purchased the Welty homestead, which covered what is now the townsite of Cripple Creek.
As time progressed Womack acquired other lands, notably the Requa townsite and the ground in the vicinity of Mount Pisgah, which were added to the ranch, known as the Broken Box ranch.
Along in 1886 the Womacks, who had mortgaged the ranch to Bennett & Myers, found that they were unable to pay even the interest. The Denver firm foreclosed, and the elder Womack returned to the ranch near Colorado Springs.
Bob had always been impressed with the idea that the hills surrounding Cripple Creek contained gold in paying quantities, and, after the loss of the Broken Box ranch, he still continued to make it his home, performing any kind of work to pay for his board, while he spent his days in the hills, prospecting.
He was regarded as very much of a nuisance by Manager Carr of the ranch, who believed that he was weak-minded upon the subject of gold.
Mr. Carr reported to Mr. Myers that every hole sunk by Womack meant the loss of a steer.
When Mr. Myers visited the ranch he and Carr went to where Womack was at work, up Poverty Gulch, at what is now the Gold King; and, calling Bob from the hole, Myers told him that he would have to leave the ranch.
Bob denied that his prospects had caused the loss of any cattle, and before the proprietor of the ranch left the prospector had partially converted him to his own opinion of the possibilities of the region, and Myers took with him to Denver a sack of rock from the Gold King.
Whether the Denver assayer who received the rock had contemptuously thrown it into the alley, or whether his tests were not of the proper sort may never be known, but the fact remains that he failed to report a single trace in what afterward turned out to be the richest ore ever found upon the American continent, and Myers was deprived of the opportunity of a lifetime.
However, Bob Womack made him exceedingly rich after all, for the despised ranch of the Womacks became the Cripple Creek townsite, the sale of which, according to Mr. Myers' own statement, netted the firm of Bennett & Myers a large fortune.
Bob Womack sold the El Paso Gold King claim for $300, and the purchaser a little later sold a third interest for $35,000.
Today the property could not be purchased for many thousands of dollars. It has already made several men rich.
During the years '90 and '91 Womack had between thirty and forty locations in the camp. Generous to a fault, whenever one of his friends was looking for a location, Bob would present him with a claim; and thus it came to pass that some of the best properties in the district passed through his hands without his having received the slightest benefit therefrom.
The Independence mine was located Fourth of July day, 1891, by W. S. Stratton. It was while he was trudging over Battle Mountain that he noticed a stream in the gulch below.
His animal was thirsty, and he started down that he might give it water. Passing down the hillside, his eye caught sight of the large blowout on the Independence and the outcropping on the Washington. Both claims were located.
Work was first started on the Washington claim, Stratton believing that the outcrop gave better promise of mineral than the blowout. In fact, he gave a bond and lease on the Independence, which, however, was not taken up; when the lease expired Mr. Stratton commenced operations on the Independence, the development of which, a few years later, enabled him to sell the entire property for $10,000,000.
Mining experts, men of great experience in underground work, now began to visit the district. Many made adverse reports.
That there was ore they admitted, but many of them put themselves on record that the ore occurred only in surface deposits.
They explained how impossible it was for gold to exist in this formation. They turned their backs on the infant camp, and left behind them the treasure-vaults long sought for.
In 1893 silver was demonetized, and business generally throughout the state was paralyzed. Miners began to flock here from the great silver camps. Capital was still wary.
Then, like a ray of sunshine through the darkness, came the announcement that the Pharmacist Company, on Bull Hill, would pay a dividend.
That news turned the tide to the new El Dorado, and people from every quarter of the globe began arriving. The stage coaches rolled in, packed to the boot.
When the close of the year 1893 came there had been shipped a total of $2,500,000 worth of ore.
In the succeeding year, 1894, C. M. McNeill erected a chlorination mill, of seventy-five tons capacity, at Lawrence, and to him is due the credit of treating the Cripple Creek ores by the chemical process.
The mill burned, and then he, together with Spencer Penrose, went to Colorado City, where they erected one of the greatest milling and reduction works in the world.
The Cripple Creek district, up to the close of 1915, has produced over $350,000,000 in gold. This enormous production came from ground between the surface and a depth of one thousand feet; and there still remains practically untouched within those limits an immense amount of unexplored territory.
The present production is about $1,250,000 a month. No other similar sized district in the world can show such a record - and its future is likely to eclipse its past, by reason of the drainage work now being carried on.
They had a way with words in the old days I must say. This book I believe is from around 1915, which sort of fit's me well since I plan to model this area not much later then this anyway...
But being that old, and me not changing the text, I can't guarantee that everything said there is the truth - look more at it as a sort of introduction and historic account of this area.
The look through the District History as Yearly Highlights is also put here:
"Pikes Peak or Bust!" gold rush. Placer gold is discovered along the east side of the Front Range and in the Arkansas Valley. Although there is some prospecting, no discovery is made at Cripple Creek.
H. T. Wood of the Hayden Survey reports finding gold near Mt. Pisgah. There is a small rush, but no ore is discovered.
Reported discovery of rich placer deposits near Mt. Pisgah proves to be a salting scam. Despite another rush to the area, the Cripple Creek Deposits remain undiscovered.
Since 1880 "Cowboy" Bob Womack, a local ranch hand with a fondness for booze, has been prospecting the area. He finds several veins in Poverty Gulch and takes pieces of high grade to Colorado Springs, but the sober townsfolk don't take him seriously.
Two prospectors from Colorado Springs find Cowboy Bob at work in Poverty Gulch. They send 1,100 pounds of surface ore to Pueblo and it assays at $200 gold per ton. At last Cripple Creek is discovered, and the great rush is on!
At dawn on July 4, Winfield Scott Stratton, a carpenter and self-taught mineralogist, follows a hunch and locates the Independence and Washington claims in a briar patch on Battle Mountain. Stratton's original samples ran 19 ounces per ton, or $380.00 per ton.
The hills are swarming with prospectors. Bob Womack has sold his bonanza (the site of the Gold King mine) for $300.
The town of Cripple Creek is incorporated in February.
By October at least 17 mines are shipping ore and two railroads are being built to the district. The Portland mine, which will become the district's largest producer, is located as a small claim by three prospectors.
The country is in economic depression. The Mint in India ceased buying silver, and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act was repealed by Congress. Silver mines in Colorado are devastated. Cripple Creek's gold becomes the most viable mining district in the state.
Brothers Albert E. and Leslie Carlton start a freighting business between the district and the incomplete Midland Terminal railway after A. E. secures the concession to sell coal in the district for the Colorado Fuel & Iron Corporation.
The Western Federation of Miners organizes miners in opposition to an attempt by mine owners to reduce the established wage of $3.00 for an eight-hour day. A general strike is called on February 1. The mine owners hire scabs, and send 1,200 "deputy sheriffs" into the district. The deputies are prevented from marching to the town of Altman by 700 armed strikers in the "Battle of Bull Hill." Governor Waite sends the state militia to the district to protect life and property, and appoints a Committee on Arbitration to settle the strike. The strike ends in June, with the $3.00 wage for an eight-hour day still in effect.
Whitman Cross and R. A. F. Penrose, Jr. investigate the geology and mines of the district for the U. S. Geological Survey.
On July 1 the narrow gauge Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad is completed. On the first return trip to Florence, two coaches overturn at Anaconda, killing a passenger. Following this inauspicious start, the F. & C.C. becomes one of the most profitable railroads in Colorado, hauling Cripple Creek ores to mills in Florence.
In December the standard gauge Midland Terminal Railway is completed from Divide to the district, providing direct access to mills in Colorado Springs. Despite labor troubles, production for the year exceeds 1000,000 ounces of gold, and Cripple Creek becomes Colorado's most productive gold camp.
The Portland Mine reaches a depth of 600 feet, and the Independence mine a depth of 470 feet. Stratton, now a rich man, begins to purchase other mining properties in the district. He has a theory that the major vein systems converge in the vicinity of Globe and Gold Hills, and that under these hills will be found the richest lodes in the district.
On April 25 fire destroys eight blocks in Cripple Creek. The Blaze begins in the Central Dance Hall when a stove is knocked over in a fight between a dance hall girl and her boyfriend. This is a mere curtain raiser for the conflagration which follows on April 29. The second fire begins in the kitchen of the Portland Hotel, and consumes most of the town, even though buildings are dynamited to act as fire breaks. Cripple Creek becomes a tent city until brick and lumber can be brought in for rebuilding.
His freight business and coal concession have made A. E. Carlton rich. He buys the First National Bank of Cripple Creek, and begins to purchase mining property.
Teller County is created from part of El Paso and Fremont Counties. Cripple Creek becomes the new county seat.
W. S. Stratton, his health failing, sells the Independence mine to Stratton's Independence Ltd. Of London for $10,000,000. At the this time it is the biggest mining deal in U.S history.
On August 21 a fire starts in Jenny Thompson's 999 Dance Hall, and most of Victor is destroyed. Like Cripple Creek, Victor rises rapidly from the ashes. Most of the business and commercial buildings are rebuilt with brick rather than lumber.
As the new century begins, the Cripple Creek district boasts a population of about 50,000, service by two railroads to the "outside,' an electric interurban railway system connecting the communities in the camp, eleven dairies, a tallow vat, a limekiln, a greenhouse, numerous bars and pleasure places, and over 300 mines.
Vice-Presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt, campaigning for William McKinley, the gold standard, and a fixed gold price of $20.67 per ounce, visits the district. In Victor, T. R.'s train is met by a hostile crowd of miners, who force the hero of San Juan Hill to abandon his speech and make a strategic withdrawal. He continues on to Cripple Creek where the audience cheers him enthusiastically.
District production for the year reaches 878,067 troy ounces of gold, a record never exceeded by the camp.
A third railroad, the Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway (or, The Short Line), is completed. It is built by the mine owners to undercut the high freight rates charged by the other two railroads. In April Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt rides the new CS&CCD and pronounces it to be, "the trip that bankrupts the English language." Cheering crowds meet T. R.'s train in Victor, where a year before irate miners had forced him to flee.
W. S. Stratton, the "Midas of the Rockies," dies on September 14 at the age of 54. Civic groups in Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek are outraged when his will leaves them nothing. After bequests to a few friends and relatives, Stratton leaves the bulk of his estate to found an institution for orphans and the aged poor in Colorado Springs.
In February the Western Federation of Miners strikes for higher wages at the Standard Mill near Colorado Springs. No settlement is reached and the walkout spreads to other mills. On August 10 the Federation calls its members out of all the Cripple Creek mines shipping ore to the struck mills. The already tense situation deteriorates when Governor Peabody, responding to urging by the mine owners, orders the militia into the district. Adjutant General Sherman M. Bell proceeds to suspend civil law, and erects a "bull pen," or stockade, for the imprisonment of strikers and sympathizers without trial. Bell's intemperate proclamations and dictatorial orders shift much public and press support to the cause of the miners. A series of bombings and other outrages for which labor and the owners blame each other leads to an official declaration of martial law in December.
Waldemar Lindgren and Frederick L. Ransom, assisted by Louis C. Gratton, undertake a re-survey of the geology and mines for the U. S. Geological Survey, which is published as Professional Paper No. 54.
The strike continues as owners operate the mines with non-union labor. The district erupts in violence. Harry Orchard, acting with at least the implied support of radical union leaders in Denver, plants a bomb on the 600 level of the Vindicator mine, killing a mine superintendent and foreman. On June 6 he detonates another bomb which kills 15 non-union miners at the Independence depot. That afternoon unknown persons fire on a mass meeting in Victor, killing two and wounding three. The militia breaks up the mob, then fires on the union hall, wounding four. After the Federation men surrender, mobs sack union halls in the district. Hundreds of union men are locked into box cars and deported to the plains of Kansas and New Mexico. Orchard later murders former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg with a bomb at his Caldwell, Idaho home. Upon arrest for the Idaho bombing, Orchard implicates the WFM leadership. William D. Haywood, Charles H. Moyer, and George Pettibone are kidnapped in Denver, then taken for trial in Idaho along with Orchard. Defense attorney Clarence Darrow obtains acquittals on the murder charges for the three union leaders, but Orchard goes to prison for life. Although bitterness will continue for years to come, a gradual peace comes to the troubled district.
The Golden Cycle cyanide mill opens at Colorado Springs in February, is destroyed by fire in August, and is rebuilt by December. The new mill treats most of the Cripple Creek district ore.
A. E. Carlton takes over driving the Roosevelt drainage tunnel after little headway is made during the first year of work.
"Cowboy" Bob Womack dies penniless in Colorado Springs on August 10.
Driving of the Roosevelt drainage tunnel (portal altitude 8,020 feet) allows the Portland mine to open a 1,500 foot level, and the Independence mine a 1,000 foot level.
Five miles of Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad track are washed out by a July flood. The ensuing decision to abandon the F. & C.C. effectively forces closure of the mills at Florence.
Cripple Creek, which seldom gets much snow, receives a record fall in December. Trains are snowbound and the towns are isolated until a borrowed Colorado Midland rotary plow opens the railroads from Colorado Springs.
The district's most elaborate washing plant is installed at the Vindicator mine.
The "Cresson Vug," or "Big Stope," a calavarite-lined vug, is discovered in the Cresson Mine 1200 level. Ore containing up to 4,000 troy ounces of gold per ton is mined under armed guard. Sixty thousand ounces are produced in a few weeks.
Writer Julian Street describes his visit to Cripple Creek's red light district on Myers Avenue in Colliers magazine. The Cripple Creek city council demands an apology for defaming the community in the national media. When no apology is forthcoming the council retaliates by changing the name of Myers Avenue to Julian Street.
A. E. Carlton acquires the Golden Cycle mine and mill, and consolidates his holdings to become the principal magnate of the district. Roosevelt drainage tunnel completed for a total length of 24,255 feet. The tunnel results in a general lowering of the water level in the mines by 700 feet.
The old F. & C.C. railroad grade is opened to automobile traffic as the Phantom Canyon Highway.
The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway suspends service. The roadbed becomes a toll road, and is now the Gold Camp Road.
A. E. Carlton dies on September 9.
Lowest annual district production (109,346) troy ounces gold) since 1894.
Price of gold increased from $20.70 to $35.00 per troy ounce. Price increase and depression stimulate renewed interest in the district.
Carlton deep level drainage tunnel (portal altitude 6,893 feet) completed to drain camp about 1,000 feet below the level of the Roosevelt drainage tunnel. Crews set a record driving 611 miles of tunnel in 2 years and 5 days.
Government war-time restrictions (L-208) force many mines to close.
The Golden Cycle Mill in Colorado Springs closes, and as a consequence the Midland Terminal Railway is abandoned due to a lack of traffic.
The Carlton Mill, near Elkton, opens to treat district ores locally.
The Carlton Mill closes, having processed 437,037 troy ounces of gold. Mining in the district virtually stops. Tourism becomes the district's main industry.
Gold cap of $35.00 per ounce is lifted, permitting gold to fluctuate on the market like any other metal.
Golden Cycle starts rehab of Ajax mine. Contractor sinks shaft to 3350 feet below collar.
Golden Cycle and Texasgulf, Inc. form Joint Venture for exploration of district.
Gold price hits a record high of $850 an ounce.
Production of first dore at Silver State Mining's vat leach operation on Globe Hill. Decline driven into Cresson pipe from surface using rubber tired equipment. First use of rubber tired equipment in the district.
Hecla joins Joint Venture as operator.
Ajax shuts down. Nerco Minerals purchases 60% of Silver State Mining Co.
Nerco Minerals purchases Texasgulf interests and forms Pikes Peak Mining Company. Some heap leaching.
Independence Mining Co. purchases stock of Pikes Peak Mining Co. and expands leaching and surface mining operations as operator of Joint Venture.
I, Linda, and my husband, visits this area on our honeymoon for the first time. An instant success, even for the few hours we spent there!
Anglo-gold acquires Independence Mining Co. and expands mining and leaching.
Our second visit to this area, it's now March and I'm now totally in love with this place.
June, finely another visit. It's been too long, much have changed, but it was a good trip.
December, got a chance to do a single day trip while up in Denver on a visit, loved it!