When nature formed the wonderful deposit of gold at Cripple Creek she also chisled a great, long, irregular groove in the solid rock which extends unbroken to the valley below that the precious metal might, after discovery, be safely conveyed to refineries in the east and there melted into coin which has since jingled in the pockets of all who pin their faith to Cripple Creek.
This same groove or canon was selected in which to construct a railroad to the now famous gold camp. That line is the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad, said to be 80 per cent. curves and climbs precisely one mile high in its length of 40 miles from Florence to Cripple Creek, and is famous over both continents as a marvel of engineering achievement and dramatic spectacular attractiveness. If you can mentally recall all you have ever heard of other scenic routes and multiply it by the wildest dreams of the most fertile imagination on mountain railroading, you will then be short 33 per cent. in forming a correct impression of the fascinating loveliness and sublime matchless delight experienced by a trip over this line. It is the handiwork of nature's architect, which pen and brush have been and ever will be deficient to picture!
Soon after leaving Florence, where continental connection is made with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, the little train darts into the canon and loses itself in the strange world of fantastic and grotesque rock formation. The engine tugs and snorts, pulls and puffs up the lofty grade running alongside the sparkling mountain brook, where the frisky trout churns the transparent water in its effort to escape the noisy, approaching train. Onward, upward and forward, like the lark, surprised by the first rays of the morning sun, around sharp curves, over lofty bridges and past fascinating spots! In this remarkable pass the road takes its course between perpendicular walls of solid rock which arise stupendous in height, seeming to arch above, their peaks forming rods against the pale blue sky. One feels engulfed in the very heart of the earth, the shrill shreak of the locomotive humbly pleading for liberation! Smoothly and rapidly the ascent, then cautiously and slowly, the little train twists and winds about the great pillows of stone, the engine and coaches playing hide and seek with one another. Beyond and ahead we see precipitous walls of solid rock thousands of feet high in every conceivable shape, size and color, and wonder how the train can further proceed, but low! she has found a way by gracefully gliding around the famous loop and bounding away, snorting in triumph up the mountain side!
At many places the canon is so narrow, the massive walls of broken rock, ages ago heaved from the bowels of the earth, seem overlapping, overtowering and melting one into the other! A hand stretched from the window can often pluck the daisies, columbines and posies which grow in profusion along the rough and rugged walls, oderous with masses of beautiful wild flowers.
Finally we reach the summit and behold; on the left, cloud-capped Nipple mountain, towering toward heaven, and on the right gance down an impending precipice, and we realize we are suspended between earth and the stars, with three distinct tracks in the canon below, over which we have just passed. Then rapidly on into the Cripple Creek District, thus ending one of the most delightfully interesting trips on the American continent.
Trains leave Florence at 6:45 a. m. and 2:35 p. m., returning depart from Cripple Creek at 10:00 a. m. and 7:30 p.m. requiring two hours and a half for the trip. Either going to or returning from Cripple Creek one way should be made over the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad, as it surely will be a treat the recollection of which will linger in your memory to the end of your days, for the Western Hemisphere has been ransacked for its superior in scenic splendor and been found wanting.