The mileage of the"GOLD BELT LINE" is short - forty-one miles of track between Canon City or Florence and the Cripple Creek District and fourteen miles on the Golden Circle Railroad, between the mines and cities in the district.
The area contiguous to the road is not great, but the cities reached are among the most important in the State, and the scenery along these fifty-five miles is of surpassing grandeur and beauty.
Even though one allowed his imagination full sway and brought to the subject a mind open to impressions of the sublime and beautiful, only a faint conception could be formed of the marvelous scenery, the giant rocks, the awful chasms and silent gorges in the Canon of Phantoms.
Nothing in Colorado equals it in grandeur. From end to end it contains nothing insignificant or unworthy of notice. Wonderful ! Colossal ! Sublime ! By all odds the most magnificent of Colorado's canons.
The perpendicular walls and beautifully colored rocks are marvels of nature's handiwork. For here the volcanic forces, unrestrained in their mad vagaries, created a scene of the wildest mountain beauty.
And in every small crevice in those towering walls a flower seed has been planted by the wind. The mist has watered it, and now it flaunts its luxuriance of beautiful bloom up there where only the eagles can reach it.
The canon is about eighteen miles in length and so narrow there is scarcely room for the railroad track, and so deep the head reels at the sight of its abyssmal gorges. A small stream traverses its entire length, and is often only a dry gorge and often again a raging, resistless torrent.
As may be easily imagined, the difficulties encountered in building the road through that deep, narrow gorge were tremendous, and only overcome by the best engineering talent. The passenger is treated to a continual round of surprises. The way the train passes through tunnels, upon trestles, runs directly at sheer walls of rock, finds an opening and passes on to further wonderful performances, is almost incredible.
Towering thousands of feet above all are turreted mountain castles, supreme in their grandeur and glorious in their eternity. Winding, twisting, turning through this wonder of canons, past Phantom Curve, the Mysterious Guard, Bear's Den, Eagle's Nest, Rocky Point and through The Narrows, one seems bewildered, lost in a mysterious maze of mountain wilderness, with no outlet, except straight above, for the road through the Canon of Phantoms is wonderfully illusive.
Then over the great loop, where one may throw a stone across three tracks, although the train covers two miles to make the distance, the gold fields of Cripple Creek are finally sighted.
"A SERRATED LIMITLESS WALL OF GLISTENING WHITE WITH SCORES OF TOWERING PEAKS, BLAZING IN THE MORNING SUNLIGHT."
At Alta Vista the first glimpse is obtained of the great gold camp. The view from this point is very beautiful and embraces a great area of valleys and peaks, but the climax is reached later. We wend our way on to Victor, thence around and up the north side of Bull Hill through Goldfield and Independence to the summit on the GOLDEN CIRCLE road.
Passing the town of Altman, the highest incorporated town on the globe, in sight of all of the Cripple Creek District, in sight of almost everything for a hundred miles. From Vista Grande, the pretty station at the summit, the view is matchless. There are the golden hills of Cripple Creek in full view;
The Independence Mine
Last Dollar Mine
All dotted over with bustling towns and freckled with the dumps of mining pits - with all of these we are on a level, but beyond.
There it is - Pike's Peak! - glorious in its grand repose ; and then to the westward, far and far away - eighty miles - the white sky line of the main range, the Sangre de Cristo, lies against the mellow blue of the horizon, a serrated, limitless wall of glistening white, with scores of towering peaks blazing in the morning sunlight.
And below, away and away below, the Valley of the Arkansas, ribboned with its green line of cottonwoods. And beyond this, southward still, the smaller range of the Sierra Mojada (Wet Mountain), and the Cuerna Verde (Green Horn), and the two cones of the Spanish Peaks, matchless in symmetrical grandeur as they stand out hooded in crystalline snow. Ah! such a scene, such a deathless memory of titanic grandeurs!
All of the great mines in the district are reached via THE FLORENCE & CRIPPLE CREEK RAILROAD. Tourists should not fail to make the trip to Vista Grande on one of the many suburban trains.
THE TRAIN SERVICE AND EQUIPMENT OF THE FLORENCE AND CRIPPLE CREEK RAILROAD ARE COMPLETE IN EVERY DETAIL. THE COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE OF PASSENGERS IS THE FIRST CONSIDERATION OF OUR EMPLOYES