Cripple Creek celebrates living history

Aug 8, 2005 1:47 AM


Cripple Creek, Colorado is a great place to visit for its first class attractions, theater and museums, historic mining district and mountainous flora and fauna.

Even though low-stakes casinos have stimulated tourism in recent years, Cripple Creek offers much more than slot machines and blackjack. In a few weeks, is glorious autumn climate will transform stands of aspen trees on the mountainsides turn flaming orange to provide a fall color show that is beyond words.

Winter in Cripple Creek is mild considering its 9,464 feet above sea level elevation. Spring snows paint the landscape picture postcard perfect.

New and historic hotels provide a variety of choices for travelers who want to spend a few days taking in the scenery, visiting the donkeys, experiencing the excitement of the 1890’s gold rush or trying their luck at casino gambling.

To get a feel for the area’s history, check out the Cripple Creek District Museum. Located on Bennett Avenue in the former Midland-Terminal Railroad Depot, the museum complex contains three buildings with six floors of mining memorabilia, maps, paintings, glass and china, children’s items, furnishings, an assay office, a photograph gallery, Indian artifacts, mineral displays and two Victorian apartments.

Recent acquisitions include an authentic wood-burning cookstove from Tom Warner, personal items belonging to world-famous astrologer Linda Goodman, courtesy of Leland Feitz, and the globe from American Legion Post No. 35 that was originally on the former Madam June’s building across from the Teller County Courthouse.

About six miles from Cripple Creek is the gold mining district of Victor. A great way to experience the area’s rich history is a scenic tour on a narrow gauge railroad.

It is a spectacular trip of beautiful colors and fascinating experiences — the old steam engine with its pillaring smoke, sounds of steam and working steel — all the effects familiar to the hardy miners who rode the Midland Terminal roadbed when Cripple Creek District’s population approached over 50,000.

The Cripple Creek and Victor Railroad tour departs from the old Midland Terminal Depot, located at the head of Bennett avenue in Cripple Creek.

The locomotive is a 15-ton iron horse typical of the early day steam engines so important to the winning of the west. The track goes south out of Cripple Creek, past the old Midland Terminal Wye over a reconstructed trestle, past many historic mines and terminates near the deserted mining camp of Anaconda, then returns back to Cripple Creek.

Along the way, guides provide an interesting and educational narration on the rich history only a dynamic gold mining town could produce. There are also stops for special points of interest and impressive photo opportunities.