After leaving Loveland, we headed back to Colorado Springs and on a picture perfect late September morning, we headed off to Cripple Creek. It was a lovely drive as we followed highway 24 through Manitou Springs, up through Ute Pass and the town of Woodland Park before turning onto highway 67.
As we drove through Elk Valley and higher into the mountains we were surrounded by forests of beautiful, yellow, copper, gold and green aspens. There’s nothing quite like the soft rustle of aspen leaves in the breeze.
Our first stop as we came into Cripple Creek was the Heritage Centre. The lady at the desk made us laugh as she immediately said to everyone who walked in “Ladies to the right, Gentlemen to the left!” That must be the first thing everyone asks when they walk in.
The Heritage Centre is extremely well done, providing lots of information about the history of the area, the town, the mines, the mountains, not to mention very important things like coffee shops and restaurants!
Right across the road from the Heritage Centre is the Molly Kathleen Mine, very picturesque today, but probably not so pretty if you had to spend 8 hours, or more, a day working in its deep, dark, dusty shafts by the light of a single candle.
Cripple Creek sits at an elevation of 9,194 ft, and was once one of the biggest gold mining camps in the world, at its peak it was home to over 10,000 people. The whole town was entirely built of wood and burned down twice, once, according to legend, when a quarrelling couple knocked over an oil lamp. After the second fire the town fathers decreed that all the downtown buildings had to be built of brick.
It’s an easy walk town to walk around, and the detail and design on some of the buildings is lovely.
Quite a few casinos line the main street, but there were also a few empty shops as well. We weren’t sure whether the shops were empty or just closed for the season.
I loved this old sign on one of the walls.
We took the short trip on the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad,
the train took us past old mine shafts and abandoned log cabins before turning around and heading back into town.
The driver gave us lots of interesting information about the town and mines as we chugged along, unfortunately, since then I’ve forgotten most of it. Of course, if I actually updated the blog a bit more often………………..
Leaving town, we found our way through the town centre road works and continued on highway 67. Driving past the huge working Cripple Creek and Victor goldmine, we read about the amount of gold it produced, I’m sure I remember something about a billion dollars.
This old mine site was at the side of the road as we drove through small town of Victor
and continued through the mountains. I think we stayed on the highway 67 loop, but I was busy looking at the gorgeous autumn colours, so I could be wrong, but as we got where we wanted to be, it didn’t really matter.
Another beautiful area to add to our ever expanding ‘to re-visit’ list, I thought by now our list would be getting smaller not bigger!
Have fun, we are!