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The City of Cripple Creek is a located in Teller County, Colorado. A  former gold mining camp, Cripple Creek is located 44 miles southwest of Colorado Springs near the base of Pikes Peak. The Cripple Creek Historic District received National Historic Landmark status in 1961. The population was 1,018 at the 2010 census.


At an elevation of 9,494 feet and just below timberline, for many years the high valley surrounding Cripple Creek was considered no more important than a cattle pasture. Many prospectors avoided the area after the misnamed Mount Pisgah hoax, a mini gold rush caused by salting (adding gold to worthless rock).


On October 20, 1890,"Bob" Womack discovered a rich ore and the last great Colorado gold rush was on. Thousands of prospectors flocked to the region, and before long W. S. Stratton located the famous Independence Mine, one of the largest gold strikes in history. In three years, the population increased from 500 to 10,000. Though $500,000,000 worth of gold ore was dug from Cripple Creek, Womack died, penniless, on August 10, 1909.
By 1900 Cripple Creek and its sister city, Victor, were substantial communities.


During the 1890s, many of the miners in the Cripple Creek area joined a miners' union, the Western Federation of Miners (WFM). A significant strike took place in 1894, marking one of the few times in history that a sitting governor called out the national guard to protect miners from forces under the control of the mine owners. By 1903 the allegiance of the state government had shifted and Governor James Peabody sent the Colorado National Guard into Cripple Creek with the goal of destroying union power in the gold camps. The WFM strike of 1903 and the governor's response precipitated the Colorado Labor Wars, a struggle that took many lives.


Through 2005, the Cripple Creek district produced about 23.5 million troy ounces of gold. The old underground mines are exhausted, but open pit mining has operated since 1994 east of Cripple Creek, near its sister city of Victor, Colorado.


With many empty storefronts and picturesque homes, Cripple Creek once drew interest as a ghost town. At one point the population dropped to a few hundred, although Cripple Creek was never entirely deserted. In the 1940s the Mackin family bought, renovated and opened the Imperial Hotel and put Cripple Creek on the map with a major tourist attraction - the Imperial Players Melodrama.


Colorado voters allowed Cripple Creek to establish legalized gambling in 1991. Casinos now occupy many historic buildings. Casino gambling has been successful in bringing revenue and vitality back into the area. It also provides funding for the State Historical Fund, administered by the Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation; grants from this agency assist with historic preservation in many Colorado communities, including nearby Victor.


The Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, a narrow gauge train ride from Cripple Creek passes several small ghost towns, goldmines, and glory holes. The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine provides tours into a real gold mine led by a real gold miner.


In 2006 Cripple Creek broke ground on the new Cripple Creek Heritage Center. Constructed at a cost over $2.5 million, the building is over 11,000 square feet of educational displays.


Cripple Creek is also home to the Butte Theater, a theatre first managed by the Mackin family (previous owners of the Imperial Hotel and producers of a long-running, much-loved melodrama theatre company). The Butte is currently the home of the Thin Air Theatre Company that produces professional and community shows.


Cripple Creek features many events throughout the year like the Cripple Creek Ice Festival, Donkey Derby Days, the 4th of July Celebration, and a Gold Camp Christmas.


Geography


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.1 square miles.

The gold-bearing area of the Cripple Creek District was the core of an ancient volcano of 6 square miles called the Thirtynine Mile volcanic area. Free gold was found near the surface but underground unoxidized tellurides and sulfides were found. The rush to find Cripple Creek gold began in 1890 but is still alive and well today as the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company operates one of the largest surface gold mines in the U.S. You can tour this gold mine during the summer, starting at the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum.

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