City of Cripple
Creek is a located in
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
By 1900 Cripple Creek and its sister city,
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.
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.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area
of 1.1 square miles.
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
gold mine during the summer, starting at the Victor Lowell Thomas