Cripple Creek District
Last of Colorado's Gold Booms
by Jan MacKell
Every now and again a book comes along that is so good that I just have to read it several times in order to absorb the abundance of information contained within its covers. Cripple Creek District is one of those books.
I purchased the book at the Victor Museum in August after the club tour of the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mine. The tour alone was worth the drive to Victor; it gave one a sense of how vast the supply of gold is in that mine and an appreciation for the efforts involved in processing the gold bearing material.
I have read several books on the history of the Cripple Creek District so I was familiar with names like Bob Womack and Winfield Scott Stratton, and I knew the district was in a caldera, or the top of a volcano, but I was not aware that it encompassed 24 square miles.
The author, Jan MacKell, engages the reader on a tour of the district beginning with Bob Womack's discovery of a piece of "float" in 1878 through the "boom times" of 1892 and beyond. She also describes several of the 25 camps, towns, and cities that were developed in the area and names those who were responsible for the development of those camps and cities. Labor wars, fires, and the development of railroads are detailed in easy to read language.
One interesting story in the book explains that in the town of Cameron a railroad terminal was built in 1901, for the Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railroad (CS&CCDR). It extended to Colorado Springs, passing through ten tunnels on the scenic route. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt rode this line in 1901 and said, "This is the ride that bankrupts the English Language!" This line became known as the Short Line and allegedly is the same railroad found on Monopoly game boards.
I highly recommend this 160 page paperback to anyone who has an interest in Colorado mining history. The views are spectacular.