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Cripple Creek Main St.Cripple Creek is an old gold mining town dating from the 1890's. It is a short drive from Colorado Springs. The primary draw now is the gold you can win or lose in the towns many casinos. However, don't expect flashy Las Vegas style casinos. The casino/hotels in Cripple Creek are in the old historic buildings. And unlike Las Vegas, the maximum bet is $5!! There are still lots of penny and nickle slots and some you even have to pull. We met Barbara's sister Colleen and her husband Mark here in July, 2005.



Gold Mine DemoIn addition to gambling, the biggest attraction is a tour of the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine.Down the mine shaft This mine produced over 5 million dollars in gold between 1891 and 1961 when gold prices ranged from $20-35. There is still more than 80% of the gold reserves left untaped but production costs made it infeasible to mine. The tour is excellent and at $15/person should not be missed. You start by donning miner's helmets and jackets and then descend 1000 ft down the mine shaft in the actual mine elevator. If you are claustrophobic, you might not enjoy this part as the elevator ride is dark and tight! The tours are guided by actual miners that share old family mining stories as they operate displays of old mining equipment. You even ride aboard an air-powered mining train and witness an 1890's steam hoist in full operation. It's interesting to learn what a gold vein looks like and at the end of the tour everyone is given a piece of ore specimen containing real gold.

Cripple Creek RailroadAnother attraction is a ride on the Narrow Gauge Railroad through mining areas of the past. Open and closed passenger cars are pulled by a coal fired steam locomotive on the four mile, 45 minute narrated trip that passes by abandoned mines. We didn't take the train tour because it was pouring rain that day but it did look like fun.

We did however take in the melodrama and musical review that is presented each summer by the Cripple Creek Players at the Butte Opera House in town. This is a very professional and talented theater group. The melodrama in 2005 was called The Star Crossing which was very good. But the best part came after the play. In what is called an Olio, the performers come out and entertain (sing, dance, etc) to show off their other talents. Excellent and not to be missed.

View of Mine from OverlookWe also drove over to the nearby town of Victor, another historic gold mining town. By 1900, the town boasted a population of over 12,000.(Today, there are 445 residents!) More than 500 gold mines operated in the district. Over 300 of the town's historic buildings still stand, including the city hall where Jack Dempsey trained and the newspaper building where Lowell Thomas worked (he grew up in Victor). The largest gold mine in the state is once again being mined by the Crippple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company. Working gold mineThere is a short drive up to the American Eagles Scenic Overlook where you can view the huge current mining operation as well as displays of mining equipment from the old American Eagles mine.American Eagles Mine

You get the best feeling for the old mines (as well as some exercise), by walking the 2 mile Vindicator Valley loop trail. It winds through remnants of multiple 1890 gold mines with interpretive signs along the way. Just be aware, Victor, and this trail, is over 9500 ft above sea level and the trail winds up and down the hillsides. But the views are worth the effort.Vindicator Valley Trail


To view more photos from this area click here: Cripple Creek and Victor Photo Gallery








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