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.
addition to gambling, the biggest attraction is a tour of the Mollie
Kathleen Gold Mine.
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
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.
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. There
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.
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.
To view more photos from this area click here: Cripple
Creek and Victor Photo Gallery
Newsletters Photos Map