Adventure · Uncategorized

THERE’S GOLD ‘N DEM DER HILLS

It all started with Bob Womack, panning in the mountain creeks 18 miles (as the crow flies) west of Colorado Springs. In 1890, he hit pay dirt and the race for gold was on. In no time, the unnamed cattle field of fifteen was a town of 50,000 people.
It was not known as Cripple Creek in the beginning. It was just a cattle camp for the Welty family who had moved up from Colorado Springs because it was getting to populated due to General William Palmer and his railroad. One day while building a shack over the spring that fed the creek, a rifle accidentally discharged, scaring a calf. The critter wanting out of there right now, tried to jump the creek but banged up his leg real bad doing it. Papa Welty said, “well boys, this is some sort of cripple creek” and a town name was born.
Soon the railroads came and the town was filled with a variety of people. Men in city clothes might be mine owners, brokers or politicians. Mule skinner, miners, gamblers in fancy shoes and others rubbed shoulders on busy Bennett Avenue. Ladies in Paris gowns might be of the “Upper Tens” (the rich folk) or the “sporting women”. They lived on Myers Avenue, 433 yards of dance halls, parlor houses and pawnshops.
Womack’s mine, the El Paso Lode and the Independence mine, owned by Winfield Scott Stratton yielded millions of dollars. Stratton sold his holdings for more than ten million and went on to buy massive amounts of land in the Colorado Springs area, much of which carries his name. Womack sold his mine as well but died broke. His name lives on in present day. Cripple Creek which for years was a Summer tourist destination. In 1994, the State legislature allowed low stakes gambling to be legal and the small shops that catered to tourist needs and wants became large houses of “try your luck at the one armed bandits and card tables”. Now everything is electronic. You do not need to pull the handle anymore. Just put your money in the slot and hit the button. Bob Womack’s Casino is there along with the Midnight Rose, the Brass Ass (which used to be a store selling brass articles), Bronco Billy’s, the Double Eagle and many more.
Oh yes, they still dig for gold but not like 100 years ago. At today’s price per ounce, more than eleven billion dollars came out of the Colorado Rocky Mountains around Cripple Creek during the mining period.

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