Cripple Creek, CO
We drove up to Cripple Creek today which is tucked away in the Colorado Rockies. The fall colors were in full bloom and we could not have picked a better time to go. The drive was so beautiful and took about 60 minutes from Colorado Springs. We visited the Mollie Kathleen Mine which is a gold mining operation founded by Mollie Kathleen in September 1891. She was the first woman in this area to find “surface gold” which was in a piece of ore she picked up while out on a walk. Because miners were very superstitious and believed a woman inside a mine was bad luck, Mollie turned the operation over to her son. The mine continued to produce gold up until 1961.
The mine was originally built to harvest gold out of ore, but later found other precious minerals, some of which are now in the Smithsonian. The white stuff covering the walls in the upper corner picture is epsom salt, a naturally occurring formation as a result of water runoff over the minerals. In order to access the mine we tightly squeezed into the original mine shaft elevators where we descended 1,000 feet. Once we were in the mining shafts, we had an opportunity to view original mining equipment from the early days to the present. I can tell you, mining was a tough business and they had kids as young as 10 years old working, no such thing as OSHA back in the early days!
We also had a chance to ride in an air powered train which was originally pulled by donkeys (1,000 feet under ground, so they left them down there) until President Roosevelt visited the mine and deemed this treatment to be cruel (hello?!?!) and demanded they stop. The mining company set the donkeys free in the town and descendants of the original mine donkeys still roam the streets today.
We topped the day off with a prime rib dinner at one of the many casinos in town. At $5.99, we were not expecting much, but it was an excellent meal and you could add a lobster tail for an additional $10 – yes please!