A favorite scenic road during the fall season is the drive to Cripple Creek on State Highway 67. The shimmering gold colors of the changing aspen leaves is a scene that one does not grow weary of, with the colors reaching up to the side of road.
As you drive into Cripple Creek on Highway 67, you can see its geologic past. Cripple Creek lies in a vast caldera of an ancient volcano. In the distance, cinder cones that were part of the ancient volcano’s venting system can be easily seen.
The towns of Cripple Creek and Victor were once thriving gold mining towns in the 1890s and early 1900s. While a few made their fortunes in the last, gold rush in Colorado, many others that had visions of becoming rich toiled in the hard rock mines. In its heyday, Cripple Creek became the second most populated city or town in the state. In the late 1890s, a fire swept through Cripple Creek, destroying every wooden structure in the town. Only the homes on the outlying edges of the town remained. In the aftermath of the great fire, town leaders decreed every building in the town proper would be made of brick.
When gold mining slowed considerably in the 1920s, Cripple Creek and Victor quickly became empty reminders of their former past. The population of Cripple Creek would drop to a few hundred by the 1970s, and much fewer in Victor. It was not uncommon to see empty homes with lace curtains still hanging in the windows. The skeletons of its mining past dot the landscape around Cripple Creek and Victor with the decaying wooden superstructures above abandoned mines.
In 1990, Colorado voters approved legalized gambling in the towns of Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, and Central City as a means to preserve their historic pasts. While the limited stakes gaming has helped with economic stablization, many of the promises made to help with the historic preservation have not been realized. While Cripple Creek has a number of casinos, the town of Victor opted not to participate in the gaming initiative. More recently, Victor has become home to an automated data relay center in the Verizon network.
About the photos –
The photos were taken using the Canon FtB 35 mm SLR camera with Kodacolor film (ASA 200). The third photo in this post was taken with a Polaroid Square Shooter.