And then legalized gambling came to both towns, turning both into tourist attractions for entirely new reasons.
Casinos now occupy many of Cripple Creek's historic buildings, bringing revenue and economic vitality back to this area of Colorado located about 10 miles southwest of Pikes Peak, as a bird flies.
|Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad|
For a reasonably priced fare you can take a 4-mile, 45-minute train ride behind a coal-burning steam locomotive, taking you past abandoned mines.
You can also go 1,000 feet underground on a tour of the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine. It gets cold underground, so the mine tour supplies a jacket if you need one.
Cripple Creek's gold boom began in the spring of 1891 when Bob Womack realized the color on the ground at Womack Ranch was gold. Womack took a supply of gold to Colorado City (now Colorado Springs) where he had a fine time going on a binge, spending his gold. Womack then made the mistake of selling his claim for $500. That claim eventually produced more than $350 million in gold. Womack died broke on August 10, 1909.
You can Roadtrip yourself to Cripple Creek by driving from Colorado Springs on US 24 and State Route 67. If you are adventurous and your vehicle can handle it, you can take Gold Camp to Cripple Creek. The Phantom Canyon Road heads south from Cripple Creek to US 50, 7 miles east of Canon City. Only experienced mountain drivers should attempt the Gold Camp and Phantom Canyon routes.
The map below shows Cripple Creek's location in relationship to Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak...