Images from Cripple Creek Colorado
Posted by Cindy A Stephens
One of the first things that struck me about Cripple Creek was its unmistakable historic heritage interwoven with contemporary culture. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains at a heady 9,494 feet elevation, this picture-perfect town of roughly 1,100 people juxtaposes its historic gold mining traditions with gaming.
I was absolutely charmed with this beautiful historic town. I ambled slowly (due in part to the elevation) along its main street and soaked up what it had to offer. From the perspective of American main streets it was a visual feast. Now that I’ve returned home, some of the images that remain with me in my mind’s eye still conjure up what it felt like to be there.
Copyright 2013 Cindy A Stephens
Gaming was introduced to Cripple Creek in 1991 and is now a major industry. Slot machines are tucked-away in 100 year-old buildings. The feel of the town is not one of the over-the-top neon frenzy of Las Vegas with its always-on strip and gigantic casinos. Overall, the feeling is casual and relaxed. Even in May the outdoor heat lanterns provided welcome warmth for smokers and me in front of these establishments. I caused some curiosity by casino security with my digital SLR, however, no undue alarm was raised.
Cripple Creek Jail Museum
At one end of the main street is the Cripple Creek Jail Museum, which I highly recommend visiting if you are in the area. This small jailhouse operated from 1900 to 1992, housing up to 100 inmates at one time in 14 cells (yep, 6 to a cell). The town’s gold mining era brought with it prostitution and offenders from the Wild West. According to its website, jail-house occupants even included Robert Curry (aka Bob Lee), a member of the “Wild Bunch” gang.
After paying a small entrance fee visitors get to walk into the actual jail cells. What I found fascinating were the drawings on cell walls as well as clippings from the Cripple Creek journal that told the stories of prior inmates. Many of the Victorian era offenses seem pale in comparison to today’s standards. Truant children and Victorian women who didn’t keep up with housekeeping duties were behind bars along with prostitutes and outlaws.
We were the first two people who had been into the jail museum on this day so the proprietor was happy to explain a bit about the museum folklore and history. Apparently, some believe that the museum is haunted. Ghost-buster teams have visited the museum using paranormal equipment. For me, visiting the museum and walking in history’s footsteps added to the allure of this charming, historic town.
Copyright 2013 Cindy A Stephens
Sometimes it is the people I meet on my travels to American main streets that add flavor to a town’s visual feast. Lou is a case in point. We couldn’t pass up an opportunity to have homemade fudge and so we headed into the Cripple Creek Candy Store. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyone around. After a while a gentleman came into the store and asked if we’d been helped. When we replied that we hadn’t he hollered into the back room “Lou, you have customers out front!”
When he finally appeared from the backroom Lou was chatty and friendly. I enjoy the pace of these smaller towns -- the unhurried, friendly ease that people have with visitors. It’s a welcome change to slow down at times.
It turns out that Lou’s wife makes the fudge herself. It’s wonderful fudge – too good not to cart home on the plane to finish every single piece. The few minutes in Lou’s shop remains a wonderful memory.
In all, Cripple Creek’s legacy of gold mining, mountaineers and the Wild West continues with the town’s spirit of modern entrepreneurship and the adventurers who choose to live at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level in the shadows of Pike’s Peak.
I am a marketing professional and a fine art photographer. With more than 20 years of experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, I now teach creative professionals how to create their artistic presence in the changing art world.
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