House-peeping in Cripple Creek, Colorado

Let’s all go to Cripple Creek!

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

That is the tag-line for the most politically incorrectly named town in all of the Colorado.

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

Cripple Creek is an old Victorian era gold mining town located about an hour from I live in central Colorado. It has a dazzling array of Victorian homes from the 1880s through the 1910s, and as you might imagine, I go there often to house peep.

Cripple Creek circa 1900:

Cripple Creek Colorado historic photo

Cripple Creek February 2013:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

Technically, the area is referred to as the “Cripple Creek District” because it is actually a collection of tiny old mining towns from the gold rush era clumped in the same geographic region. Today, only two main town sites remain: Cripple Creek and Victor. Cripple Creek is the larger of the two with a population of just over 1,100.

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

In the early 1990’s Colorado passed a law that allowed gambling in only a handful of locales in the hopes of reviving the historic towns that went bust after the mines closed. Cripple Creek was one of those lucky destinations and over the past 2 decades has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, thanks to all the fancy casinos that now line the main street (Bennett Avenue).

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

I recently read a book about the history of the Cripple Creek district and thought a visit to the town was in order. So on a recent Saturday I snapped a few photos of the sights around town…

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

As you can see, Cripple Creek is Victorian lover’s paradise.

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

One thing that thrills me about peeking in the windows of these old houses is that many of them have antique lace curtains like the bungalow below:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

This little green house (below) was minuscule but it had the prettiest gingerbread and fish scales under the eaves:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

The streets of Cripple Creek are kind of terraced on top of one another since the topography is so steep and varied.

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

The brick houses in Cripple Creek are generally the oldest homes because the town suffered several catastrophic fires in the late 1800’s that burned most of the wood-frame structures to the ground.

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

However, the town was tenaciously rebuilt and many of the homes displayed here date back to the 1890’s and 1910’s.

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

There are also some phenomenally well-preserved historic brick churches in Cripple Creek:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

A fun/morbid story about the church pictured above:

I was told by a local that there are more people buried in the front yard of this little church than anywhere else in North America. How is that possible you ask? Well, apparently there is a long tube that goes down into an old mine shaft or tunnel and it has been filled with vials of deceased people’s ashes for many decades. Reportedly, thousands of people from around the world have requested that their ashes be buried here at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, even though they have never been to Cripple Creek Colorado. True story – *I was told* although I have been unable to independently verify this. I did find that there is indeed a Columbarium at this particular church, however.

~~~

Since there are so many remarkable/creepy houses and buildings in Cripple Creek, I thought I would do a whole week’s worth of posts dedicated to unique historic homes in Cripple Creek.

That’s right – welcome to Cripple Creek Week on House Crazy!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about a very unique Cripple Creek bed & breakfast.

~~~

Cripple Creek District book

ps….. if you are interested in reading more about the history of Cripple Creek, I highly recommend the book The Cripple Creek District  from Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series.

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

  • Deborah Billings says:

    This site always cheers me up-as soon as I see the pink background pop up I smile inside. The topics you blog about and the clear, colorful photos are another treat for the eye. I haven’t been to Cripple Creek since the gambling went in. I saw how gambling ruined another little town, Lead-Deadwood, and I could’nt stand to see it repeated. The Lead-Deadwood area was one of our favorite X-country skiing spots and going in to the old saloons afterward for hot drinks was part of the fun. The last time we went up there everything seemed so commercial and plastic. Have you thought of going to Leadville? I used to enjoy being a bicycle lookee-loo going up and down the dirt streets wondering about the histories of the little cottages and buildings from the 1800’s. Love your work! Deb

    • housecrazy says:

      oh thank you Deb! Leadville is next on my list of Colorado towns to “house-peep” – but I’ll probably wait until it warms up a bit since it is so dang cold up there!

  • Nancy says:

    Great site you’ve got here… these are all so cute – I can’t pick which one I like best! I will have to make a point to go to Cripple Creek if I am ever in Colorado! Take care!!

  • Stu says:

    Such an intriguing little town with tons of great old houses. Thanks for sharing

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