Friday, July 27, 2012

Wanderlust, Money and Mining

Wanderlust, money, and mining....the three went together in the time of mining like a hand and glove.

We all suffer from the terminal American illness. Our forefathers passed it down to us. The pilgrims crossed over in hopes of religious freedom, the Native Americans crossed the Bering Strait filtering out in all directions from the North Pole to the tip of South America, people from all parts of the world have stepped onto our soil in search of a better life.

The miners were no different. From the first cry of "THAR'S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS" the rush was on. And what a rush it was.

While researching the mining world for my stories, I settled upon the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado as my launching pad; however, the research led me to a place on 15 miles from our home in Teller County, Colorado. Cripple Creek and the Cripple Creek and Victor Mining Company.

Today there are reminders everywhere around Cripple Creek and Victor of abandoned mine digs, now just big holes in the ground scarring the landscape. But in 1894 a huge miner's strike took place that got so out of hand that 3000 men were deputized and awaited their notification to move over in Divide, Colorado. (See picture below.) The dispute was over a pay dispute and grew to the point that the miners fought back with dynamite and weapons, destroying property, injuring people and the Governor of Colorado instituting martial law, which, is the only time in US history martial law was invoked over a strike.

So great was the strike that every mine in Colorado honored it and ceased operations. The strike lasted five months. The was chaos.

In 1896 two fires, just days apart, took down much of the city. What was once a thriving, mining town of 35000, once considered as the location for the State Capital, is now a town, dependent upon casinos and the Cripple Creek and Victor Mine.

It is our county seat in Teller County. The history exudes from its very fibers. Sitting at an altitude of 9494 feet above sea level, it isn't a place for the faint of heart, but it is a place for me.

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