Today is a great day to remember the man Zebulon Montgomery Pike.
On a Road Trip Adventure across the USA, our family:
After spending a week in Colorado Springs and extending our stay by a day and a night, it was time for our family and Fannie to leave Colorado, hit the road again, and continue our Road Trip adventure across the USA.
Sightseeing in Cripple Creek, CO was a result of us extending our stay in Colorado Springs. There was so much more we wanted to do in this area.
When our family of four made our list of must-see sites in the Pikes Peak Region,
Belle and I wanted to look at rocks, discover gold, and learn about mining.
I found the Western Museum of Mining and Industry in Colorado Springs,
but a museum wasn’t the sightseeing adventure Belle and I were seeking in order
to look at rocks, discover gold, and learn about mining. Besides, Gary and Buddy were not interested in visiting a museum on mining.
I continued my research and found a sightseeing adventure compromise for our entire family. I found a site with the geological wonder of gold, the natural beauty of mountains, and a man-made attraction. I found this sightseeing adventure in Cripple Creek.
The city of Cripple Creek is located 46 miles away from Colorado Springs.
Our family didn’t mind the drive and each of us enjoyed the views.
On the way to the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, I introduced my family to the history behind Cripple Creek.
- Cripple Creek was originally an area of pastureland for cattle, which was known as Poverty Gulch.
- Then, in 1891, gold was discovered in Poverty Gulch and thousands of fortune-seekers made their way to these pasturelands.
- The discovery of gold and the flock of thousands of fortune-seekers transformed Poverty Gulch into one of the world’s richest gold camps.
- The gold rush in Cripple Creek was the last great gold rush in Colorado.
- Gold mining is still big business in Cripple Creek. The Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company located near the town of Victor in the Cripple Creek mining district operates 24 hours a day 365 days a year and employs 497 workers.
Welcome to Cripple Creek
The city of Cripple Creek sits at an elevation of 9,494 feet.
Cripple Creek gained the status as a National Historic Landmark in 1961.
In 1991, gambling was legalized in this city
and many historic buildings now house casinos.
Cripple Creek did not become a ghost town like many mining towns in the late 1800s.
Instead Cripple Creek became a tourist and gambling town.
Our sightseeing adventures in Cripple Creek did not include a stop in the casinos
but included a drive through the Historic District,
a visit to the Cripple Creek Heritage Center,
and a tour of the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine.
Welcome to The Cripple Creek Heritage Center
This heritage center is more than a place to pick up maps and brochures.
One could easily spend a couple of hours here.
Not only did this heritage center offer state-of-the-art interpretive exhibits
but also provided spectacular views of the Sangre de Christo Mountains.
In the Cripple Creek Heritage Center,
Our family enjoyed learning about the dinosaurs which once roamed this region;
Native Americans who lived here first and early explorers who ‘discovered’ Colorado;
and the flora and fauna native to this area.
We also learned about the ranges that make up the Rocky Mountains
and how these ranges compare to other mountain ranges around the world.
Belle and I studied the geology of the region, learned about the discovery of gold,
uncovered the business of mining, and discovered the life of miners.
Our family of four explored and learned at the Cripple Creek Heritage Center for Free
in a building with incredible views.
Welcome to The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine
The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine is one of the best preserved mines in Colorado.
Since the Mollie Kathleen just opened up for the season,
not all of the exhibits were open,
like the gold mining camp and the Hard Rock Dinner.
I found it ironic and amusing that Belle and I were the ones
who wanted to look at rocks, find gold, and learn about mining,
and this mine is unique because it was started, owned, and operated by a woman, Mollie Kathleen Gorter who struck gold in 1891.
Before our subterranean tour of a gold mine, we donned hard hats.
We stepped inside
and squeezed into a skip.
We squeezed inside because we had to make room for our tour guide.
We descended into this country’s only vertical gold mine shaft.
We arrived 1,000 feet underground (or 100 stories into the earth).
we learned the history of the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine.
Mining began in 1891 with a brief hiatus during WW II and continued until 1961.
From 1891 to 1961, this hard rock mine produced $5 million in gold.
The Mollie Kathleen became a tourist attraction in 1961.
Our guide the gold miner told us about the life of a hard rock miner.
He explained the evolution of mining techniques used to extract gold from a mine.
He showed us how to drill and how to set explosives.
We saw and heard air-powered mining equipment.
After the lessons, our guide the gold miner put some of us to work
and let others of us play.
(I wasn’t the only one who got to play.)
We searched for gold veins still present today.
We rode in an air-powered mine train and traveled into a tunnel
in a gold mine 1,000 feet underground.
Throughout the tour, we listened intently to our guide.
At the end of the tour,
we picked out a free gold ore sample from the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine.
(with the price of admission, I don’t think it was free)
Then we stepped inside and squeezed into the skip one last time.
In Cripple Creek,
we explored the “World’s Greatest Gold Camp”
and experienced “Colorado’s most memorable adventure”.
For our family of four,
this sightseeing adventure lived up to Cripple Creek’s motto:
“Real Fun Real Colorado”.
Manitou Springs sightseeing included a history lesson at the Cliffs and a scavenger hunt.
A scavenger hunt to find and taste the waters from the Springs of Manitou. The Manitou Springs was a must-see site for me and I suspected Belle and Buddy might enjoy a Scavenger Hunt. However, I had no idea how much our entire family would enjoy this sightseeing adventure.
Background information on the Springs of Manitou and Manitou Spring:.
- Native Americans considered this area and these natural springs sacred. The bubbling waters were believed to be the breath of the Great Spirit. The medicinal qualities of the mineral waters were considered a gift from the Great Spirit.
- In 1871 the town of Manitou was founded. The town flourished due to its scenic location and its famed mineral waters. Manitou became a resort destination.
- In the 1890s, seven grand hotels were built to accommodate the tourists and health seekers. Three of these hotels still stand today.
- The resort town of Manitou prospered until the rise of the pharmaceutical industry in the 1930s.
- Today, Manitou Springs is one of Colorado’s premier National Historic Districts.
Our first stop in Manitou Springs
was the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau
where we picked up a free mineral springs brochure,
a detailed content chart of the spring waters (which looked like a chemistry lab report),
and 4 sampling cups.
For the Scavenger Hunt, we took a self-guided driving/walking tour
through the charming Victorian village of Manitou Springs.
At each spring, we tasted the mineral waters. We were surprised to find that each spring had a unique taste.
From the brochure, not only did we learn that the difference in taste is due to the differences in mineral content,
but we also read about the discovery or drilling of each spring
and the name of the designer and how each font was constructed.
While searching for the next spring, we explored a few specialty shops and art galleries in Manito Springs.
7 Minute Spring
When this spring was drilled in 1909, it produced a “geysering event” every 7 minutes.
This spring and gazebo are the crowing jewels of the Mineral Springs Foundation,
which began a restoration project of the springs in the 1980s.
Since we were on s Scavenger Hunt in Manitou Springs on St. Patrick’s Day,
a Photo-Op at the Leprechaun Shoppe was a must stop that day.
With 11 springs to find and 11 different mineral waters to taste,
our family knew we wouldn’t remember which springs we liked or disliked by the end of our Scavenger Hunt,
so Belle came up with a system for rating and recording our opinion of each spring.
Even though the mineral waters from this spring are said to be naturally sweet,
the Cheyenne Spring received a thumbs-down rating from our entire family.
The Spa Building
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Spa Building was the social spot for tourist and health-seekers.
Today, this building houses the Shops at the Spa.
We found the Soda Spring in the Shops at the Spa Building.
Buddy was not happy
when he discovered that he couldn’t taste the mineral waters from this spring.
In the Shops at the Spa building,
Gary wanted to add wine tasting to our tasting of mineral waters.
Wheeler Spring is named in honor of Jerome B. Wheeler who built the Manitou Mineral Water Company bottling plant.
This bottling plant made the mineral waters of Manitou Springs famous nationally.
Reportedly, this spring has the highest mineral content of copper.
With an ok rating from our family, apparently, we don’t mind the taste of copper.
The Cliff House
The Cliff House is one of the three remaining grand hotels which were built in the 1890s.
We admired the simplified Queen-Anne style of this hotel with its tower, gables, and open porches.
We learned about The Cliff House by reading the wayside exhibit outside
and by stepping inside the hotel where we read primary accounts and saw historic photographs
of this interesting hotel in Manitou Springs.
On our Scavenger Hunt for the Springs of Manitou, the Navajo Spring was the most difficult to find.
We found it underneath a pavilion on an exterior wall for Patsy’s Popcorn and Candy Store.
This natural spring was the favorite of Native Americans, fur trappers, explorers and settlers.
This was the spring which led to the establishment of Manitou as a resort town.
Window shopping at The American Toy Store
The Barker House
The Barker House is another one of three remaining grand hotels which were built in Manitou in the 1890s.
With 5 more springs to find, we didn’t stop to see inside the Barker House.
The mineral waters from Shoshone Spring contain the greatest amount of deep-seated water
from the karst aquifer system and the highest mineral content of all downtown springs.
We could not identify the bicarbonate, calcium, chloride, lithium, manganese, sulfur or zinc by taste,
but we knew we didn’t like the taste of the mineral waters from Shoshone Spring.
Manitou Springs Town Clock
The Town Clock in Manitou Springs was donated by Jerome B. Wheeler
(remember the Wheeler Spring).
Standing on top of the Clock Tower is the Greek goddess Hebe who was the keeper of the elixir of eternal youth
and cupbearer to the gods on Mount Olympus. The statue of Hebe symbolizes the healing properties
of the mineral waters in Manitou Springs.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Stratton Spring is named in honor of Winfield Scott Stratton who was a carpenter, contractor and prospector.
Stratton was the first millionaire from the Cripple Creek Gold Strikes.
When Stratton died, he bequeathed his entire fortune to the care of the county’s needy children and the elderly.
Twin Springs was originally two springs from different depths which now have been combined into one font.
The sweet tasting mineral waters from this spring are a favorite of the locals and us.
The locals use these spring waters to make sparkling lemonade.
Art Galleries and Specialty Shops
We found all the fountains in the Historic District of Manitou Springs.
We had 2 remaining springs to find to complete our Scavenger Hunt.
Since the remaining 2 springs were located in opposite directions of one another,
we decided not to drive and find Iron Springs, but to find the other spring, which was located on our drive out of town.
Ute Chief Spring
This spring is privately owned and is one of the more popular springs
due to its pleasing taste and its convenient location.
On the drive home,
our family recalled our sightseeing adventures that day
from the Cliff Dwellings to the charming Victorian village of Manito Springs
to the Scavenger Hunt for the springs of Manitou.
When we returned to our temporary home in Colorado Springs,
we made sparking Kool-Aid from the mineral waters we bottled from our favorite spring- Twin Springs.
The Manitou Springs was a must-see site for me and I suspected Belle and Buddy might enjoy a Scavenger Hunt,
but I had no idea how much our entire family would enjoy this sightseeing adventure.
(Even if most of disliked the sparkling cherry Kool-aid made from the mineral waters of Manitou Springs,
perhaps sparking lemonade would have been better.)