Descend into a historic gold mine. Chug through the wilderness in a steam locomotive. Step into a jail that has housed many an outlaw.
Cripple Creek’s historic attractions will turn back the clock in the coolest ways possible.
Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad
In 1976, the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad started taking passengers on a journey back into gold rush history and into the scenic heart of the Rocky Mountains. With its lovingly restored steam locomotives and historic 1894 station house, the railroad is one of the Gold Camp’s favorite family attractions. Visitors will ride on a winding four-mile trip through the historic gold mining district. Trains leave the depot daily from mid-May through mid-October, taking visitors on a trip that includes stops at special points of interest and photo opportunities. The track heads south from Cripple Creek, crosses a reconstructed trestle and stops at a deserted mining town before returning.
Cripple Creek District Museum
Since 1953, the Cripple Creek District Museum has worked to preserve the history of Cripple Creek. Visitors can browse through a number of historic buildings, including the 1893 Colorado Trading & Transfer Building, the 1895 Midland Terminal Railroad Depot and a turn-of-the-century Assay Office. A self-guided tour of the museum includes exhibits of railroad history, mining memorabilia, maps, paintings, glass and china, children’s items, furnishings, a photograph gallery, Indian artifacts, mineral displays, two turn-of-the-century cabins and two Victorian apartments. One cabin belonged to French Blanche Le Coq and has been furnished to be historically accurate. The second cabin has been furnished to represent the living space of a miner during the gold rush days.
Cripple Creek Heritage and Information Center
In the late 1800s, thousands of fortune-seekers made their way to Pikes Peak for the country’s last great gold rush. Now, more than a century later, you can make your own discoveries at Cripple Creek’s newest travel and informational resource center: the Cripple Creek Heritage Center. Overlooking the town of Cripple Creek, the facility is a member of the Pikes Peak Country Attractions Association and your complete source for Cripple Creek information. Stop here before entering the town for a birds-eye view of all there is to see and do in the heart of history.
Cripple Creek Information Center
The Information Center is located inside an authentic old train car. The train car was built in 1887 as a first-class passenger car, complete with a gentlemen’s smoking area (which is now the office). There were seats throughout the entire car, gas-lit lights and a wood stove in the smoking area. Eventually, the car was changed over to electricity. It was a Midland Terminal train car and traveled up Highway 67 from Colorado Springs into Cripple Creek. In the 1920s, the Midland took all of its passenger cars, with the exception of 2, and changed them into combo cars. They cut sliding doors in the sides to allow freight to be loaded onto the cars. There were still seats for passengers, hence the name “combo.” The Midland ran up to 1949. On Feb. 6, 1949, the last run of the Midland took place with celebrities such as Lowell Thomas riding.
Cripple Creek’s Donkey Herd
Our current donkey herd is believed to be made up of several direct descendants of the donkeys that were used to work the mines in the Cripple Creek & Victor mining district in the early years of the gold camp. When miners had to leave the area, often their donkeys were let loose to roam. Today, the donkey herd will roam throughout the gold camp, freely walking through the streets, neighborhoods and hills of the area.
Gold Bar Room Theater
The historic Gold Bar Room Theater is open, and once again entertaining visitors with a wide variety of shows, from historic performances of Wyatt Earp to comedy nights. This family-friendly tradition has been a part of Cripple Creek since 1946, when Wayne and Dorothy Mackin bought the Imperial Hotel and started a 45-year tradition of dinner theater with classic melodrama.
Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine
This historic gold mine tour descends 1,000 feet below ground, where visitors learn about the workings of the 1890s hard rock gold miner. Guided tours allow visitors to explore the overlapping evolution of all four mining phases used to extract gold from the Mollie Kathleen, beginning with a ride on a skip to the lower working levels of the mine. Visitors witness the operation of numerous pieces of air-powered gold mining equipment and ride aboard the last air-powered Tram-Air Locomotive.
The Butte Theater
Since the town’s early days as a small mining camp, theater has always been a part of the rich heritage of Cripple Creek. Theaters and opera houses have come and gone over the years, but one historical venue that began in the heyday of the gold rush still features exciting and original live entertainment to this day: the Butte Theater. The “Butte Concert and Beer Hall” premiered in 1896, when proprietors Halbekann & Hertz featured nightly entertainment, including a Ladies’ Vienna Orchestra. Cripple Creek’s opera house went on to have many lives over its 100+ year history – it was a skating rink, a dance academy and an auto garage, to name a few. It even housed the Cripple Creek Fire Department!