1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cripple Creek

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CRIPPLE CREEK, a city and the county-seat of Teller county, almost at the geographical centre of Colorado, U.S.A., one of the phenomenal mining camps of the West. Pop. (1900) 10,147 (1408 foreign-born); (1910) 6206. The city is served by three railways—the Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District (a branch of the Colorado & Southern), the Midland Terminal (which connects at Divide, 30 m. distant by rail, with the Colorado Midland), and the Florence & Cripple Creek. Cripple Creek is situated on a mountain slope in a pocket amid the ranges, about 9600 ft. above the sea at the head of the stream after which it is named. The municipal water-supply is drawn from Pike’s Peak, 10 m. distant. The interest of the city is in its extraordinary mines and their history. Cripple Creek’s site was frequently prospected after 1860, and “colours” and gold “float” were always found, but not until February 1891 was the source discovered. Cripple Creek was at that time a cattle range. In 1891 the output of gold in the district was valued at $449, in 1892 at $583,010, and in the next three years at $2,010,367, $2,908,702 and $6,879,137 respectively. From 1891 to 1906 the total production of gold was valued at $168,584,331; in 1905[1] the product of gold was valued at $15,411,724, the total for the whole state being valued at $25,023,973; in 1906 the output for the district was valued at $14,253,245, out of $23,210,629 for the entire state. The development of the camp into a yellow-pine town and then into something more like a substantial city was marvellously rapid. The first railway was completed in 1894. In the same year a great strike—one of the most famous in American industrial history—threatening civil war, temporarily closed the mines; in 1896 fire almost destroyed the city; in 1903–1904 a second strike, lasting more than a year and greater than the first, occurred. The first strike, which was for an eight-hour day and $3.00 wage, was won by the miners. The second, for the recognition outright of the union organization of the miners, secured only a reaffirmation of the former conditions. The ores are almost exclusively gold, tellurides being the most characteristic form, and occur in fissure veins. Outcroppings were very rare, as the veins were covered with loose wash, and this accounted for the late opening of the field. The field covers a district about 8 × 10 m. Some peculiarities of the ores have required the use of new methods in their treatment, and in general the development of mining methods and machinery is of a wonderful character. The whole surrounding country is seamed with miles of tunnels in granite, and the hillsides are dotted everywhere with enormous dumps. The most famous mines have been the “Independence” (1891) and the “Portland” (1892). The latter had in 1904 more than 25 m. of workings above the 1100-ft. level. In 1903 the El Paso drain was completed, to unwater the western half of the field to the 880-ft. level, greatly increasing many mine values and outputs; in 1906 the work of drainage was again taken up, and work on a long bore was begun in May 1907. There are smelters and cyanide extracters in the district, but the bulk of the ore product is shipped to other places for treatment. Among the towns around Cripple Creek in the same mining district is Victor, pop. (1910) 3162, incorporated in 1894, chartered as a city in 1898.

See W. Lindgren and F. L. Ransome, Geology and Gold Deposits of the Cripple Creek District, Colorado, with maps (Washington, 1906), being Professional Paper No. 54 of the United States Geological Survey; and Benjamin McKie Rastall, The Labor History of the Cripple Creek District; A Study in Industrial Evolution (Madison, Wis., 1908), a full account of the strikes of 1894 and of 1903–1904.

  1. The value of gold mined in 1899–1902 was greater, annually, than the product of 1905 or 1906; up to 1905 the greatest annual value was in 1900, $18,073,539.