A certain amount of time in history offers a unique perspective, I think, maybe 75 years is that perfect distance — where no one remembers well enough to tell you are wrong about your observations, but just enough connection exists linking you to the present, that you could be perceived as being right. I found myself there last week as we toured current activity in mining district.
Back in time 75 years, The Chicago Tribune, Oct. 21, 1941, reported it this way.
"Stream of Gold Flowing Again in Old Cripple Creek Area," headlined.
"The mining industry of the famous old Cripple Creek area that was pouring out 20 million dollars worth of gold a year at the turn of the century, is stepping up its operations aided by a six mile tunnel," the story reported
Type of gold seeker seen frequently in the earlier days.
"The romance of that rough and tumble era when fortune seekers sang the ditty about 'to Cripple Creek' still is only a ghost that haunts the mountains, but a stream of gold is flowing again and will exceed 5 million dollars this year.
Less colorful but more efficient miners were going down 3,000 feet or more below the surface to blast the ore out of the heart of the mountains that rise more than 14,000 feet above sea level.
Tunnel Drains Water."In order that the miners can go even deeper into the earth, a six mile tunnel-named Carlton Tunnel- was blasted through almost solid rock into the mining area to drain off water that seeps into the mines. Carlton tunnel goes into the mountains at 7,000 feet above sea level and was completed this summer in three days less than two years at a cost of about a million dollars," the Tribune explained.
"Gold mining is a depression business," said Max W. Bowen, vice president of the Golden Cycle Corporation, which smelts more than 90 percent of the ore produced in the Cripple Creek area. "The price of gold has remained $35 an ounce for a good many years. When labor and production costs are low, more gold can be mined.
"This year production In the Cripple Creek area will be the largest in the last decade. Value of the ore, however, will not be much larger than last year because of the smaller gold content."
Expect 15 Million Output.
"For every ton of ore-bearing rock brought to the smelter in 1940, an average of 0.29 of an ounce of gold was removed. We expect to smelt around 550,000 tons of ore this year that will have a total value of $5,500,000, about 13 per cent of the ore coming from outside the Cripple Creek area."
Bowen said the federal government took the entire output of the smelter. Once a week an armored car comes to Colorado Springs from Denver to pickup the bar of gold produced that week to haul it to the mint.
Cripple Creek's gold mines, Including those at Victor, are the largest in Colorado. Since 1891, when a wandering cowboy searching for lost cattle discovered gold in the area, the Cripple Creek district has figured prominently in the history of the west.
Who was operating in the district.
"Capitol's Who's Who for Colorado: A Triennial Reference Work 1941-1943," imprinted on the leather cover. Copyright 1941 by the Capitol Publishing Company, tells the tale.
Frank Joseph Busch
Mining executive, born Shelby, Ohio, 1878, Married Edith Purcell, Feb. 1907, Children Frances(Johnson), Stella, mining since 1896; associated with Jack Pot and Hull City Mines, 1896-1894, later various mines, Rhyolite, Nevada, Death Valley, California, Chihuahua, Mexico, manager Moose Mine, Cripple Creek, Colorado, 1918 –, Elk (past Exalted Ruler); member , Colorado Mining Association; address Cripple Creek, Colorado.
Kenneth William Geddes
Superintendent of Schools; born, Colorado Springs, Sept. 20, 1899; son of John M. and Bessie G., educated public schools of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Grinnell College, AB 1921; Columbia University, AM 1933, Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta Kappa; married Margaret Whitehill, Iowa, December 21, 1921; Children, Kenneth W. Jr., Began as a bank clerk; high school teacher, 1923-24; high school principal 1924-28, and now Superintendent of District 1 Schools, Cripple Creek and Victor, Colorado; Alderman City of Victor, 1928 –, served in U.S. Army World War; member of Colorado Education Association; American Association of School Administrators, Kiwanis Club, president 1936; Lieut. Governor, 1939; Episcopalian; home 412 Spicer Ave.; office, High School Building, Cripple Creek.
Mine operator; born, Franklin County, Missouri, 1869; married Clara Aehart, 1894; children Carl T., William Lee (deceased), Gertrude (Mills); master mechanic, Canon City Coal Company 1885-92; operator Mickey Breen Mill, Ouray 1892-93, master mechanic Basick Mine, Coreda, Colorado, 19893; mining activities, Cripple Creek District, 1894-1902; General Manager, Western Mines Company, 1902-1906; Operator Wild Horse Mine and Mill, Cripple Creek, 1906-11; Owner, manager, Kavanaugh Mill, Cripple Creek, 1911-15; owner, manager Iron Clad Mine and Mill, Cripple Creek, 1915 —; address Cripple Creek.
Irena S. Ingham
Ex-District Judge, Cripple Creek, 1900: educator, University of Colorado; Denver University Law School; AB, LL B; Kappa Alpha Theta; married Aurthur W. Ingham, 1924 (deceased 1935); editor, Durango Herald, 1925-28,; admitted to Colorado Bar; practice before federal courts 1924; editor, part owner, Times Record, Cripple Creek, ex-District Judge, 4th District; member of American Bar Association, Womans Club, OES; home, 221 North 3rd; office, 326 Bennett, Cripple Creek.
Cecil A. Markley
Sheriff of Teller County; born Charlestown, Ill, 1898; married Grace May Berry, Nov. 1925; children, John A., Gleneva; owner, manager District Motor Company, Cripple Creek, 1920-32; operator, Pinnacle Mine, 1932-36; sheriff, 1936 to date; member Colorado Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association; Mason, Elk, Democrat; home, 411 E. Eaton; office, Court House, Cripple Creek.
Charles W. Searles
Mayor of Cripple Creek; born Steuben County, New York, Oct. 1859; education, public schools, New York, Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, Lima, N.Y., married Mary Freer (deceased), Watkins Glen, N.Y., May 1899; children Willet F. George F. (deceased), Wendall (deceased,) Began as a teacher, rancher, mine operator, Cripple Creek,1892-; Mayor Cripple Creek 1927—; S.R. KT. Mason (past Master); Shiner: Elk: Methodist; Republican; home, 400 E. Eaton, Cripple Creek.
Postmaster; ex-State Senator; born, Meadville, Pa., Jan. 1872; married Carrie I. Lear, Oct. 1893; children Hereford V., Louis O., Harry L., Kenneth L., owner, manager, Salida Bottling Works, 1893; owner, manager Cripple Creek Bottling Works, 1894 to date; Postmaster, Cripple Creek, 1936 —; served on City Council; Rep. State Legislature 1926; State Senator 1930; State President Eagles, 1929-30; Elk; Episc; Democrat; home, 220 Main; office Post Office, Cripple Creek.
"A man's true greatness lies in the consciousness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just estimate of himself and everything else, on the frequent self-examinations, and the steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be right," the book quotes Marcus Aurelius in the forward.
R.O. Norman, editor wrote in January, 1941, "We have given frank recognition to lineage; to those founded in the native soil; to those destined to become the the ancestry of future generations of Colorado. These are the names which make the history of our state, making the work a contemporary history book."
Just a year later, a different story developed in the District. War Production Board Limitation Order L-208, issued on Oct. 8, 1942, forced the closing mines here and all over the nation.