CRIPPLE CREEK — For more than 100 years, people have been coming to a small Colorado town with the dreams of striking it rich. It started with tens of thousands of gold-seekers in the late 1800s and has transformed into gamblers, trying their luck in one of the town’s grand casinos.
Cripple Creek is a charming community with a rich heritage. Located just over two hours southwest of Denver and about an hour outside of Colorado Springs, the town sits on the southwest slope of Pikes Peak.
Just over 1,000 people call Cripple Creek home, according to the most recent census numbers, but many more come through the town each year to visit. It is still a well-known gambling town, with nine large casinos occupying many of the restored brick buildings along the main street of downtown.
However, Cripple Creek has so much more to offer: for those who need a break between card games and slot machines and even those who have no interest in gambling.
The World’s Greatest Gold Camp
The earliest people to live in what is now Cripple Creek were tribes of Utes. What is now Ute Pass on Highway 24 was a major passageway into the mountains for the tribe. Fur trappers came next, roaming the area in the early 1800s.
The first settlers arrived in the 1870s, using the land for ranches. Grazing cattle would occasionally get injured because the streambed in the area is unusually rocky. In fact, this is where the name Cripple Creek comes from. But, it was the discovery of gold by a local cowboy in 1890 that would put Cripple Creek on the national radar.
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