Cripple Creek, Colorado – Compulsive gambling instead of gold rush

William F. Cody is buried up on Lookout Mountain. He was laid to rest in this place close to Denver on his own wish, even if this desire met with a lack of understanding or disapproval whatsoever in Cody, the town founded by him. His foster son and lifelong admirer established a small museum for life and legend of Buffalo Bill besides the grave that can be visited for 5 $. Cody raised Johnny Baker instead of his only son who passed away at the age of five. Therefore Baker possessed numerous personal belongings and photos from Cody’s leftovers, which are part of the exhibit today. So we learn that Sioux chief Sitting Bull, a bitter opponent of Cody during the war, went for four months on tour with Cody’s western show later as highly respected friend.

We accept a short detour, because we really want to go from Central City to Idaho Springs on the Virginia Canyon Road, often advertised as Oh-my-God Road. At first it starts harmlessly, when the paved lane spirals into the sky. But then “Oh my God, the road is down there!” it becomes quite exciting. The track, now gravel and of course without crash barrier, gets so narrow that we just wish for an oncoming-traffic-free phase. The view to Mount Evans Range makes up to us for many “oh my God”. Fortunately there is not much traffic and as long as the road is dry there are no problems when descending again the 500 metres.

From Idaho Springs the beautiful road combination # 285 / 77 / 1 takes us to Cripple Creek. At Kenosha Pass we reach 10,000 feet for the first time, with sun and without blizzard. Then we get to a high valley at nearly 3,000 m. The town Cripple Creek was once in the middle of Colorado’s gold rush. Still today people are mining for gold, although with lower gains. The whole village was declared a historical district and turned into a gambling den, after Colorado allowed game of chance here and in Central City. Today the historical fronts are renovated. Hotels, restaurants and campgrounds seem to be disproportionately large according to the town’s size. But the parking lots are astonishingly occupied; coaches cart whole loads of compulsive American gamblers to Cripple Creek. But there is nobody on the prettily fixed streets. I guess the slot machines have a lot of company.

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