Cripple Creek, Colorado is a fantastic town filled with legends and lore dating back to the gold rush that swept the area in the late 1800’s. The town, like all “Wild West” towns and mining camps had it’s fair share of tragedy, violence and intrigue. Cripple Creek even burned to the ground twice, as was rebuilt from the ashes.
Cripple Creek’s history mirrors that of so many other mining towns of the west- Boom or Bust. Good or Bad. For most of the 20th Century Cripple Creek lay dormant, nearly a ghost town, with only a few hearty folks still lingering in town, scratching at the rocks for a few specks of gold, and selling novelty bric-a-brac to tourists passing through. More often than not the pack of wild burros that roamed the streets of Cripple Creek outnumbered the human types in town.
In the 1990’s “limited stakes gaming” was legalized in Colorado…and by “limited stakes gaming” I mean gold old fashioned gambling. Cripple Creek latched on to the idea and was reborn through the investment of casino operators and the revenue generated by the gamblers that flocked there on the weekends.
Cripple Creek today is still enjoying it’s rebirth as gambling town, and it has also managed to keep it’s “mining camp of the west” charm. Gamblers and tourists alike flock to Cripple Creek on the weekends, and, on most sunny days the wild burros still roam the sidewalks and streets of town. If you have trouble finding them, just sniff the breeze for a minute or two and you’ll soon know where to look, there’s an old mangy looking white one that is particularly pungent, but he’s real friendly and will let you pet him.
On my last couple of visits to Cripple Creek I have been drawn to a remarkable old house, left abandoned many years ago on top of a hill just west of the business district. It is a beautiful home, even in it’s decayed and neglected state. A testimonial to the craftsmanship of yesterday. It is a sturdy log structure, two stories tall, with two neatly peaked windows on the second floor. The upper level is finished in fish scale shingling, while the lower portion of the home is rough log. It’s hands down my favorite abandoned house in the State of Colorado.
While working with my latest batch of Cripple Creek photos, I noticed something unusual in one of the photos I took of this exceptional house-
In the doorway, there appears to be a middle-aged or elderly man, dressed in the clothes of the day (1890’s), back to the camera, with hands crossed behind him. He appears to be bald on the top, with hair around the sides and back of his head, and possibly even a long beard is present. He appears to be wearing a 3/4 length dark jacket with high collar, and he is looking slightly to the right and down, as if lost in deep thought. His impression is clearer towards the right, and fades to the left.
I have visited and photographed numerous ghost towns, abandoned buildings, graveyards, etc. over the years, but this is the first image of a spirit I can say I have ever captured on film. I am a believer in the paranormal, but not a fanatic or a preacher of the paranormal- I don’t seek out ghosts and ghost stories, and I don’t try to convert others to become believers.
I have a simple philosophy- I know spirits exist, I have felt them around me in various places and at various times in my life. I leave them alone, and they leave me alone. No one can say for sure what is on the “other side” or why, perhaps, a spirit gets stuck or chooses to stay on “this side”, these questions are best left unasked and unanswered, mankind does not need to know everything.
Below is my photo of “The Old Man in the Door” at Cripple Creek, Colorado, and an enlargement.
Who he is and what he is pondering I will never know, and don’t care to know.
“The Old Man”
Closeup of “The Old Man” wih his back to the camera, hands folded behind him, dark coat with collar, looking slightly right and down with beard and balding head.