by Trevor Phipps:
Thousands of visitors travel to Cripple Creek and Victor each year to enjoy the historic atmosphere, capped by 19th century mining buildings and head frames strategically placed along the hillsides around the CC/V district.
Much of the scenery and the special relics of these historic gold boom towns is a credit to the efforts of the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company (CC&V), which has made great strides in an effort to preserve and relocate buildings left from the district’s heyday. During a recent CC&V “Mine Shots” forum, officials at the CC&V mine conducted a detailed presentation to explain the work that goes into saving and moving these historic structures. This presentation was offered free to the public and featured an hour long discussion by two CC&V officials, a lunch at Ralf’s Break Room, and a two hour tour of the mining district which showcased structures that have been relocated.
The event started with a presentation from Jeff Campbell and Mike Ellis, two key officials from CC&V who have played a big role in these relocation projects. Campbell discussed the initial process of assessing the structures and devising a plan to preserve these often dilapidated old buildings. “If it’s there, we figure out how to preserve it,” said Campbell, when explaining what CC&V decides to do with historic structures that are located in areas they plan to mine. He explained that based upon the original condition of the structure, CC&V decides whether to disassemble and re-assemble the structure or to reinforce it and move it as an entire building.
Ellis, an engineer and official for the mine, started his portion of the presentation by explaining how the team at CC&V cares about preserving the history of the area. He then went on to show examples of three structures that were preserved and relocated. One example featured was the “Forest Queen” Ore House, which was relocated to the Hoosier Mine area. Ellis, through visuals, demonstrated in depth how the mine reinforced the 80-ton structure with steel beams and relocated it to the Hoosier Mine area. In order to move this ore house, the relocation crew had to build a custom road to get the structure out onto the main highway. The CC&V officials also cited the time, money and effort that is involved in these preservation and relocation efforts.
After a lunch at Ralf’s Break Room, the “Mine Shot” participants were loaded onto two tour buses. The first stop was Hoosier Pass where the Hoosier Mine can be seen along with the relocated blacksmith shop and office of the Cameron Mine, and the featured “Forest “Queen” Ore House. After displaying details of the “Forest Queen” restoration, the tour moved on to the former Alma town site near Victor to show structures that were relocated there.
The last stop of the tour was inside the town of Victor at the St. Patrick’s Mine site. At this area the experts discussed the relocation efforts of the “Rittenhouse” Hoist House. Throughout the tour, participants got a chance to learn more and walk around the three historic building sites to look at the surviving structures.
In a recent presentation several months ago, CC&V Community Affairs Director Jane Mannon made it clear that the mine is committed to saving these old structures. Another signature preservation project involves the Mary McKinney Crib Wall off Hwy 67.
The recent historic preservation mining tour was a special addition to the regular summer public tours CC&V does for a small fee. These popular tours, aimed to benefit the Lowell Thomas Museum in Victor, feature a detailed look into the actual modern-day mining process, from the time ore is extracted to the final gold product. CC&V works hard with the community to educate people regarding their ongoing projects and invests thousands of dollars a year into the community by supporting a bevy of non-profit groups. Information is available at their visitor center located in downtown Cripple Creek at 371 E. Bennett Avenue.