Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railway

Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railway
Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railway
System map
Locale Colorado
Dates of operation 1897–1920
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)

The Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railway was a standard gauge railroad operating in the U.S. state of Colorado around the turn of the 20th century.


Track in the Garden of the Gods, 1901

On April 13, 1897, Lucian D. Ross, Thomas Burk, James L. Lindsay, W.T. Doubt and Kurnel R. Babbitt organized the Cripple Creek District Railway Company to operate a 6.25 miles (10.06 km) standard gauge electric line between Cripple Creek and Victor, Colorado. The "Pikes Peak gold rush" of 1859 brought many would-be gold miners to the eastern base of Pikes Peak but only those that went north to Cherry Creek found any minerals that were valuable. The rest went home empty handed and the Pikes Peak region gained a poor reputation as a potential gold area. Finally in 1890, rocks from Bob Womack's persistent digging were assayed in Colorado Springs showing that the rock actually contained gold. This led to the formation of the Cripple Creek Mining District on April 5, 1891. [1]

Better transportation than wagons was urgently needed to access the newly formed mining district. During 1894 a narrow-gauge line, known as the Florence and Cripple Creek railroad was built at a cost of $500,000. The Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad extended forty miles and reached the district from the Arkansas River to the south in 1894. This was quickly followed by the standard gauge Midland Terminal line coming from a connection with the Colorado Midland to the north. This one was thirty miles long and cost $25,000 per mile to construct. The two railroads, competitive at first, joined forces forming a monopoly. Mine owners with mills in Colorado City adjacent to Colorado Springs organized and built The Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek Railroad or "Short Line" traversing the south slope of Pikes Peak. The new railroad was able to force freight rates downward accelerating production. At peak capacity, the Midland Terminal Railroad operated ten trains a day. One train carried parlor cars and sleepers and offered champagne dinners on overnight excursions from Denver. Freight cars hauled coal, lumber, explosives, machinery, fruit and other luxuries. Outbound, the same cars carried ore for delivery to reduction mills, such as the Golden Cycle, Standard, Telluride, and Portland at the western edge of Colorado Springs. The name was changed to Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railway on November 17, 1899. An extension to Colorado Springs opened in April 1901. The Colorado and Southern Railway directed operations from 1904 to 1911.

Losing money due to competition from the Florence and Cripple Creek Railway and the Midland Terminal Railway, the Colorado and Southern Railway leased the Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railway to the Florence and Cripple Creek in 1911. In 1915 this lease was transferred to the Cripple Creek Central Railway, which also controlled the Midland Terminal Railway.

By 1917 most rail traffic in the area was directed to the Midland Terminal Railway. The loss of the Bear Creek Bridge in May 1918 cut off all direct traffic from Colorado springs. Bankruptcy was declared in 1919, at which time it went into receivership. All operations ceased in 1920 and the line was sold for scrap.

Other Information:

Is the station/depot currently used for railroad purposes?: No

Is the station/depot open to the public?: Yes

If the station/depot is not being used for railroad purposes, what is it currently used for?: Cripple Creek District Museum

What rail lines does/did the station/depot serve?: Midland Railway

Portions of the roadbed form Gold Camp Road and may be driven today.


Short Line to Cripple Creek Author: Tivis E Wilkins Publisher: Golden, Colo. : Colorado Railroad Museum, ©1983.

External links

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