Zeb the Duck heads to Cripple Creek and Victor, Colorado

Today I, Zeb the Duck, am taking mom and a friend to Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Cripple Creek, Colorado

Cripple Creek is an old mining town in Colorado.   And that is why we are here today.   Our friend’s grandfather left Illinois and came to Cripple Creek about 1900.   The family story says he had mine claims but did not become rich.   In fact, he lost most of his money here.   The family has a photo of him in Cripple Creek, wearing a bear skin coat, from a bear he shot.   We are here today, looking for any records about Grandpa.   First stop is the museum in Cripple Creek.

Cripple Creek Museum

They used to have records available to the public, but not now.   The very nice lady suggested we go the the nearby town of Victor to search for records.   On our way to Victor, we stopped at the outdoor mining exhibit.

Cripple Creek and Victor gold rush

Wow.   Did you read that?? The towns of Cripple Creek and Victor had a really huge amount of gold.   More gold here than in the California and Alaska gold fields, combined.   There were a few old gold mining machines here, but look at this huge tire.

Huge tire

You can hardly see me in this tire.   What do they do with these giant tires?

Tire information

Each tire weighs 3,270 pounds and costs $14,500.   We will never complain about buying new tires for our cars again.   There is now surface mining in this area.   In Victor, we see that things have not changed much.

Victor, Colorado

We love this sign.   Let’s see what was happening in Victor during the gold rush.

Victor, Colorado during the gold rush

Famous people here, Jack Dempsey, a famous fighter, Lowell Thomas, famous radio and TV commentator, and what??  Soapy Smith was here also.   Isn’t this exciting?  Soapy Smith was promoting bullfights.   And fire station.


Buildings look the same as when they were built over 100 years ago.   Here is the Lowell Thomas museum.

Lowell Thomas museum

There is an entire section dedicated to Lowell Thomas.   Also many interesting things from Victor and Cripple Creek.   Isn’t this a cute church?

Friends of St. Victor church

This is Friends of St. Victor Church.   Next to the church I, Zeb the Duck, loved this grotto.

Grotto next to church

Of course, while in Victor we inquired about records from the mining days.   They said they did not have any available, but to try Teller County Courthouse.   So, back to Cripple Creek to Teller County Courthouse.

Teller County Court House

We were sent to three different offices and each person we spoke with was so nice.   Everyone looked through the records in their office, but did not find anything we wanted.   But the staff was so helpful and showed us what they did have and let us also look at the records.   But, no records from Grandpa were to be found.   The humans will have to think and decide if they have any other ideas of places to look.   I would not be surprised if in the future we try again.   Leaving the courthouse and heading for our car, we encountered some of the local residents.

Local residents

They are descendants from the mining days and the working burros.

I think he likes me

I love this burro.   He is so relaxed and comfortable with humans and a rubber duck.   Well, time to leave Cripple Creek, but we make one last stop.   This is the famous, former brothel.   The gray building on the right.

Former brothel

Pearl DeVere was the madame and although shunned by the good people of Cripple Creek, she was very generous, helping the children and the poor.  During this time, miners earned about $3.00 per day.   Pearl’s ladies received $250 per night, which included dinner with Russian caviar, and French champaign, and the company of the lady.   And each gentlemen had to pass a personal and financial background check.  We learned about Pearl a few years ago when we were here for the cemetery tour.   Cripple Creek is a great town.   We think you would enjoy a visit here.


Light Rail to Downtown Denver in 9 minutes

Zeb the Duck and Channel the Bear took their moms and the Light Rail train to Denver’s Union Station.  The newest Light Rail station into Denver is in nearby Westminster.

New Light Rail station opened

New Light Rail station opened

Sitting inside, Zeb the Duck and Channel the Bear admire this arch.

On the train admiring arch

On the train admiring arch

Arriving at Denver’s Union Station, safety is emphasized.   In many places we saw lists of Dumb Ways to Die, the list ending with safety reminders for the Light Rail.

Be careful. Don't be careless

Be careful. Don’t be careless

Let’s head for Union Station.

Denver's Union Station

Denver’s Union Station

Here is the Terminal Bar.

Terminal Bar in Union Station

Terminal Bar in Union Station

Even though it is called a bar, much food is also served here.   After exploring Union Station, we head outside, and see Octavia the Octopus.

Octavia the Octopus from WashedAshore.org

Octavia the Octopus from WashedAshore.org

She is made entirely from trash that washed up on beaches.     Visit  www.WashedAshore.org for more information about this program.  We learned that an octopus lives about 4 years, but grows to 20 feet in length.   They are also very intelligent animals.   Denver’s oldest hotel, Oxford Hotel, is located half a block from the train station.

The Oxford. Denver's oldest hotel

The Oxford. Denver’s oldest hotel

The Oxford opened for business in 1891 and an elegant room rented for $1 per night.   Or, $2 nightly for an elegant room with a bath.   It certainly costs more than that now.   Our human moms took us inside and then, inside the ladies room.

Oxford Hotel elegant ladies room

Oxford Hotel’s elegant ladies room

They said this is classic elegance.   The bar is cozy and intimate.   We appreciated the murals on the wall.

One of several murals in bar at Oxford Hotel

One of several murals in bar at Oxford Hotel

Next we went to the Ice House.

Historic Ice House

Historic Ice House

The Ice House had been built as a cold storage facility for Littleton Creamery, later to be sold to Beatrice Foods for cold storage.  Used for 80 years as cold storage warehouse, when the building was abandoned, windows soon were broken out.   Now the entire building was frozen. During restoration, the first step was thawing.   This took about one year.   Wow!  Great construction for cold storage.   Many offices, business and condos are located in this building now.   On the ground floor is the Brazilian steakhouse, Rodizio Grill.   We did not eat here today, but the humans have eaten here previously.   They say the food is good.  Walking in downtown Denver, we saw this plaque about the first robbery of the Denver Mint.

Mint Robbery

Mint Robbery

This is one time our humans feel bad for a thief.   It really is rather sad how this ended for him. Colorado became a state in 1876.   The first City Hall was at this location near Larimer Street and Speer Boulevard.

Bell from Denver's first City Hall

Bell from Denver’s first City Hall

This bell is the only existing relic of our first City Hall.  You remember Soapy Smith Duck, one of the Colorado Traveling Ducks.   He is named for a real rascal, Soapy Smith.   When the human Soapy Smith was in Denver, this was one of his favorite places.

Old Soapy Smith hang out

Old Soapy Smith hang out

Here, across from the first City Hall, a governor tried to fire corrupt commissioners, but a force led by Soapy Smith, changed the governor’s mind.   Along Larimer Street, we stopped in this courtyard.   There are restaurants here and it is a nice area for a meal.  This statue, from 1924, is in memory of Richard Pinhorn.

Cozy courtyard with restaurants

Cozy courtyard with restaurants

In 1894, Richard Pinhorn opened The Manhattan Restaurant.   His establishment soon became one of the favorite haunts of the Rich and Famous.   The Manhattan Restaurant was the first in Denver to serve onion rings.   Yum!   Zeb and Channel love onion rings!   We return to Union Station for something to eat.

Eating lunch outside

Eating lunch outside

Then back to the Light Rail train, and we will be delivered to our car in 9 minutes.   That is fast!

Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith II

Zeb the Duck here to tell you about Leadville, Colorado in the 1800’s.  Silver mines were profitable, and everybody was looking for fast money.  Prostitutes were plentiful, street merchants and entertainers were everywhere.  Even Doc Holiday was in Leadville; arrested twice in three days for attempted murder.  Con men were also very common on the streets of Leadville.

One of the con men was Jefferson Randolph Smith II.  He began selling soap.  He wrapped a $100 bill around a bar of soap, re-wrapping it with his own label, and placed it in a box with other bars of his “Sapolion” soap.  Walking into a saloon with the soap, his silent partner purchased a bar of soap and opened it in front of the saloon patrons.  What a surprise.  There was a crisp one hundred dollar bill under the wrapping! Needless to say soap sales escalated at a phenomenal rate for “Soapy”.

Soapy soon left town, (a necessary move) relocating in Creede, Colorado and then to Alaska where he was killed in a gunfight on July 8, 1898.  Leadville will always remember “Soapy” Smith.

Now you know why JB Duck, Eider Duck, myself (Zeb the Duck) and the little ducks always have to watch our “Soapy” Smith Duck.  He is quite the scoundrel.

No sapolion soap for our Soapy Smith Duck

No sapolion soap for our Soapy Smith Duck

This information was from http://www.leadville.com/history/soapy.htm