While the stormy rainy weather that rolled in during our visit to Cripple Creek, Colorado disappointingly prevented us from wandering the streets of the historic Gold Rush town, we still had a lot of fun! We toured the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine 1,000 feet underground, we explored the Cripple Creek Heritage Center, and we visited the Outlaws & Lawmen Jail Museum in the historic Teller County Jail building. We also took a train ride on the Cripple Creek And Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.
The Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, pulled by a century-old steam locomotive, transports you back to the gold mining days of Cripple Creek and Victor, Colorado on a trip through the mountains and forest and past mining remnants.
We arrived at the original Cripple Creek Midland Depot and relocated Gift Shop just in time to purchase our tickets and some freshly popped popcorn to enjoy on our winding four mile trip through the historic gold mining district.
While I would have preferred to sit in an open-air car, we slid into one of the benches in an enclosed car because it was raining. Luckily though, we sat in the front of the rail car, which meant we got a close up look at the engineer loading coal into the fiery train engine throughout the ride.
- The railroad track travels south out of Cripple Creek, past the old Midland Terminal Wye over a reconstructed trestle, past many historic mines and terminates near the deserted mining camp of Anaconda, then returns to Cripple Creek the same way it came.
- The train is pulled by an old steam engine and hot, fiery charcoal. Experience its pillaring smoke, sounds of steam, and clash of working steel just as the miners did who rode the Midland Terminal roadbed when Cripple Creek District’s population approached 50,000.
- This 4.0 mile, 45 minute round-trip train ride includes stories about the rich local history, stops at special points of interest like Echo Valley, and some great photo spots.
On our train ride, we passed the Old Homestead Parlor House, Poverty Gulch, a grove of Aspens, the Million Dollar Fill, a rock cut, Echo Valley, and Bob Womack’s Cabin. We also rode passed the sites sites of mines such as the Gold King Mine, the Yellow Bird Mine, Conundrum Mine, Lexington Mine, E Porter King Mine, Achoria-Leland Mine, Good Chance Mine, Pointer Mine, Caldonia Mine, El Paso Mine, American Beauty Mine, and Chicken Hawk Mine.
Cripple Creek Railroad History
Dr. John Birmingham was born into a railroad family, his father was an engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad as was his grandfather. In 1965 he purchased two locomotives from the Climax Molybdenum mine of Colorado. One was fully operational the second was 60% through a major overhaul. John spent his spare time and vacations to build the railroad with help from his friends and family. The railway follows sections of the Midland Terminal Railway (MTR) and the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad.
In 1967, Birmingham opened the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad for business and it has been carrying passengers ever since.
The Gift Shop and Ticket Office located next to the original Cripple Creek Midland Depot was originally built in 1894 as the Anaconda station. It was moved to Bull Hill after the fire of 1904 destroyed most of Anaconda, and moved once more to its present location in 1968. The wood water tower was commissioned by Birmingham and built by Denver Tank and Reel.
The railroad’s one station and around half of its route is located within the Cripple Creek Historic District, a National Historic Landmark.
Today the family business is now operated and managed by John Birmingham’s son, Jim and his family. They have several coal-fired two foot narrow gauge locomotives. During our visit, the train was pulled by the Number 2 engine, a 1936 0-4-0 Henschel that was built in Germany.
Know Before You Go
- Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad is located at 520 E Carr Avenue, Cripple Creek, Colorado 80813 in Teller County.
- Admission: $15.00/adult, $14.00/seniors 65+, $10.00/children 3-12, children under 3 are free.
- The Gift Shop and Ticket office open at 9:30 am and the first train leaves the station at 10:00 am. Trains depart approximately every 40 minutes until around 5:00 pm (based on demand).
- The family-friendly train ride is a 45 minute, four mile round trip ride. Get some popcorn in the gift shop before the train departs.
- The gift shop is jam-packed with t-shirts, books, apparel, Thomas the Tank items, housewares, Christmas items, gifts, toys, and more.
- If you call ahead, wheelchair accommodations can be made available.
- The train is pet friendly! Your dog may ride the train with you.