Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
- Colorado History -
Colorado's Only Bullfight and More!
Gillett was a gold camp known as the "Monte Carlo of the West." The town of Gillett bragged of three dance halls, and 14 saloons that were open 24 hours a day. Gillett also had the Cripple Creek District's race track, and the town was a popular site for sporting events.
Colorado's only bullfight was held in Gillett in 1895. On the first day of the event, the crowd included 100 women, mostly prostitutes, and a few nervous humane society official and local law enforcement agents. The promoters were fined $5 for cruelty to animals and then the show proceeded.
The bulls were too frightened to fight. It ended up that the first bull was tortured for 20 minutes before it was finally killed, and the second bull was shot by a deputy. By the time it was all over, the promoters only took in $2600 against their $7000 in expenses. Gillett's bullfight was a fiasco in part because it attracted as many pickpockets and con men as legitimate patrons.
Victor was a lusty gold camp and its saloons and whorehouses were as wicked as Cripple Creek's were. But, the mine owners and big spenders all lived in Cripple Creek. One of the area's richest mines, the Gold Coin, was discovered in the middle of town. The Portland, Independence and Ajax mines were located on Battle Mountain, just north of Victor. The prizefighter Jack Dempsey mucked in the Portland Mine, and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the YMCA.
Victor's disastrous fire began in a crib in Paradise Alley on August 21, 1899. As the Times reported, the crib's denizens had been smoking opium. While the ashes were still smoldering, the citizens of Victor began rebuilding - the banks and saloons were back in business in just three days.
The town of Fremont was close to Poverty Gulch and several of the first gold discoveries. By the spring of 1891, there were a hundred or so prospectors who had pitched tents and made camps on the Broken Box Ranch owned by the Houseman Company. Instead of evicting the prospectors, the land owners decided to seize the opportunity.
They platted the Broken Box Ranch and began to sell "town lots." The sale of lots was brisk, but since no one in the Houseman Company had faith in the new gold discoveries each deed was written with the restriction that all lumber and improvements had to be left on the lots when the property was abandoned.
The Hayden Placer Group just northeast of the Fremont area entered into competiton with the Houseman Company's lot sales, but the deeds of the Houseman Company did not have restrictions on gambling or liquor sales. Hayden Placer took on more of a residential character, while Fremont became the business district.
Independence played a decisive role in the 1903-04 labor war in the Cripple Creek District. Terrorist Harry Orchard, allied with the Western Federation of Miners, blew up the Independence depot. Thirteen men died when the Independence depot was bombed, and several more men were mutilated. This incident hastened the end of the Cripple Creek District's labor war.
Independence was named for the Independence Mine, Winfield
Scott Stratton's great discovery. the town was within walking distance
of many of the mines in the district. Independence was finally deserted
in the 1950s, so it is one of Colorado's best preserved ghost towns.
Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes:
Early Cripple Creek District
- Colorado History In Depth
The Cheyenne Social Club
Colorado's Role in the US Civil
More Colorado History
Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000
Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
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