Posts Tagged: Donkey Derby Days

Donkey Derby Days

Donkey Derby Sign

During my first research trip to Cripple Creek, Colorado, I met a couple of the town’s beloved residents–two donkeys that are a part of a herd of about a dozen that roam the city’s streets. When miners had to leave the area, often their donkeys were let loose. The several donkeys that roam the streets are believed to be descendants of those used to work the mines in the Cripple Creek and Victor gold camps.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Every June Cripple Creek celebrates its rich, historical heritage with Donkey Derby Days. Last summer when my hubby and I set out on a Book Tour Road Trip to celebrate the release of The Bride Wore Blue, Book 3 in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, we included participation in the annual Donkey Derby Days in our book launch activities.

Donkey Derby Sign

My participation in the celebration included several book signing events at the Cripple Creek District Museum and The Old Homestead Museum.

The 1890s Parlour featured in The Bride Wore Blue

The 1890s Parlour featured in The Bride Wore Blue

A parade is part of the Donkey Derby Days festivities, and the Gold Camp Victorian Society invited me to ride their float. So much fun.

Click here to learn more about the 82nd Donkey Derby Days,  June 29-30, 2013 in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Cripple Creek

Denver and Colorado Springs were popular towns in Colorado Territory, and have remained so since Colorado received statehood in 1876. Although Cripple Creek is often overlooked, the gold mining camp’s footprint is deep and widespread in Colorado’s historical soil.

Cripple Creek, nestled in a saddle valley on the southwestern slopes of Pikes Peak, became a booming gold mining camp in the 1890’s. At an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet, just below timberline, the city’s history is one of highs and lows with fires, disease, outlaws, Indian wars, labor wars, and prostitution.

Here’s a peek at the Cripple Creek that inspired me as I wrote The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.

  • Tens of thousands of men (and women) flocked to the rocky mountains of Colorado seeking gold.
  • Between 1890 and 1910 more than 22,000,000 ounces of gold were extracted from 500 mines in the Cripple Creek District, mainly Cripple Creek and the neighboring town of Victor.
  • The Cripple Creek District produced more than thirty millionaires.
  • Many influential women made history in Cripple Creek. I feature and fictionalize at least of those women in each of the Sinclair sisters books. You’ll find more about them in future posts.
  • By the time the 1800’s game to a close, Cripple Creek had become a cultural destination, drawing the upper tens of Denver and Colorado Springs to its opera houses and ice cream parlors.
  • This rowdy but charming mountain home of The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek now houses several engaging museums, including the Cripple Creek District  Museum, Pikes Peak Heritage Center, Outlaws & Lawmen Jail Museum, and the Old Homestead Parlour Museum.
  • The last full weekend of June each year, Cripple Creek pays homage to its historical, mining heritage in the Donkey Derby Days Festival. Bob and I participated this year. More about that in a future post.

I hope you’ll spend time in my fictional town of Cripple Creek with Kat, Nell, Ida, and Vivian Sinclair in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, and plan to visit the historic Cripple Creek one day soon.

 

The Flying W Ranch

Flying W 60 Years-800

Twenty-two years ago, Bob and I went with my folks to Colorado. One of the highlights of the trip was our time at The Flying W Ranch in Colorado Springs. The Old West town setting, the cowboy grub, and the western show was a feast for the eyes, the stomach, and the heart. My dad’s joy was infectious as his whole rocked with explosive laughter and tears ran down his face. Priceless memories.

While laying out our Road Trip Book Tour for The Bride Wore Blue, I decided Bob and I were past due for a return to The Flying W. When I let the owner, Terry Wolfe, know about my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series of historical novels and my upcoming trip to Colorado Springs, she welcomed the opportunity to host a book signing at the ranch.

Mona signing The Bride Wore Blue
Flying W Ranch, Cowboy Shop

On Saturday, June 16th, Bob and I returned to the Flying W Ranch in Old West costumes. Terry met us at the gate and walked us through the recreated western town to the Cowboy Shop, ushering in another fabulous evening at The Flying W Ranch.

My marketing and publicity team from WaterBrook Press (publisher of my historical fiction) joined me for the book signing and the chuckwagon supper and western show. As the wranglers stepped onto the stage, new strains of laughter mingled with the old in an evening brimming with new memories.

Days later, I was in Cripple Creek, poised to participate in Donkey Derby Days events, when I received word from my editor in Colorado Springs that the Waldo Canyon Fire had consumed The Flying W Ranch.

My heart ached for the families whose loved ones passed, for the more than 300 families who had lost their homes, for Terry Wolfe and her Flying W Ranch family, and for all who suffered in the path of the Waldo Canyon fire.

Imagine my excitement when I learned of the plans to rebuild The Flying W Ranch. I’m already looking forward to our next visit.

The pioneer spirit of Colorado lives on. Just like the people of Cripple Creek who rebuilt their town after the devastating fires of 1896, the folks of Colorado Springs are moving forward…rebuilding.

Godspeed, Colorado Springs!

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