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.
“Have you lived in Colorado?”
“Then how did you end up writing stories set in Colorado?”
Many readers of The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series assume I live in Cripple Creek or at least in Colorado. When they learn I live in Arizona, they invariably have questions.
In Arizona, I live at the base of Mingus Mountain, home to the most vertical town in the United States—Jerome. More than twenty years ago, when I first visited the Jerome State Historic Park, the Douglas Mansion, I became fascinated with the historic copper mining camp’s history and the romantic appeal of the late 1890’s. Soon thereafter, I entertained the idea of writing a historical novel set in Jerome during its boom town years in the late 1890s.
ACFW Conference, 2008
In 2008, I sent the first twenty pages of that endeavor to ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) as an entry in their Genesis contest for unpublished novelists. Later that year, my writing sample was awarded First Place in the Historical Fiction category at the annual ACFW conference.March 31, 2009 my agent called and asked if I was sitting down. She’d shown the proposal for the Jerome novel to several editors, and had heard back from one who was interested in publishing me.
In an out-of-the-ordinary situation, the editor, the brilliant Shannon Hill Marchese at WaterBrook Press, asked if I’d be willing to adapt my story premise and move it to Cripple Creek, Colorado. Still set in the late 1890’s. Still taking place in a mining camp, but gold instead of copper. Obviously, I said yes. And as they say, the rest is history. In the form of historical fiction.
When Shannon suggested a series that included four sisters coming west, she didn’t know, and neither did my agent, that I was one of four sisters. I leapt at the chance to write that story, incorporating a few of the characters and plot points from the Jerome novel. Dr. Morgan Cutshaw, Lewis P. Whibley, and a devastating fire all found their way into Two Brides Too Many, Book One in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.
My debut novel
October 2nd, we launched Twice a Bride, the fourth and final book in the series. And… we have another series in the works. I’ll tell you more about that in a future post. So stay tuned!
Do you have a favorite destiniation in colorado?
Have you been to Cripple Creek?
All four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels, now available!