Few rags-to-riches stories are as American as the story of Winfield Scott Stratton. His name now adorns street signs, buildings and parks throughout the Pikes Peak Region, but the story (embellished as it may be by this reading from Marshall Sprague’s Money Mountain: The Story of Cripple Creek Gold) of just how hard he worked to become the working man’s gold baron is a true Cripple Creek melodrama and could easily be fodder for an HBO miniseries!

“Old Man Stratton”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(This piece was originally featured on this past weekend’s episode of Western Skies. It was read by Jeff Bieri. Period music was recorded from the Wilsted Family player piano. Thanks!)

 

9 Responses to The Greatest Cripple Creek Gold Story of All Time

  1. Paul says:

    I enjoyed this. Have read Newport in the Rockies but will have to read this one too.

  2. Bob Carnein says:

    This is just one great story in “Money Mountain”, and just one great story about Cripple Creek. Thanks. (But the piano music is just distracting.)

  3. Nancy Wilsted says:

    Such suspense!!!

  4. Noel Black says:

    Hi Bob, thanks for your comment. Duly noted! This isn’t meant to diminish it, but just as an aside: We were trying to highlight the melodrama both with the hyperbolic title and the piano music. Best, Noel Black

    • Di says:

      As one who studied film music, I say you have created a telling auditory background. One imagines the bars and homes of the people who made him rich, pianolas belting out the melodic pulse of the age.

  5. joyce cheney says:

    The story could have stood on its own. That said, adding music was a fine creative approach, too – but in this case, the volume made the music a distraction. Part of the time, it was simply hard to hear the words. Thank you for giving us history to listen to – like the multi-episode story of the troubles in Leadville.

  6. Eva says:

    cool story. Makes me want to finally pick up and read Sprague’s books.

  7. Terry says:

    I thought the music set the tone for that time, it could have been a toned down just a little, because at times it was hard to hear the narrator. I just spent some quality time in Cripple Creek during the day, during the week, when it was deserted, taking photos of buildings, old signs, and thumbing through the old Court House Registry from the late 1800s, early 1900s. It was amazing to read the death records of the immigrants who lived in Cripple Creek at that time, hand written in black ink and fancy penmanship in an huge old registry book. Each page documented lists of their belongings, including property such as land and buildings, interests in local mines, and chattel such as wine from Germany, boxes of cigars, yardage of silk and lace, sewing machines, mining tools and farm machinery, hats, dresses, suits, and other such possessions of that time period. You could see who were rich, according to the value of their items and property, and who were poor with handwritten statements of NONE where there should have been chattel or property. And, it showed that there were only 1, 2 or 3 deaths a year. I only got through about 25 pages, but it was very interesting, and I hope to go back one day and thumb through more of the pages. It’s fun to go back in time in Cripple Creek, when it’s deserted of buses, tourists and gamblers. It was an exciting time during Stratton’s lifetime in Colorado.

  8. Noel Black says:

    Thanks for the update, Terry! We’ll tone down the music a bit next time. Good feedback. Cheers, Noel

News

via YouTube
January 31, 2015 | NPR · In a commercial, the comedian pretends no one can see her. One Indian journalist says there’s more to the ad than selling insurance. Being visible comes with a risk of violence for women in India.
 

Courtesy of Greg O'Brien
January 31, 2015 | NPR · Greg O’Brien talks about how his life has changed in the five years since he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. “More and more I don’t recognize people,” he says.
 

January 31, 2015 | NPR · The Oscar-nominated star of the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game has joined actor and comedian Stephen Fry in calling for a blanket pardon of 49,000 men punished under long-defunct law.
 

Arts & Life

Le Studio Photography
January 31, 2015 | NPR · While Deon Taylor was playing professional basketball in Germany, he had an epiphany: he wanted to make movies. The self-taught director’s latest film, Supremacy, was released this Friday.
 

via YouTube
January 31, 2015 | NPR · In a commercial, the comedian pretends no one can see her. One Indian journalist says there’s more to the ad than selling insurance. Being visible comes with a risk of violence for women in India.
 

January 31, 2015 | NPR · Jynne Dilling Martin spent six weeks living on the bottom of the world and watching scientists work. The experience inspired many of the poems in her new collection, We Mammals in Hospitable Times.
 

Music

January 31, 2015 | NPR · Veteran dancehall troupe and guaranteed bringers of good times Ward 21 dropped a new video on Friday.
 

January 31, 2015 | NPR · From a sensational soprano to an audacious new work for orchestra, NPR Music’s Tom Huizenga and host Arun Rath spin a broad selection of new classical albums.
 

Courtesy of the Revenant Archives
January 31, 2015 | NPR · Music was an afterthought for Paramount Records, a short-lived label founded by a furniture company. But in its final years, it gave vital exposure to the artists who would come to define Delta blues.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab