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

Getty Images
August 21, 2014 | KWMU · The violence at night in Ferguson, Mo., has calmed down for now. However, there have been more than 160 people arrested since the protests began. Police records offer a sense of who they are.
 

Getty Images
August 21, 2014 | NPR · Two Americans were released Thursday from an Atlanta hospital after treatment for Ebola. The news has generated a flurry of questions about what happens after you survive Ebola. So we asked the CDC.
 

Reuters/Landov
August 21, 2014 | NPR · The secretary of defense says the extremists are well-funded and organized and that he expects them to “regroup and stage an offensive” despite U.S. airstrikes.
 

Arts & Life

August 21, 2014 | NPR · The romantic drama Love Is Strange finds John Lithgow and Alfred Molina playing newly married men whose lives are upended and whose spaces are disrupted.
 

August 21, 2014 | NPR · The One I Love begins as an affecting story about marriage, but as it bogs down in too much explanation of its fantasy elements, it squanders good performances from Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass.
 

iStockphoto
August 21, 2014 | NPR · It’s not news that the publishing world isn’t very diverse. But over on the other side of the industry, how do owners of neighborhood bookstores try to sell books for or about people of color?
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
August 21, 2014 | WXPN · Writer and radio personality Catalina Maria Johnson explores a musical movement in Argentina. She first heard the music through visual arts and describes it as ecological, spiritual and organic.
 

Courtesy of the artist
August 21, 2014 | WXPN · The bassist, singer and songwriter performs music from her new album (Comet, Come To Me) and discusses how Nina Simone’s work influences her own.
 

August 21, 2014 | NPR · Before Ponty came to the States, he already had his concept. Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the digital reissue of Sunday Walk.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab