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

April 29, 2016 | NPR · Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton was playing it this week. And then it seemed the entire Internet joined in the game.
 

Getty Images
April 29, 2016 | NPR · Republican presidential candidates, led by Donald Trump, claim President Obama has slashed defense spending and will leave his successor with a weaker force. We break it down.
 

De Agostini/Getty Images
April 29, 2016 | NPR · Legislation adopting the bison as the U.S. national mammal passed the House and Senate this week. Now it’s waiting for President Obama’s signature.
 

Arts & Life

April 29, 2016 | NPR · NPR’s Kelly McEvers speaks with actress Amanda Peet about her Lenny Letter essay, “Never Crossing The Botox Rubicon,” and how to navigate aging in the image-obsessed entertainment industry.
 

Craighton Berman/Workman Publishing
April 29, 2016 | NPR · New parents need all the help they can get. Author and mom of two Asha Dornfest has compiled a book of 134 handy hacks for parents. That roll of blue painter’s tape? A “magical multitasker,” she says.
 

AP
April 29, 2016 | NPR · Actress Allison Janney, who played the White House press secretary in the NBC drama, made a surprise appearance during the daily press briefing to talk about opioid addiction.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
April 29, 2016 | NPR · With an assist from the master of California mellow, the Montreal-based producer embodies that all-purpose millennial watchword: chill.
 

April 29, 2016 | FA · A range of musicians, including Tom Waits and Sinéad O’Connor, cover gospel-blues performer Johnson on a new tribute album. Critic Milo Miles says the record’s tracks are striking and inventive.
 

Todd Cole
April 29, 2016 | NPR · The electronic musician has been turning traditional song structures inside out for nearly 20 years. On this +1 he explains how he breathes life into an artificial sonic world.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab