Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bear Dens of Pinnacle Park, Cripple Creek and Victor Mining District

Historic bear cage in foreground, mining activity in the
background.
The Woods family founded Victor during the Cripple Creek and Victor gold rush.  The family had many interests in the mining district. They owned the Gold Coin Mine, the First National Bank of Victor, the Pikes Peak Power Company which supplied hydroelectric power from a dam at Skaguay Reservoir, and many other enterprises.

Bricks were carefully placed to form an arch over the entrance
to the bear caves.
The Woods were concerned with the social life of miners and invested some of their money back into the mining district for this cause. They built the fabulous Gold Coin Club that was designed for the recreation of the miners who worked in the Gold Coin Mine.  Another Woods family project was building Pinnacle Park–an 1890s theme park at the town of Cameron. Pinnacle Park was a vast amusement park with a picnic ground, a zoo, and merry-go-rounds. This was an exciting place where all of the people of the mining district could go for a variety of amusements and relaxation—and place away from the hard work of the mines.
Families brought picnics and came for the day to play ballgames, horseshoes, listen to concerts, dance, and engage in other entertainments. Pinnacle Park's zoo was a big draw. The bear dens were popular.  The dens had cement pads in front and were enclosed with heavy-gauge wire.  Higher up, behind the bear dens, was a row of smaller dens that housed smaller zoo animals such as bobcats and foxes.

Pinnacle Park was an extremely popular place in the gold camp and drew large crowds on the Fourth of July and Labor Day.   A trolley and train brought people to the entrance.

Today nothing remains of Pinnacle Park other than a few rows of animal cages from the zoo.  The gold mine operating in the district is mining right to the edge of these historical structures. Soon they will be gone.  These dens are an interesting part of the gold camp's history and represents a part of the story of how people lived and played in the district in the late 19th century.  These dens need to be saved, and there is discussion that the City of Cripple Creek will attempt to move these structures.

3 comments:

  1. Around the year 1990, not only were the bear dens still there but there were other "artifacts" still present,most notably large hunks of granite with drill holes in them, left over from the drilling contests that used to be held in the Park.

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  2. Do they have to destroy all of the history? Even if the City of Cripple Creek does attempt to relocate these artifacts It isn't the same as its original locations. Just like the Anaconda building that was relocated because of the expanded Leach mining. I've been coming out to this area for 54 years and it's very disturbing to see the destruction of the mountain sides, gorgeous views and most importantly the HISTORY of our ancestors.

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  3. I believe that it is very important to preserve the history of the area and honor the hardships, challenges, and lifestyles of the early settlers to the area.
    However, its important to not that mining has never stopped in Cripple Creek. Today's operations are an extension of the work that the old time miners accomplished, and just as important. 100 years from now people of the area will still travel to cripple creek to see the work that is being done now. It will just be an even richer and interesting history to see the complete evolution of mining activities.

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