11. Cripple Creek and Victor

The map below shows the path of the previous chapter 10 across the Atlantic in blue, the current Chapter 11 in orange with popups in Colorado, and the next chapter 12 out to the west coast in Yellow.

View the First Ten Segments Without Popups This is a preview showing the path Hayes records in the diary up to age 22 without synopses.  Look at it in Google Earth if you can.

View Segments 11-20 Without Popups. Google maps won’t let me put more than 10 segments on on map or I’d post segments 1-20 there.

View the first twenty segments without popups on Google Earth If you click this button it will offer a google earth download.  You will need to have Google Earth Installed.  This is by far the best way to view all his trips to age 25.

View the first eleven segments with popups on Google Earth This will mean a download again.  But it’s worth it.  Because…  when you have it up in google earth you can close the windows, then open them in order to see his progression.

Requested photo places

I think I’ll quit making specific photo requests.  The photo people can decide for themselves whether or not to send and from where

Here and There Synopsis:

11.1 Boom Times at Cripple Creek

April 15, 1899

Only a rich gold strike could draw so many prospectors to the cold rarified air of the Rocky Mountains. Ten thousand men working for low wages scrape as much as $12,000,000 dollars gold in one year for the owners of the Cripple Creek mine; thousands more work at Altman, Victor and Independence. Hayes’ lingering influenza from the Bergenland prevents him from immediately starting heavy work in the mines, but the rooming houses and eateries offer lighter work for those who will do it.

Cripple Creek typifies mining towns all over the western Untied States: “gambling houses, red light district and dance halls.” Hayes can see that something more is growing: the big strike at Cripple Creek bought a respectable business section on Bennett Street and a large hotel “equal to those in big cities,” but most of the town caters to the rough entertainments of the miners: booze, gambling, and women all designed to separate the miners from their wages as rapidly as possible.

11.2 Flirting with the Salvation Army

May 2, 1899

A man named Charley the German knocks at Hayes’ door in the middle of the night looking for a warm body to help out at his rooming house in Victor, so Hayes takes the job. He says that he and Herman, the American cook, “haul well together,” and the money isn’t bad. This will do for now.

In his spare time, the Monarch casino and the Dewey dance hall draw his attention. He knows they are wrong – and even boring, but the rough town offers little else by way of diversion. Compared to the excitement of Cripple Creek in 1899, war in the Philippines rates only a one sentence comment: Dewey is a hero to all.

Hayes has not been to church for five years. Sitting in the Monarch trembling all over to restrain himself from a sure-fire scheme for “doubling up on the red or black,” he hears the story of a foreman from the McKinney mine who lost his all at roulette, walked home and shot himself. Hayes runs from the casino right into the midst of the Salvation Army preaching in the street. Their talk draws him powerfully; he wonders if this “friend of sinners” talk applies to him as well – but no, “I won’t chance them.” Instead of a visit to their modest church, he went on to the Dewey to watch the girls fleece the drunken miners.

11.3 Independence Mine

May 10, 1899

During his time off, Hayes walks the area seeing the big mines. Stratton developed the Independence Mine and is now the richest man in the area.

Winfield Scott Stanton
Independence Mine

Ore at the Independence assays at a dollar a pound; so rich, that the miners earn more from “high-grading” the ore than from their wages. They sneak it out in lunchboxes and specially designed jackets with hidden pockets. John Fuller, a pal to Hayes, claims he pulled a wagon up alongside a freight car and drove off with a load of high-grade ore. Hayes will seek this work when stronger – but he’ll work for the wage, not for the stealing.

11.4 Portland Mine

May 10,1899

Walking down to see the Portland Mine, Hayes can see that tighter security prevents the men from stealing ore at this mine. Stratton, owner of the Independence Mine, winks at miners high-grading ore – though any who tried to steal a crust of bread would find a jail cell – in Stratton’s mind, any worker who picks up the ore has some unspoken right to it. However, Stratton’s lax policies will soon change; Hayes says Stratton is scheduled to sell the Independence Mine in August to an English company for $11,000,000. The thrifty Brits know how to punish a pilferer.

11.5 Strong Mine

May 10,1899

Security is high at the Strong Mine too. Hayes enjoys these long walks away from the squalid towns. For him, a ten or twenty mile hike through the mountains describes a pleasant day off.

11.6  Cripple Creek

May 16, 1899

Back at work in the eatery in Victor, Herman the cook has quit Charley the German to open his own place in Cripple Creek. Hayes signs on with Herman. “Better pay too, paid every night.” Herman sends Hayes regularly to Victor on some errand where he “improves the time” stopping round to listen to the Salvation Army preachers.

Church is a breath of fresh air after the debauch of Herman’s place that is located right in “the center of the sporting district on Myers Avenue, and is patronized by the men and women who live the sporting life.” While serving the women, Hayes cannot help but overhear their conversations; all loathe their lives and themselves. They “fling their money as freely as their bodies,” seeking solace for remorse not entirely killed by the life. Hayes hears one woman musing to another that the two might find escape by way of the Salvation Army Rescue Mission. Her “washed-out blonde,” companion cynically replies that they’ll never let a woman forget where she came from. She’ll be scrubbing floors and eating scraps. Better to stay with the business where at least there is money.

One of the men in camp brags that his uncle is the famous gunfighter Jesse James. If the bragging is true, Jesse would not be proud of this nephew, who is known in Cripple Creek as, “Slaughter-house Mike,” a prize-fighter who makes his living selling peanuts when he returns to consciousness after being knocked out every time he fights.

11.7 Redemption at Victor

May 20, 1899

No longer able to stomach the depravity at Herman’s, Hayes walks out of the place leaving money, clothes, everything he owns behind. He prays to God and flees back to Charley the German in Victor, who asks, “Shorge, mein poy, does you want your old chob back?” So Hayes is working for Charley and has the light of Jesus in his heart. “Life seems bright again.”

May 25, 1899

Hallelujah! Herman too has walked away from his bawdy “chop house” bringing three girls Hayes knew from Cripple Creek along to try the mission. Herman is back at work alongside Hayes and Charley the German beams to have his two best workers back. Hayes notes that Herman’s effort to rise, are somewhat suspect as he is living with one of the girls “without benefit of the clergy,” but he sees also that Herman is genuinely sheepish about his “venture in Cripple Creek.”

June 12, 1899

A number of Hayes’ mates from around the area: John Fuller, Howard Speke, John Daniels, and Fred Sidler, all came over to the mission as well. Daniels joined the army to fight in the Philippines. Sidler still drinks heavily, but they are good lads. Hayes believes that no one likes the dissipate life of the camps but all follow the herd and are afraid of ridicule should they try for better.

July 4, 1899

None in this rough town has ever seen measles before, so when Hayes’ comes down with a case, a smallpox panic ensues until the doctor can have a close look at him. While in the hospital recovering, a young nurse scolds Hayes for infecting her with measles making her miss the town dance celebrating Independence Day.

11.8 Violence in Victor, in the Ring and the Union

July 4, 1899

Nothing in the bible enjoins against watching a prizefight on the day celebrating a nation’s independence. Kid McCoy is the most graceful boxer Hayes has ever seen, but two clumsy welter weights nearly kill each other – seven knockdowns in the final round – and, bible or no, Hayes has seen enough of prize fighting.

Charles “kid McCoy
1899

July 15, 1899

With few dollars in his pocket, Hayes longs for the sea again. His once-redeemed friends John Fuller and Howard Speke are back to stealing ore, and one of the girls left the mission for a gambler.

Because all the mineworkers are unionized, Hayes ponied up the dues without realizing a bribe was expected as well. He won’t pay a bribe, so is always passed over for mine work. On top of the graft, a couple of local organizers Bill Haywood and Harry Orchard lead the workers in violent strikes. “They make no bones about having blown up the station at Independence, where twenty–three people were killed , most of them non-miners and even some women and children.” Hayes remarks, “I don’t think much of unionism, if that is what it means.”

July 27, 1899

Cripple Creek, this roaring boomtown, draws some distinguished names including James Jefferies, world boxing champion, and William Jennings Bryan, Democratic candidate for president. After the carnage at the McCoy fight, Hayes passes on Jefferies. He listens to Bryan impressed by the magnetism but not the logic.

James Jackson Jefferies

William Jennings Bryan

11. 9 “It’s All Over.”

July 27, 1899

Jimmy Doyle’s Portland mine produces $90,000 a month. Much goes for booze to his cronies. Winfield Stratton’s money from the Independence goes to “spiritualists and other strange ideals.” Still, though, Stratton is a kind man and tries to do well.

August 11, 1899

Hayes’ friend Fred Sidler sticks with the mission but still wrestles with the bottle. Many of the unreformed in the “sporting life” use stronger drugs to calm their broken nerves. A steady hand at the table exacts a high toll the next morning and the descent is swift. “It doesn’t take long for them to reach bottom. Those who have the nerve end it with a bullet or with poison, but many cling to what remains of life to the very end. These are pitiable in the extreme, especially the women.”

September 1, 1899

“It’s all over.” Victor has burned to the ground. A “dance hall siren in the Dewey” knocked over the heater for her hair curler and “eleven and a half blocks went up in smoke.” At the Gold Coin mine, in the center of the fire, the last man out tied the whistle open and let it blow until the boiler exploded in the flames. The damage estimate is $2,000,000. Hayes saved all his possession overlooking only his razor strap. Fred Sidler rescued all the chairs and the organ from the mission then drowned his sorrows with a rowdy bunch mourning amidst the ashes.

Victor Fire 1899

The fire provides a good excuse for Hayes to leave. He plans to go first back to the harvest fields of Washington… then maybe to Australia… or to Paris for the World’s Fair… Maybe.

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2 Responses to 11. Cripple Creek and Victor

  1. Another great post. I really enjoy your blog very much. I have been lucky enough to travel my whole life. The experiences you have traveling can be amazing.

    Useful Travel and Vacation Tips

    • johnmmartin says:

      Thanks Easy. Working through the amazing travels of my “Uncle” Hayes makes me want to go see some of the out of the way places he describes too.

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