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Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad the beginnings

The Cripple Creek Gold Mining District, destined to be the world’s richest gold camp, had a slow start. Early in the gold boom, rough trails and wagon roads were the only way to the mining district. Horse-drawn wagons carried gold or 20 miles north of Cripple Creek to the Colorado Midland Railroad for shipment to smelters in Pueblo and Denver. Wagons were so costly and slow that only the richest ore left the district. Cripple Creek needed modern transportation.

In 1894, the race was on to bring rail service to the mining district. From the south, the tracks of the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad, the F&CC, climbed through rugged Phantom Canyon. The F&CC was a narrow gauge railroad; the distance between the rails was three feet. This made construction through the rugged terrain easier and faster.

On May 27, 1894, the first passenger train of the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad climbed up Phantom Canyon to the town of Victor. The F&CC won the race to the mining district connecting Cripple Creek with the modern world. For 18 months, the F&CC enjoyed a virtual monopoly on rail transportation in and around the mining district.

Listen to a narrative about Phantom Canyon: