Castles, Cartoon Heroes, and Cowboy Bands
Idaho Springs was a mining town from the beginning, and with mining, came drinking! It has been said that at one point in time, there were more taverns in town than there were homes.
Steve Canyon ~ Our Hero
Idaho Springs was recently noted as having one of Colorado’s “oddities” namely the Steve Canyon Statue. Steve Canyon, a popular World War II cartoon hero, was created by cartoonist Milton Caniff. In the 1950s, the Idaho Springs Junior Chamber of Commerce decided to run a publicity stunt by commissioning the creation of the statue. They invited the cartoonist to join them for the unveiling of Colonel Canyon. Caniff attended the ceremony.
Buffalo Bill and the Duck Inn
On January 6, 1917, Colonel Buffalo Bill Cody shared a drink with local miners in the Patten Building (now the Giggling Grizzly) when the building was called the Duck Inn. Cody was ill and en route from Glenwood Springs to his sister’s home in Denver. He died several days later. The Duck Inn became famous for being the saloon where Buffalo Bill had his last drink – a mixture of whiskey and cider called the Stone Fence.
Gem of the Mountains
If Denver is a mile high, how high is Idaho Springs? 7,543 feet. Idaho Springs had a number of names before its current one including: Jackson’s Diggings, Sacramento City and Idahoe. In 1866, Springs was added to the name. The meaning originated from the Arapahoe Indian word Edauhoe meaning Gem of the Mountains.
A Dip in the Healing Waters
One of the most popular places to visit in Idaho Springs is still the Indian Hot Springs. In 1863, Dr. E.M. Cummings bought the land and began the healing waters tourist attraction. During the first few years more than 5,000 people attended. Among the most famous: Frank and Jesse James, Sarah Berhnardt, Walt Whitman, H.A. Tabor, the Vanderbilts and the Roosevelts.
The Original Cow-Boy Band
Making their debut on Memorial Day, 1905 was the Original Cow-Boy Band. The image shown is from 1909. Band members performed in leather chaps, boots, spurs, bandanas and cowboy hats. Their band leader directed them by waving a six-shooter in the air!
In the 1880s Governor Bryan of British Columbia, a gold mine investor, built Castle Eyrie in Idaho Springs. The castle was designed after the Bryan family castle in England. Chinese laborers added unique architectural trim over the windows and doors, in keeping with their culture.
What is a Tommyknocker?
Miners working in dark and frightening surroundings, developed superstitions and tales about eery happenings in the mines. Elf-like creatures, known as Tommyknockers were believed to have been brought to Clear Creek County by the Cornish miners who came from England. Though these little people were rarely seen, they were often heard working and singing. There were two types of Tommyknockers, the mischievous ones, and the friendly ones. The mischievous ones created problems for the miners while the friendly ones helped locate the richest ore deposits. There are many tales of these long-bearded, wrinkle-faced, large-headed little men saving miners’ lives and others where they’ve been known to snuff out the light of the candles the miners worked by.
Want to learn more about the Tommyknockers and other Fun Facts? Visit our online store to purchase your copy of Tailings, Tracks and Tommyknockers – A History of Clear Creek County.