HAUNTED SHELF ROAD, CRIPPLE CREEK, COLORADO USA
High up in the Rocky Mountains there sits a tiny mining town, known as Cripple Creek, Colorado. Just outside of Cripple Creek is a dirt trail known as “Shelf Road” (its set back a bit behind the town of Cripple Creek.)
Back in the gold rush days, this [so-called] road was a rocky, steep and narrow dirt trail that was traveled by hundreds upon hundreds of stage coaches and wagons. Those coaches and wagons were filled with countless folks hoping to fulfill their dreams of getting to the mine in Cripple Creek where they were determined to strike-it-rich.
My husband and I are history-buffs/adventurers and were incredibly excited to find this road/trail. Many hundreds of people died traveling this (and many other parts of the Rocky Mountains) as it has changed very little since that time [not much wider than a driveway].
It is still very steep, rocky and very treacherous. (Having traveled it ourselves, we don’t recommend that anyone try to drive it unless you have a four-wheel drive vehicle and not in the face of impending rainy or stormy weather due to the fact that the mountain canyons can (and do) fill with rushing flash flood waters in a matter of minutes.)
We’d driven a long way down Shelf Road and I had my truck window down so that I could touch the rocks just inches away from me. Suddenly, and out of nowhere, I could hear the laughter of two small children. Their laughter danced down over the rocks as if they were playing and giggling at the same time; enjoying themselves immensely not very far above us.
I strained my neck to gaze up toward the tops of the rocks – steep, vertical rocks that went straight-up at a ninety degree angle from the ground; enormous rocks that I could reach out our RAM truck window and touch (the trail is so narrow). But, low and behold, there was absolutely no one there! (There was no way anyone could’ve accessed the area above us without elaborate, professional rock climbing equipment – sheer limestone cliffs that both towered over one-hundred feet above us and that dropped over one-hundred feet beneath us greeting us in that and in many other spots!)
At first I thought it was just some traveler’s children, but then I realized that there was absolutely no one for miles and miles from where we were. Sometime later and while processing the strange occurrence we’d just experienced, I realized that the echoing sound of the children’s laughter, had embodied a haunted-sounding ring to it.
The experience touched me deeply as I could hear the pure, elated joy in the children’s laughter yet realized that they had to have met with a tragic demise there more than a century ago; during the old gold rush frenzy that took so many innocent lives.
(Noteworthy: While driving deeper and deeper into the canyon, it was a bit cloudy and I kept experiencing this heavy foreboding feeling that it was going to flood-out – the way that mountain canyons sometimes do. One month later, a disastrous flood occurred in Colorado during which many people and animals lost their lives. In fact, we learned later that because it is such a deep canyon, many people choose not to travel Shelf Road at all.)
Copyright 2014-15 by JC Cooke-Fredlund, Author
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED