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Sampler: Cripple Creek Mining District


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Cripple Creek, CO - Nov 1896 (p.16) Cripple Creek, CO - Nov 1896
Cripple Creek Mining District

Fire insurance maps documented more than America's great cities. Some small towns were mapped more frequently than the big cities, and some places with very short lives were captured in great detail. Many mining towns in the West fall into this category. Cripple Creek is one of the better-known mining communities in Colorado, and the fire insurance map of the town from 1896 depicts the aboveground structures that supported most of the major mines. Sheet 16, the one reproduced here, is an excellent example of how the different types of cartographic materials complement each other, for many of the structures illustrated in the margins of the panoramic map of Cripple Creek were mapped by the Sanborn Map Company.

Graphic detail of a bird's eye view Cripple 
			Creek Mining District
Graphic detail of a bird's eye view Cripple Creek Mining District

The fire insurance maps of Cripple Creek highlight the importance of this style of cartography to historical studies. Like many mining towns, Cripple Creek grew rapidly after its founding in 1892. The enormous wealth that flowed out of its mine shafts caused the population to swell with people eager to make their fortunes from mining or from providing services to those who did its hard work. A town is more rapidly built with wood than with more durable or fire-resistant materials. The city grew faster than the infrastructure necessary to ensure the safety of such a community, and in 1906 two fires within days of each other destroyed much of the town. Most of Cripple Creek as depicted on this 1896 fire insurance map completely disappeared. The mines which lay outside of town were not destroyed by the fires, but they too largely disappeared once the town went into economic decline in the early part of the twentieth century. Buildings that supported the mining operations were torn down and their lumber used for new structures elsewhere.

Gary L. Fitzpatrick


Baltimore and Ohio Railroad| Bethlehem Steel| Chicago Union Stockyards| Cripple Creek| John Deere| Ebbets Field| Ford Motor Company| Ryman Auditorium | Tuskegee Institute| Waikiki


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  August 9, 2010
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