I told you about The Cripple Creek Cemetery yesterday, well, I guess you could say I am on a roll here, and today, I want to show you an amazing wonder for the eye to behold. What I want to show you today, is a real example of survival of the fittest.
Donkeys played a key part of the backbreaking work of hard rock mining in the early days. They aided much to the boom of the Gold Rush by hauling ore from the mountains for countless of hours at at time.
Now, these animals were not your fresh off the farm livestock, they were a tough breed, able to work hours at a time, and demanded to repeat the process the next day by the miners themselves. They were used above and below ground to move the gold and silver laden ore.
When the mines played out and the miners moved on, the donkeys were abandoned, sometimes left below in the mines. The ones who returned to nature and survived, reproduced and a wild herd has lived in the area ever since. Steve remembers going to Cripple Creek as a young boy with his family on vacation, and the donkeys were there in the early 1960's and they are still going strong today.
It is amazing to see these beautiful creatures who are the direct descendants of the hard working mining donkeys of the Gold Rush Days.
If you will stop and think for a moment, just how smart and resourceful these donkeys are. I mean, they know how to open fences to allow their burro friends access to all the best food grounds in town.
All it takes is a slip of the latch, and they are home free. My daughter was able to capture these photos on a visit to Cripple Creek. She felt so sorry for the owners of the house, as it looked like they had just planted fresh flowers and that is really what the donkey's had their eyes set on.
I asked her if she tried to stop them from entering the yard, and she just smiled and said, "of course not"!
It did not take long for the locals to follow suit behind the leaders. So much for hard work ethics...seems with time, that part might have slipped somewhat over the decades and they are a little more eager for someone else to do the work for them.
Before long, it was a full blown party.....dinner party that is. And if you will notice, no unhappy homeowner in sight.
I guess after all those years of forging for themselves in the wild, the donkey's have become resourceful in finding food or treats without having to put forth too much effort.
During the winter months, The Mile High Club rounds up the donkey's and moves them to a pasture to be fed and cared for during the long winter months. But come spring, they are returned to their mountains and town to roam at will.
And don't think for one minute, they are shy about asking for a handout...no way are they shy....I think they know a car means tourist and tourist means food!
During the spring through the fall months, you can drive in any direction around town and almost always spot some of the herd. I wonder if the people who live there now think of these wonderful creatures as a nuisance or do they see the link to the past...to the good ole days of Cripple Creek.
The long forgotten mountain dwellings of the Gold Rush days are almost just that, a forgotten image. The weather conditions along with time itself, have deteriorated most all the old wooden structures in the area.
It is nice to think mother nature has stood the test of time and the descendants of the wonderful mining donkeys are still going strong today, after all these years. That to me is a true testament of the fighting, hardworking spirit the mining donkeys must have possessed all those years ago.
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