Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where Wild Donkeys Roam....Still to This Day!!

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.


  1. WOW. That is amazing... and I think after being abandoned in mines, they have a right to a few flowers here and there...


  2. I really enjoyed yesterday's post and today's was great too! I hadn't realized that they'd just abandoned those animals in the mines. I think it's neat that the herd is allowed to just roam and do what it pleases (though that flower planter might not agree *L*).

  3. Suzanne, What a great story and pictures. Animals do have a way of surviving if we help them just a little. Thanks for sharing that story, I really did enjoy it.

  4. Thanks, Suzanne, I learned a lot today! Very interesting...and those donkeys are just the cutest!

  5. I love their furry little faces and what wonderful pictures of them especially the car one. What a special place.

    The Raggedy Girl

  6. Glad you shared this with us. You took me back to another time, that I enjoyed very much. Hope I get to go back once more. You put the article together very well.

  7. Have you ever been to Oatman, AZ? Donkeys roam the streets there. Very cool!

  8. That sure is incredible that the donkeys are still around! And what a great story to go with it! Great post!

    I have seen the wild horses in North Carolina. I don't know their story. hehehe

    I never thought about wild donkeys.


  9. that is wild!
    wonderful pictures too-

    suzzanne, i must be blind if it is on here some where- but if not, could you please send me your email address?

  10. My Aunt's gift shop in Cripple Creek was called "The Little Lode Gift Shop." (May still be for all I know, but she no longer owns it) Did you happen to know of the shop, or of my Aunt, Janet Hubby?

    Just wondering - - -

  11. Thanks for tipping me off to this post. I love it. I'd heard of a town in AZ where a burro herd is allowed to roam, but didn't know about Cripple Creek. I just can't get enough of these guy. Long live the beloved burro.

  12. How cool is this?!!! I loved this story and never knew the little burros were there--wish I could have seen one----Good pictures---!Alish did a great job---I love the one sticking his head in the car window.

  13. Oh My Goodness! That is one big donkey party in that yard! This was such an interesting post. Thanks for sharing this. laurie

  14. 1Gorgeous photos! Very unique story, thanks :)

  15. Thank you for sharing your experience with us! Great post! We have deer here that do the same things but donkeys???????? wow!
    :) Thanks Suzanne!

  16. Thanks for the story - we saw the donkeys and also buffalo roaming in Colorado and Wyoming when on vacation years ago! The pregnant mommies were collecting "TOLL" with each car that drove down the road - sticking their muzzles in to get a paycheck of bread or crackers - as a horse lover, I adored the donkeys - anything equine!

  17. Good morning Suzanne...you are such a good story writer! I'm just "itching" to get to Colorado & to stay in your cabin!! I think you ought to post about your rental cabin so everybody can think about going there this summer...Hugs, ;-) Bo

  18. Suzanne,
    We went up to Cripple Creek a few years ago, and it was funny to see them roaming around the town. One casino owner even told us they had one push through the doors and walk right into the casino and stand there, watching everyone on the slots. Too funny!

  19. Great post! Now this is something I would not have known if I had not read it here. I think it is neat how we learn about things from each other.


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