Monday, October 31, 2011

Emma Crawford Coffin Race

The two pooches are still adjusting to one another.

On Friday morning, I woke up to sunny blue skies (are you picking up on the recurring theme?) and a mission - to hike up Red Mountain. Why Red Mountain?  Legend has it Emma Crawford, a 19 year old in the 1890s, died of Tuberculosis was buried up at the top of the mountain. She had moved to Manitou Springs with her family as it was believed the clean mountain air and the natural water springs would cure her fatal disease. She survived a year in the mountains and met a railroad engineer who worked at Pikes Peak Cog Railroad. The two fell in love and were going to marry, except Emma passed away. Her dying wish was to be buried at the top of Red Mountain and her lover completed her request.
Her coffin was carried from town and hoisted up the steep trail and buried at the top of the mountain. Who knows her motivation, or her lovers for that matter, of why she would want to be buried up there since the top of red mountain is granular granite and somewhat unstable. Not to mention the serious burden of carrying a coffin to the summit of a mountain. Sometime later, after a serious storm, Emma's coffin was exposed and washed down the mountain. Her remains were found by two children playing in the creek below. They identified her and then reburied her in an unmarked grave in the local cemetery some years later. 
Red Mountain

From the summit of Red Mountain
It became crystal clear why someone would want to be buried on the summit of Red Mountain. The 360 degree view is breathtaking. With Pikes Peak keeping an eye on the town below, it seems like a perfect spot to spend eternity. But something about this mountain must be cursed. Not only did Emma's coffin wash down from the top, but a dance hall that was constructed as a tourist attraction, similar to the Incline, lasted less than two years. Both dogs were acting a little strange at the top too.
The only sign of something amiss, other than an abandoned foundation, was this dead tree - keeping a strange guard near the top.

Trees of this color are somewhat of an anomaly here. 

In honor of Emma Crawford and her unusual story, the city of Manitou Springs created a coffin race through the heart of town. (Just a small example of this towns flair.) Now in its 17th year, hundreds of people line the streets and watch as 50 teams race down Main, attempting to deliver their "Emma" to the line first. Of course the race is governed by a set of rules and competitors are not only judged by speed, but also by costume.
It was hard to see what exactly was happening with so many people there, but the people watching was just as enjoyable as the race itself! Yes, that's a coffin on a drag car chassis. Klassy. My question is - does this guy only drive it during Halloween? Or does he break it out on all special occasions?

Rushing at us at the speed of light, blurred by their flash of white and black polka dots, is the Dalmatian team with a bone coffin. Original, for sure! But the local fire department ruled the competition. I'm sure Emma would be proud. What a legacy, eh?

Oh, Manitou. I embrace you and all your weirdness. Well, almost all....

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