Cripple Creek got off to a slow start. For many years the area, at an elevation of about 11,000 feet, near the timberline, was considered no more than cattle pasture. It was even the site of a hoax, the Mount Pisgah Fiasco, a salted location which created a mini gold rush but where no ore was found ("salting" is putting a bit of rich ore in a worthless site). But in 1891 rich ore was found and the last great Colorado gold rush was on.
Thousands of prospectors flocked to the mountains, including W. S. Stratton, who located the fabulous Independence Mine. The gold-bearing area was the core of an ancient volcano of six square miles. Cripple Creek is in the 39 Mile Volcanic Field. Free gold was found near the surface but at depth unoxidized tellurides and sulphides were found. However to keep the ore flowing, Governor James Peabody on November 23, 1903 sent the state militia into Cripple Creek to break up a miners' strike. But by 1935 half a billion dollars in gold, most figured at the price of $20 an ounce, had been extracted. At the turn of the century Cripple Creek and its sister city, Victor, were substantial towns.
There were serious labor problems, perhaps the worst in Colorado history, and eventually the mines played out, although, the Cripple Creek District remains a viable location. Almost all the claims have been consolidated and open pit mining is a possiblity.
The population dropped to a few hundred, and with their many empty storefronts and picturesque homes Cripple Creek and Victor were tourist attractions as ghost towns. Toward the end of the twentieth century casino gambling was authorized in Cripple Creek, and this venture has been successful.
As of the census of 2000, there are 1,115 people, 494 households, and 282 families residing in the city. The population density is 381.0/km² (988.7/mi²). There are 737 housing units at an average density of 251.8/km² (653.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 92.29% White, 0.90% African American, 2.15% Native American, 0.81% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 1.43% from other races, and 2.42% from two or more races. 6.01% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 494 households out of which 23.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% are married couples living together, 7.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 42.9% are non-families. 30.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 4.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.26 and the average family size is 2.82.
In the city the population is spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 30.2% from 45 to 64, and 8.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 104.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 100.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $39,261, and the median income for a family is $41,685. Males have a median income of $27,600 versus $25,000 for females. The per capita income for the city is $19,607. 6.4% of the population and 4.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 3.8% are under the age of 18 and 6.1% are 65 or older.