The Ghost of Emma Crawford

Jerry WalchStarred Page By Jerry Walch, 18th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>General Non-Fiction

Everyone has heard the story of the Headless Horseman of Sleep Hollow, New York, but how many of you have ever heard of the Ghost of Emma Crawford? You probably haven’t unless you’re a resident of Manitou Springs or some other community in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. She’s quite well known in my neck of the woods and we celebrate her every year with the Emma Crawford Coffin Race and Parade.

Emma Crawford Comes to Manitou Springs.

Emma Crawford and her family moved to Manitou Springs in 1899 and took up residence on Ruston Avenue. Emma came to Manitou Springs seeking a cure for her tuberculosis. The warm, dry climate and the hot mineral springs were thought to be conducive to restoring TB sufferers to health. It was believed at the time that the climate of Manitou Springs was a natural cure for TB. Emma and her mother was spiritualist and considered themselves to be guided by Native American spirits within them. That have been another factor in Emma’s decision to move to Manitou Springs too because Manitou Springs gets its name from Native American folk lore.

Emma Has A Vision.

Emma Crawford and her family moved to Manitou Springs in 1899 and took up residence on Ruston Avenue. Emma came to Manitou Springs seeking a cure for her tuberculosis. The warm, dry climate and the hot mineral springs were thought to be conducive to restoring TB sufferers to health. It was believed at the time that the climate of Manitou Springs was a natural cure for TB. Emma and her mother was spiritualist and considered themselves to be guided by Native American spirits within them. That have been another factor in Emma’s decision to move to Manitou Springs too because Manitou Springs gets its name from Native American folk lore.

Emma’s Fiancé William Hildebrandt.

William was engaged to Emma before Emma and her family moved to Manitou Springs. An engineer working for the railroad, relocated to be with Emma, but Emma passed away before they could wed. Emma died at the age of 19 on December 4, 1891. William honored her dying request and, with help of twelve other men, carried her coffin to the top of Red Mountain and buried on the exact spot she had marked with her scarf.

Emma's Grave Relocated

After many years, Emma’s grave was moved to the southern slope when a railroad was built on the mountain slope. The move lead to double trouble because Emma’s grave site was exposed to the weather and its devastating erosion and the railroad failed. With each passing year, more and more of the mountain granite eroded exposing Emma’s coffin to the elements, until August 1929 when a severe rain storm caused Emma’s coffin and her remains to slide down the side of the mountain into the town below. Here’s where Emma’s story becomes confusing. One story has it that her remains remained in storage for two years while a relative was sort. Another story has it that her remains were reburied immediately. Either way when she was reburied it was in an unmarked grave. Emma didn’t receive a grave marker until 2004, ten years after the yearly Emma Crawford memorial ceremonies begun.

The Festival

Since 1994, the city has honored Emma Crawford with an annual festival. The Emma Crawford Festival features a parade in her honor as well as the Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Race. Teams with five members each (one coffin-rider and four runners) compete in the race with wheeled coffins (Wheels can be no larger than 6 inches in diameter) and wild costumes. Creativity in design can be as important as speed in the judging of the race. Besides awards for first, second and third place in the race, there are awards for best coffin and best "Emma" (the rider). The race follows a coffin parade to show off the designs and costumes of each "Emma" and her four "mourners." The parade is led by a number of hearses.

It’s Not Too Late to Enter The Race.

This year there will be over fifty five member teams (one coffin rider and four runners) competing in the coffin race. If you would like to form a team and compete, there’s still time. Contact Floyd O’Neal by phone at 719-685-5089 or email him at Floyd@manitouchamber.com. The event is free to attend but there is a $50 registration fee for each racing team.

Tags

Coffin Race, Colrado, Emma Crawford, Manitou Springs, Parades, Red Mountain, Sanatoriums, Spritualists, Tuberculosis

Meet the author

author avatar Jerry Walch
Jerry Walch is a 71 year old freelance writer for hire living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been writing since the late 1970s, and writes for both the print and online media. He specializes in

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Comments

author avatar Connie McKinney
19th Oct 2013 (#)

Jerry, what an interesting story. That was fun to read. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
20th Oct 2013 (#)

Thank you Connie.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
19th Oct 2013 (#)

Awesome story. I may have missed it, but when is the date for this year's event?

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author avatar Jerry Walch
20th Oct 2013 (#)

Hi Mark. My bad as my grand kids would say. This years event will be held on the 26th between 12 noon and 3 PM.Anyone interested in more information can call the Manitou Springs Chamber at 800-642-2567 or 719-685-5089
They can also fax the Chamber at 719-685-0355

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
19th Oct 2013 (#)

wow how fascinating Jerry...thank you....

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author avatar Jerry Walch
20th Oct 2013 (#)

You're most welcome CN.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Oct 2013 (#)

Interesting and spooky fun! Just in time for Halloween spooks! I've been on the New Orleans Haunted House tour -- there's always so much history even in the supernatural. Great job!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
20th Oct 2013 (#)

Thank you Phyl. More to come.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
20th Oct 2013 (#)

Interesting share, thanks Jerry. Takes me to a place faraway but I can emotionally relate to this story. That means we are from the same source! siva

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author avatar Jerry Walch
20th Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks for reading and commenting Siva.

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author avatar M G Singh
20th Oct 2013 (#)

This is a lovely post Jerry. Voted up!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
20th Oct 2013 (#)

Thank you Madan.

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