A Solution to a Problem at Cherry Creek
   Jerry Bowen, 1999

The owners of the mines surrounding Cherry Creek had a major problem in 1920, especially after payday. The hard life of a miner demanded relaxation in one form or another as a release from the dangerous rigors of their profession. Much of that relaxation came in the form of the "Ladies of the Line."

The problem grew after the decline in the fortunes of mining at Cherry Creek. The ladies had all left and had not returned when the mines reopened. Ely was prospering and of course that's where the desired relaxation was centered. Upwards of fifty percent of the miners at Cherry creek would hit the road for Ely after getting paid and usually didn't return for an average of four days. Additionally, it was a long trip in those days of the rickety Model-T and altogether too often the revelers never made it to their destination as they raced to be first on the line or drank too much. Many were injured or killed on the road in the quest for recreation.

Cherry Creek commerce suffered because so much of the available money was being squandered in Ely. In addition, "shotgun" marriages were on the increase because the few men who did remain in town saw to it that the local maidens were not ignored.

Tough problems often demand tough decisions and Frank Crampton was just the man to make the right choices. Shortly after being hired to manage the Exchequer mine he recognized the dilemma and decided to do something about it. 

Frank was a practical man and had no compunctions about what he had to do; bring the prostitutes to Cherry Creek. He made arrangements with the "important personages of Ely who had close and intimate connections with dance halls, parlor houses, and cribs" as he put it in his autobiography, Deep enough.

In his book he wrote, "When the necessary arrangements had been made for six girls to come to the Exchequer, I fixed up one of the bunkhouses with rooms for rent, set up a small bar, put in a piano, and had the floor polished for dancing. Soon the rooms were rented, the girls paid for room and board, and ate with the stiffs in the cookhouse. No stiff was permitted to drink within eight hours of his going on shift, and even so his drinking was limited. None of the girls was permitted to charge anything for the relaxing entertainment they might offer. There was no restriction, however, on the stiffs' making monetary gifts so that diamonds could be purchased should any of the girls want to waste her money on such baubles."

Of course, there were some people in town that became upset to the point that they even threatened to tar and feather Crampton and ride him out of town on a rail.

After the operation went into effect, local business increased, fewer men wound up in the hospital or pushing up daisies and the town settled down into a more pleasant routine. The mines profited and even the ladies of the line gained in an unexpected turn of events. Many of them ended up married to their customers. . . and shotguns were no longer necessary.

Last Updated on 07/10/2001



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