A Solution to a Problem at Cherry
Jerry Bowen, ©
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 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.
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
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
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
Last Updated on 07/10/2001