Crawford Grave

Number of Burials: 1

According to an article in the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph (October 25, 1969, page 18C) Emma Crawford came to Manitou Springs with her mother in the late 1880s. The young woman suffered from tuberculosis, and Manitou was famous for its "cure."

She was engaged to be married to a man named Hildebrand or Hiltbrand, who was a civil engineer helping to build the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad. They planned on being married as soon as Emma recovered. Emma and her mother lived in a home on Ruxton Avenue, where she could see Red Mountain, south of the town. The Crawfords were spiritualists who believed they each had an Indian guide, and one day Emma believed she saw her guide beckoning to her from the top of Red Mountain. Despite her condition, she climbed the peak and tied a scarf to a small tree at the top to prove she'd been there.

Emma died a few days before her wedding date, in the summer of 1890, and her fiance attempted to fulfill her wish that she be buried at the summit of Red Mountain. Unable to obtain a deed, he recruited 12 men (one of whom, Bill Crosby, was interviewed for the article) to carry her casket to the top of the peak and buried her there anyway. After that, Crosby said so many spiritualists climbed the peak to wait for her spirit that they wore a trail.

In 1912, her casket was moved to the south slope of the mountain when the Louisville and Nashville Railroad decided to build an incline railroad (which later failed) to the summit. In August 1929, heavy rains washed out the gravelly slope in which she was interred and two boys found her skull exposed. Her bones were collected and deposited in the Manitou City Hall. According to the 1969 article, they gathered dust there for two years while officials vainly tried to find family members. Then Crosby reburied her remains in Manitou's Crystal Valley Cemetery, although she doesn't have a marker. The 1929 articles suggests the reburial was imminent, but doesn't explicitly state she was reburied then.

This reburial is recorded in Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph articles of August 6, 1929, page 2; August 7, 1929, page 14; and August 16, 1929, page 6. The 1969 article includes a photo of Emma and the group of men who carried her coffin to the top of the mountain.

In 1994 an annual coffin race was launched in Manitou Springs in honor of Emma Crawford. Usually held the Saturday before Halloween, the race draws people dressed as Emma who are pushed in makeshift "coffins" on wheels by teams competing for fun and glory on Manitou Avenue.