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Spring Creek Cemetery

Date Photographed: June 7, 2001
Marked Burials: 1
Volunteer: Linda Vixie
Special Thanks: Jan Collins, Cripple Creek District Museum

To find the remains of Spring Creek Cemetery, from the town of Florissant on Highway 24 drive south on Teller County Road 1 approximately 13.6 miles and turn left onto Anges Road. Follow it for 1.1 miles and turn right at Troy Drive; follow it for 1.4 miles and turn left at Copper Mountain Drive. When you reach the T intersection of Copper Mountain Drive and Monarch Drive, park. South of the T on private property is a pasture with a disintegrating log cabin.

The cemetery is in a grove of aspen trees about 150 feet behind the cabin. On foot, follow the old road up the hill and past the cabin on the left. The cemetery is visible south of a fork in the old road. The original wooden fence is falling down, but the cemetery (about 6 yards by 5 yards) has been fenced again with iron posts and barbed wire. According to GPS-derived geolocation (accurate to within 10 meters), the cemetery's coordinates are 3846'16.6"N and 10510'50.9"W.

The single remaining tombstone reads (first name and middle initial are on top of marker):

Lloyd L.
Abby
born
Mar. 21, 1890
died
Jan. 25, 1896

Cemetery is in trees up hill behind cabin ruins Solitary marker remains in disintegrating cemetery

 

Spring Creek: A Forgotten Suburb of Cripple Creek

2002 by Jan MacKell

Looking at the Cripple Creek District today, it's hard to imagine the area once comprised about 40 boom camps, towns, and cities. Not all of them were large, and not all of them lasted very long. Some served as stage and railroad stops, while others blossomed into large and important cities. For the forgotten town of Spring Creek, mining and the dairy business served this short-lived but sturdy little town.

Located roughly six miles from Cripple Creek on the outskirts of Cripple Creek Mountain Estates, Spring Creek had its beginnings with several mining claims in the area. The tiny hamlet was located along its namesake creek in a pleasant and quiet valley. A short row of neat houses lined both sides of the main street, which snaked pleasantly along the creek and through a lush and fertile valley. Spring Creek was referred to often in Cripple Creek, even though it was located nearly two miles from town.

The town never had a post office. If it had, Jacob Abby most likely would have been the postmaster. Abby and his wife, Josephine, operated a dairy and small farm at Spring Creek, along with Mr. and Mrs. Ed Neppel. The name of this dairy is lost to history, but it is known that at least two such businesses operated in the area. In spite of his partnership with Neppel, it is Jake Abby who is most mentioned in a handful of notes about Spring Creek and its all but forgotten cemetery. Of the few scattered buildings that represent what was Spring Creek, the cemetery is perhaps the most intriguing. Well hidden in the trees and located now on private property, the graveyard is said to contain as many as 16 graves.

Two sources state the cemetery was established in 1893, and that the Abbys' three children areburied there. It is said the children died of a contagious disease, but even old-timers disagree on what the illness was. Only one marble headstone remains to tell a sad, albeit interesting tale: that of Lloyd L. Abby, who died on January 25, 1896, at the age of five. His legacy was a mining claim his father had staked in his name. In 2002, Peggy Thomas, a granddaughter of Jake and Josie Abby, said that two other siblings of Lloyd buried here are Clare "Nugget" Abby (born October 23, 1892, died January 18, 1896) and baby Hazel Abby (born September 1, 1894, died December 23, 1894).

Also located near the Little Lloyd lode are the Little Annie, Little Ellen, Little Emma, Little Jessie, and the Little Mary, any of whom may or may not have been Abby children. As for the true number of graves in the Spring Creek cemetery, locals who spent time rambling the area as teenagers recall seeing five or six wooden headstones. Some also remember an ornate wrought iron fence around the graveyard.

The Spring Creek Cemetery is located at a crossroads, with several old roads leading from it.Two main trails ended at what is now Highway 67 and Cripple Creek. It is the latter road that Jacob Abby and Ed Neppel likely took to sell their dairy products in town. Fresh eggs, milk, cheese, and butter were first-class commodities in the Cripple Creek District.

Jacob Abby appears to have first come to Spring Creek in 1897, as the partial owner of several mining claims. By 1899, Abby had extensive dealings with several mines in the district, including the Hermosa Gold Mining Company. Jake and Josie Abby lived in Spring Creek in 1900, the only year the town appears in district directories. One source states 15 families lived at Spring Creek, but the directory sports a whopping 42 listings. Few were women. Among the men were Fred Desplaines, owner of the Union Dairy, and Charles Warner, owner of the Midway Dairy. Jacob Abby is listed as a carpenter. Spring Creek was also home to no less than 23 miners. Their children attended a little schoolhouse on the south slope of Copper Mountain. Miss Alberta Smith, of Cripple Creek, taught classes there in 1900.

In 1901, Abby sold an interest in the Little Lloyd lode to John H. Hobbs. After that, news of Spring Creek and the Abbys becomes scant. There is no record of Jacob Abby or his family after 1911, but the family was listed as living in nearby Gillett in the 1920 census. Despite the family's departure, other people appear to have continued living at Spring Creek for at least a couple of decades. From 1954 to the 1960s there were still several cabins at Spring Creek. Most of them were dismantled or moved into Cripple Creek. One of them is thought to be located near Golden and B Street. Back at Spring Creek, the few remaining buildings have silently fallen into decay.