Cache Creek facing east towards Granite.
Gayle with Cache Creek in the background.
While in Granite on December 14, Deb and I stopped in at the Granite Peddler and asked how to get to Cache Creek. This is the mining camp where Wilburn and Elizabeth Christison first settled in Colorado in 1861. The man in the store told us to take Lost Canyon road behind the store. Now, I had seen the road and had no intention of driving up the one-lane road winding around the side of the mountain. When I was a child, my Dad liked to go 4-wheeling in his Scout. One of my memories includes me screaming in the back seat for my Dad to let me out. I never liked the feeling of the Scout tilting sideways with a drop-off down the mountain. But Deb said we should go and if I wouldn’t drive, she would. Reluctantly, I turned the truck up the road and held onto the steering wheel for dear life. Thankfully, the road never tilted and before long we were at the top looking at a sign that read “Granite Cemetery.” Cache Creek lay below us.
With the frigid wind howling from the north and patches of snow around us, we walked through the cemetery. I believe one of Wilburn and Elizabeth’s sons is buried there. 10-year-old Boone Christison died August 13, 1864 at “Cash Creek.” As many as 70 graves are unmarked in the cemetery and there are no written records. Deb and I walked down the trail towards the creek, watching for signs of where cabins stood. Reaching the creek, I stood speechless picturing Wilburn standing in the creek, leaning over a gold pan as he swirled the water and sand watching for small nuggets. I turned and pictured the cabin where Elizabeth cared for their six children. What was it like for Elizabeth to be the only woman in the mining camp? I smiled as I pictured the children running and playing with the Ute Indian children, as Ernest had related to his granddaughter.
After an hour of wandering around, Deb and I hiked back up the mountain to the truck. The euphoria I felt lasted as I drove down the valley. It was amazing to walk along the creek, see the frozen water, and feel the same icy cold wind Wilburn and his family felt when they lived there. Later, I got out of my truck at Salida and looked down to see the brown dirt that fell from my shoes. I caught a glimpse of sparkling specks in it and realized I was walking around with Cache Creek gold dust on my shoes. Perfect for the granddaughter of three generations of gold miners.
For more on the history of Cache Creek click here