Revel in the Macabre: The Emma Crawford Coffin Races

Emma Crawford did nothing in her short lifetime that would be considered legendary, nor was her unfortunate death an uncommon one. It was the events following her death that would make Emma the most famous woman in Manitou’s history.emma crawford Emma arrived in Manitou Springs, a fashionable health and summer resort, in 1889 seeking a cure for her tuberculosis. At first she prospered from Manitou’s clean mountain air, warm sunshine, dry climate, and natural mineral springs. Then one fateful day she was beckoned by her spirit guide, a handsome, young Indian brave, into climbing to the top of Red Mountain. While at the top Emma tied a scarf to a tree branch and when she returned home that evening she told her family that if she died she wished to be buried beneath the designated tree. Emma suffered a relapse and died on December 4, 1891 at age 28. Emma was buried at the top of Red Mountain according to her wishes. Shortly after the burial  it was reported that Emma was seen strolling on the mountainside dressed in her favorite gown and in the company of…an Indian brave.After the turn of the century, a cog railroad was built at the top of Red Mountain and Emma’s grave was moved to a different location on the mountain. Following decades of erosion, a particularly heavy rainfall dislodged Emma’s coffin and sent it sliding down the side of the mountain scattering fragments of the coffin and Miss Emma along the way. Eventually, Emma was buried for the third and final time in Manitou’s Crystal Valley Cemetery …but her story wasn’t quite finished….

For the past 20 years, on the last Saturday before Halloween, Manitou hosts the weird, the macabre, and the fiendishly-fun Emma Crawford Coffin Races. At the foot of her beloved Red Mountain, teams dressed in outlandish costumes compete against each other by pushing hand-built coffins…on wheels…through downtown015 Manitou. Inside each coffin is a team member dressed, of course, as Emma. Prizes are awarded for the fastest coffin, the best-decorated coffin, and the best-dressed Emma. Each year thousands of spectators line Manitou Avenue to cheer the madly-careening coffins as they race toward the finish line. Spectators are often costumed as well. With each year the event grows in size and popularity and now includes Emma’s wake, fireworks, a parade, and walking ghost tours; altogether, a fitting observance of Emma’s ride down the mountain and into local legend.

Emma Crawford Coffin Races, Oct 25, 2014
Lots of odd folk:
the creepers…. 










a flock of fairies…..




baby fairies…

021             and mommy fairies…










and more pirates…

(better look to your laurels
Johnny D) 
a flock of bumble bees….
   024026    and wee baby bumble bees                                                    
the tin man, the scarecrow & the wicked witch of the west…
030                 hearses…
& lots of folks,
in the street, on the walls,
on balconies & rooftops…
055       023
lots more to see… but never enough space…
so this is the absolute end.

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