The Life & Times of Emma Crawford

Published: September 27, 2021

Emma Crawford, lady and legend

When a global pandemic is not our greatest fear,
Look for the return of Emma Crawford Coffin Races next year.
In the meantime, “Who was Emma Crawford?” do I hear?

She was a local of Manitou—born a year past 1862.

Atop Red Mountain she was buried,
But washed away down main street she was carried.

To honor the legend, as townies and tourists do,
We dress in costume racing coffins down the avenue.

Four mourners to a casket and one Emma in toe,
They hurdle towards the bottom—come rain, sun or snow.

But who is the lady and who is the legend,
If you’re here for a story—your ear I shall bend.

Ill since the age of seven,
Emma moved here with her mother in search of heaven.

It was said that the mineral springs were healing,
And could cure disease and an unwell feeling.

Tuberculosis or consumption,
Whatever may be your presumption,
Emma remained in Manitou,
With fresh air and cloudy days a few.

And as all tragedies too often go,
She fell in love with a man from the metro.

A New York engineer was Mr. William Hildebrand,
Employed by the cog railroad—he asked for her hand.  

One day, as Emma gazed up towards the sky,
A handsome Indian beckoned from atop Red Mountain high.

She vowed to climb the mountain and meet her guide,
As for this plot—her loved ones were not on her side.

But firm in her resolve as no one could stop,
She snuck away and climbed Red Mountain to the top.

She tied her scarf to a pinon tree and left her trace,
Claiming this peak as her future resting place.

For Emma, death arrived in December 1891.
And her wish to be buried under the warmth of the sun,
Was honored by her betrothed,
Though securing a deed had been left undone. 

A group of twelve pallbearers in two shifts,
Carried Emma to the top as their last, parting gift.

Buried beneath an old, wind-swept tree,
They covered the grave with loose gravel which broke free.

You see, after 40 years of rain and sleet and snow,
Emma descended into the mountain town below. 

And from her voyage down the peak,
Only a bundle of bones and skull of which to speak.

In 1929, a new grave would be dug for the deceased,
So the spirit of Emma Crawford might rest in peace. 

A celebrated local of our little mountain town,
Don’t be surprised if you still see her around.

And if you wish to honor the legend and these words,
Celebrate with us—the Spirit of Emma Crawford.

Can’t Miss Fall Events in Manitou Springs, Colorado
A party that's to die for

Celebrate the Spirit of Emma Crawford

This year, we’re celebrating The Lady & The Legend in style—complete with a hearse parade through downtown Manitou Springs, food and beverage vendors, live music in Soda Springs Park, door prizes and costume contests! Tickets are frighteningly limited, so grab yours before they’re gone!

Event Schedule
Little ghouls & pets

Kids 10 and under are free, but please get them a ticket to attend. Your 4 legged kids & fam members are allowed to attend, but please keep them leashed at all times so we don’t need to ask you to leave the good times in the park!

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