Emma Crawford moved to Manitou Springs in 1889 with her mother and fiance in hopes that the famous Mineral Springs would help with a cure for her tuberculosis. Sadly, in the summer of 1890 Emma died quite young, just before she was to marry Mr. William Hildebrand, an engineer on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Her wishes were to be laid to rest on top of Red Mountain. Her fiancee and eleven other men began the arduous task her carrying Emma’s coffin up to the top of Red Mountain. It took them all day, working two shifts to scale the 7200 foot summit. After years of stormy weather on the granite mountain, the granite gave way and Emma’s remains were washed down the side of Red Mountain. Emma was later buried in the Manitou Springs Cemetery in an unmarked grave. An official grave site was granted to her in 2004 to honor her life. Emma supposedly still haunts Red Mountain to this day.
In honor of Emma, Manitou Springs hosts a local parade and coffin races each year. Participants bling out their coffins, dress as Emmas and other ghoulish characters, march in the parade, and then race down Manitou Avenue in one of the most popular events of the year, which have been featured numerous times on the Travel Channel and in Newsweek. A wake in Emma’s honor is also held at Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs the night before the races.
This year’s 17th annual events take place October 28-29, 2011, as follows:
Emma’s Wake: Friday, October 28th from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs. Reservations Required.
Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade: Saturday, October 29th from 12:00pm – 3:00pm on Manitou Avenue, downtown Manitou Springs, Colorado. Parade begins and Noon and the Races immediately follow.