I don’t know what it is about Halloween and fall that makes me want to go back and revisit the past but in doing that, I realized I have several pieces that really fit the need for the strange, creepy, and odd for this time of year. Here’s one in case you missed it.


(A revisit to a post published a few years ago.)


Over the past few years my husband has endured a long commute from our home to his work in Colorado Springs. To make life easier, we will relocate to a small town nearby. Now this isn’t just any town, this is QUITE a town.

 Manitou Springs got its start by catering to the tuberculosis sufferer of the Nineteenth Century. Emma Crawford and her family (practicing Spiritualists) relocated there in 1889 seeking relief for Emma through the mineral springs and mountain air. Young Emma was engaged to a railroad engineer, William Hildebrand. Legend has it that one day she hiked to the top of Red Mountain where her spirit guide appeared. She tied a red scarf to a tree and later it became her dying wish to be buried there. Emma never married William. She died on Dec.4th, 1891 at the age of nineteen.


Her fiancé and a dozen others carried Emma’s coffin to the top of Red Mountain where they buried her fulfilling Emma’s request. Emma’s grave became a popular hiking location for other Spiritualists throughout the next couple of decades. In 1912, the railroad removed her remains and re-interred her on the south side of the mountain. Heavy rains in August of 1929 unearthed her coffin and sent it careening down Red Mountain. Her bones were discovered 7200 feet down in a canyon. Emma was eventually reburied in Crystal Valley Cemetery in an unmarked grave. And that could be the end of the story, but it’s not.


Remember, I told you, Manitou is a different kind of place. Enter the quirky creativity and entrepreneurial instincts of this town’s folks.  Around Halloween each year the town celebrates The Emma Crawford Festival with a parade and coffin races. The coffin races feature a team of five (one person plays Emma and the other four act as pallbearers and push the coffin). Creativity and speed both play a role in judging the races. There are also prizes for best Emma and best coffin. It’s quite a spectacle and a great day out for family fun. Not your thing? That’s OK. There’s always the fruitcake toss early next year.

I have since learned that Emma’s Wake is held each year at Miramont Castle in the center of Manitou Springs. Rustle up some Victorian funerary garb for this event!


Filed under Halloween, Spooky stuff

19 responses to “HALLOWEEN ODDITIES

  1. Hello Ellis, thanks for the like and your post is an excellent story well told. Life not only goes on but blossoms! Best wishes, Filippo del mondo


  2. Reblogged this on zodiacimmortal and commented:


  3. When I lived in Colorado Springs we went to Manitou Springs a lot, it is a very unusual place, so Coffin Races don’t surprise.


  4. Coffin races? Now that’s one I’ve never heard of before……….LOL


  5. Really interesting story! I wonder if Ms. Crawford knew what an impact her death and burial would have on the community throughout the decades.


  6. There really is no end to human eccentricity…loved this story, Ellis. Thanks for sharing it.


  7. Hi.. Thanks Ellis for the very interesting story, which I enjoyed so much reading and the fact that while looking at the photo of Emma, I felt very drawn to paint her portrait and include it in my mixmedia projects…
    Please forgive me, but as for hallowing celebrations, I find it very sad that sociaty has made such a business with something that, if only one would meditate in the real origins and meaning of hollowing, it’s not way that human kind will keep celebrating such a thing… I am not religious, I am a spiritual being walking in the path of self-awareness and awakening consciously and to learn also about the coffin race it makes me very sad that such a celebration even existed… Please forgive me all for not agreeing with you in these matter, but we are all different kinder souls, aren’t we…
    Love and light always


  8. How interesting! I have heard of the coffin races in that area (I have family near Co Springs) but I wasn’t aware of the story behind the racing. 🙂


  9. Now this is something I would like to see. Thank you for blogging about it!


  10. Sounds like ghoulish fun. I’d like to more about Emma. How did she climb the mountain with TB? sd


  11. Our first dog was named Manitou! I was reading a book about an indian spirit (Manitou) that grew in some guy’s neck. Manny was a sweet Old English Sheepdog with a loving, happy spirit 🙂

    Interesting story, thanks for sharing!


  12. Coffin races? If only we could all be so memorialized after we’re gone. 🙂


  13. The coffin races sound so fun! I love unique historical traditions like that


  14. Love this! I have been really focusing on all things Halloween as well 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s