Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Races & Festival

Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Races & Festival
October 28, 2000
Manitou Avenue & Downtown
Manitou Springs, Colorado, USA

What’s more morbid than a mortician’s convention yet more fun than Mardi Gras? Why, it’s the Emma Crawford Festival! The town of Manitou Springs comes “alive” with everything from coffin races to a Parade of Coffins, and a whole lot more.

Even if the name “Emma Crawford” doesn’t ring a bell, her story is sure to make you break out your hanky.

At the turn of the century, young tuberculosis-ridden Emma came to Manitou Springs looking for a cure. During her stay, she became a little “touched,” and got obsessed with the local Red Mountain-so obsessed that she was convinced that she saw an Indian guide waiting for her at the top. She managed to drag her way to the summit of Red Mountain, and she thought it was so beautiful that she made a very important decision. When she died, there was nowhere else in the world that she wanted to be buried but at the top of this mountain. And die she did-just before she was to be wed. Her begrieved fiance fulfilled Emma’s great wish and placed her restfully high upon the Mountain. She was only moved once, to make way for the building of a casino (with a good view, no doubt)!

But how was Emma to know that after many years and many storms, the earth would give way around her new home? Just a few years ago, the poor lass, still in her coffin (with nameplate attached!), washed all the way down the side of the mountain, and was found by two local boys. They took her to City Hall where she remained for two years, while officials searched in vain for her descendants. Finally, she was buried in an unmarked grave in the Manitou Springs cemetery. Apparently, the townspeople felt a bit guilty about Emma’s long and difficult battle long after she died. So, for the past five years, in honor of Emma’s struggle to simply “Rest in Peace,” and for her subsequent big race down the mountain, the town has been throwing its annual Emma Crawford Festival.

Manitou Springs kicks off the festivities with the “Emma’s Favorite Haunts” ghost tour where you’ll be able to step into Emma’s world. Hop aboard the town trolley and ride through historic downtown as actors dish the dirt on Manitou Springs with tall tales and town legends. Legends like the one about the tipsy cog railway worker who rode the rails down Pikes Peak-on a whiskey bottle. Needless to say, the bottle broke, cut an artery in his leg and he rode all the way to that big cog-factory in the sky.

Join folk in town as they build coffins, or something like them, and race them down the avenue. Coffin after coffin will make its way down Manitou Avenue as a live jazz band belts out happy tunes. These boxes of death have been lovingly constructed and personalized by groups from all over town. Everyone from the Federation for the Blind to the Scotters Society (in their kilts, mind you) competes. Some folks, like the MCI team, have gone as far as to attach video cameras and smoke machines to their entries. But what every coffin must have is one Emma and four mourners. The mourners pull Emma and her coffin down Manitou Avenue’s 250 yard course at high speeds–for coffins, anyway. “We’ve never actually clocked the event, but it’s over pretty quickly,” says Leslie Lewis of the Manitou Chamber of Commerce. Winners are awarded trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd fastest coffins, and there is also a prize for the most creative coffin and the best Emma.

Don’t forget about the Haunted Trolley tours, cemetery sponsored activities and more!

Go ahead and make a bee-line for Manitou Springs. And don’t forget to climb Red Mountain.

More Information:

Tel: 719-685-5089

Event Website

Categorized as darkness

By FragileSin

To be still and quiet is a dream...