June 3, 2010

The Rise and Fall of Creede (Colorado)

(Click image to enlarge)

Above is a poem by a friend of Soapy's entitled The Rise and Fall of Creede about the famed silver camp of Creede, Colorado. It was first published in 1892. The above example was published in The Milwaukee Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI) November 26, 1892; pg. 4; col D.

Art Petersen, my publisher and historian in his own right, noted that he had found two versions of the poem. The one in 1892 and another one published in 1911, which strangely leaves out the parts about Soapy.

Below is the text of the poem. Enjoy.


The Rise and Fall of Creede.

A thousand burdened burros filled
The narrow, winding, wriggling trail;
A hundred settlers came to build,
Each day, new houses in the vale;
A hundred gamblers came to feed
On these same settlers—this was Creede.

Slanting Annie, Gambler Joe
And Robert Ford, old Olio—
Or Soapy Smith, as he was known—
Ran games peculiarly their own,
And everything was open wide
And men drank absinthe on the side.

And now the faro bank is closed.
And Mr. Faro’s gone away
To seek new fields, it is supposed,
More verdant fields. The gamblers say
The man who worked the shell and ball
Has gone back to the capitol.

The winter winds blow bleak and chill,
The quaking, quivering aspen waves
About the summit of the hill—
Above the unrecorded graves,
Where halt, abandoned burros feed
And coyotes call—and this is Creede.

Lone graves! whose head boards bear no name;
Whose silent owners lived like brutes,
And died as doggedly, but game;
And most of them died in their boots.
We mind among the unwrit names
The man who murdered Jesse James.

We saw him murdered, saw him fall,
And saw his mad assassin gloat
Above him; heard his moans and all,
And saw the shot holes in his throat,
And men moved on and gave no heed
To life or death—and this is Creede.

Slanting Annie, Gambler Joe
And Missouri Rob are sleeping there.
But slippery, sly old Olio,
Who seems to shun the golden stair,
Has turned his time to loftier tricks—
He’s doing Denver politics.
—Cy Warman, in New York Sun


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