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Two Towns and a Song: Cripple Creek for Musicians, Singers and Cloggers.

Updated on August 19, 2015

Rutherford County's Cripple Creek Cloggers

cripple creek cloggers
cripple creek cloggers | Source

The evolution of folksongs has been of great interest to me. Likewise I have been interested in the founding and naming of towns. Sometimes the two are related.

Mudcat Café, a website for folk and blues music 

Shows a version that they list as Kentucky, traditional song.

Chorus:

roll my britches,

Up to my knees

An wade of Cripple Creek

When I please

Wikipedia shows an East Tennessee version from 1909 and a version of the ballad collector Cecil Sharpe collected in 1917

It is a popular fiddle and banjo song and has bee recorded by Bascom Lamar Lumford’ in 1921.On the Website of Matteson Art-Cripple Creek Song History Lunsford in a book said that he knew of a Cripple creek within a five minute walk of his office in the Flat Iron Building in Ashville, North Carolina.

Although many think that the song refers to Cripple Creek, Colorado Matteson believes it is Cripple Creek, Virginia, which is an unincorporated community in Wyeeth County.

Ironically, both towns are mining towns. In Colorado gold was the big draw. It got its name rather accidentally when cattleman and a helper were building a shelter by a creek. The helper by accident discharged a firearm, which wounded another man in the foot. In the excitement a calf broke a leg jumping over the creek. The rancher called the creek “Cripple Creek.”

The Virginia town also was engaged in mining but in lead and iron ore. Matteson cites a Betty Vernbrock as confirming the existence of the town. She states that she heard that the name came from some hunters who were on the trail of a large buck elk. The elk led them over Buck Mountain, along and across Elk Creek and on up north until they shot him. The only crippled the elk, at Cripple Creek.

I am more inclined to think that the Virginia town is the one as the song seems to be one of the mountains of that area rather than the west, although singers to travel.

It is also possible, I suppose, that the song only refers to a creek and could mean

More than likely the song goes back to the early 1800’s. The earliest reference to the song is in the Journal of American folklore in 1915.

The song has also been sung under various other names, possibly for copyright reasons. “Going Up/Down Cripple Creek’” “Going up/down Shootin’ creek’” “Blue Creek Girls”

Well known musicians who have recorde this song include: Flatt and Scruggs. “Live at Vanderbilt University.; Doc Watson “At Folk City;” Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers;” Folk Festival of the Smokies, Vol 1.” Leo Kottke, “Mudlark;” Buffy-Sainte-Marie, “The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie” Mike Seeger, “Feuding Banjos”; Pete Seeger, “We Shall Overcome”.

© 2010 Don A. Hoglund

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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I try. Thanks for the comment.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      dahoglund, I find it fascinating how Cripple Creek got it's name. You always write about such interesting subjects.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting.

    • datahound profile image

      datahound 

      8 years ago from USA

      Very interesting. Cripple Creek is one of the first songs you learn when venturing into 'ol timey music'. Been playing this song for years and never thought about the origins. thank you.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Sorry to tell you what you already know, but not everyone does.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Yes, I know! :)

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting. Andy Griffith was a country singer before he became a stand up comic and than an actor.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Very interesting history. I did an article on the Song Bow a while back (Advice On Enjoying the Song Bow

      http://www.advice.com/latest/article/2009/05/13/Ad... That featured a video of Buffy St. Marie playing this song on Sesame Street. Unfortunately, the video is no longer accessible.

      Love the old folk music. It was always so much fun to see Andy and the gang playing mountain music on The Andy Griffith show when I was growing up! :)

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      A. Hick

      Your point of view is welcome. The nature of folklore is somewhat ambiguous otherwise it would be history.Thanks for adding to the conversation.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Online Tutor

      Thanks for your comments.I'm glad you found it of interest.

    • profile image

      A. Hick 

      8 years ago

      Interesting story, though no definative evidence is presented, just some "maybes" and a contradiction. Cites a wikipedia entry citing a 1909 version (from memory), and also another website (http://www.mattesonart.com/cripple-creek-song-hist... that is the source of the 1915 "first" reference to the song in the Journal of American Folklore. White it "might" be the Virginia location, I bet its more the Colorado one. The earliest documented versions of the song are from around 1900 to 1920, and the Cripple Creek, CO gold strike was in 1890 and by 1900 was big news worldwide, and its many bordellos by then had developed a legendary reputation among mining camps of the Old West. Hillbillies in Appalachia (at least a few) read newspapers and kept up with current events and no doubt adapted local traditions to fit what they learned of the wider world. Whether the orgin of the song was from a local returning, or an outlander "passing" through who had experienced firsthand the pleasures of one or several of the "pleasure palaces" in Cripple Creek, CO, or just some local guys dreaming of such a place they had heard or read about, it doesn't take much imagination to figger out that mountain men in VA or NC, or TN could sing about them famous Cripple Creek gals whether or not they had ever seen any or not.

    • profile image

      Online Tutor 

      8 years ago

      Wow! I just love reading your tidbits of history. I have friends from Cripple Creek and never knew the origin of the name until now.

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge and insights with the rest of us. Greatly appreciated.

      http://how-to-become-a-tutor.blogspot.com

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for visiting my hubs and commenting.I'll have to see if I can find anything on that song you mention.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 

      8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      What an interesting hub, and an unusual topic.

      Pat lived in the USA as a child (we both live in England now) and remembers a snatch of a song "what a big bold man was this desparado, from Cripple Creek way down in Colorado". That's all she can remember though.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for commenting.

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 

      8 years ago from UK

      I enjoyed this hub. Thanks.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Seakay profile image

      Seakay 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Thank you for the link! Great hub! Amazing the information that comes to pass around Hubpages.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks. I was only familiar with the traditional lyrics.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      It's by "The Band"

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the comment.I have not heard this before.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Up on Cripple Creek

      She sends me.

      If I spring a leak

      she mends me.

      I don't have to speak

      she defends me.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for your comments. Glad you found something of interest.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 

      8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Interesting hub. I did not know how Colorado's Cripple Creek got its name, so thanks also for that!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for reading it and commenting.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Great story. Enjoyed. Thanks for sharing.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting. I agree. I also think that nams like Cripple Creek in themselves arr interesting.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 

      8 years ago

      Interesting how two towns with the same name had such parallel stories being so far apart.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I can't speak for the accuracy of the story. Like most such stories they are passed from person to person and facts often change.Thanks for commenting.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      8 years ago from West By God

      Interesting history, but there are no Elk in Virginia- that I know of. White Tailed Deer are plentiful and so are Black Bears.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Tom

      Thanks you for commenting and being supporive.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      creativeone

      Thank you for your support and comment.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      suziecat

      I didn't put in a video but I did put a link to some. Thanks for commenting.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you dahoglund, for a wonderful story hub about Cripple Creek. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 

      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Really interesting. Yes, a video would be just he right topper. Great Hub, as usual.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      dahoglund,

      Thank you for another great hub on our American heritage!!!!!!!!!!!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      That was fast. Thanks for being the first to comment.I'll have to work on adding videos but I am still somewhat technologically challenged.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Interesting history about how the towns of Cripple Creek got their name. A recording of the song would be fun to hear. Nice job! I just knew that you would come up with something interesting after that comment on my hub.

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