23rd Annual – Emma Crawford Coffin Races 2017
October 28, 2017 – Manitou Springs, Colorado
It has been over a decade since I’ve been to the Coffin Races. It is still as fun as ever. I got to see some old friends and colleagues, got a guest spot on the bleachers for a good view, and to hang with the hearse club momentarily. Before the event, went to the Comic shop for their mimosas and pancakes event where signings were being done from a actor on the Walking Dead. Everyone’s costumes at the affair are always to the nines, with incredible creativity. It is however a very busy event with a nightmare for parking unless you come early and take the hike in. It is one of my favorite Colorado Festivals. While the City has become a little bit more constrained and stiffling of the event, it still has a great flavor of wildness, entertainment, and fun. Every October, the city of Manitou Springs Colorado comes together to celebrate a facet of macabre history of the village – the day that Emma Crawford’s coffin came racing down the mountain. To celebrate it, residents and visitors alike come dressed up in Halloween costumes and the main street is shut down for a “coffin race” for all to see.
Emma Crawford moved to Manitou Springs in the 1800’s seeking a cure for her struggle with tuberculosis. Since the Springs of Manitou were notorious for curing TB, it was a good place for her to be. In 1890 though, the illness got the best of her, and she passed away. Her wish upon her death was to be buried on top of Red Mountain, overlooking the village.
Friends, family, and villagers honored her request, hauled her body up the mountain, and buried her atop the mountain. However, as is common with this region susceptible to floods and weather … Several years of rain and harsh weather chewed away at the top soil above her grave and eventually her remains slid down the mountain into the canyon below where two young boys discovered her name plate and silver handles of her casket.
Annually Manitou celebrates the event and the woman with parades, parties, concerts, and a city event.