Unusual Events: Emma Crawford Festival & Coffin Races

The annual Emma Crawford Festival and Coffin Races in Manitou Springs is certainly one of the oddest celebrations in the country. Held each October in Manitou Springs, Colorado (a small town of about 5,000 outside Colorado Springs), this one-day event honors the passing of the town’s most famous former resident, Emma Crawford.

Emma Crawford was a young woman who came from South Royalston, Massachusetts to Manitou Springs for fresh Rocky Mountain air to help her battle tuberculosis. At age 28, Emma passed away in December 1891 and requested to be buried atop Red Mountain, which overlooks the town. Her body remained in that location until 1912, when the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company did some work on Red Mountain and moved her coffin to the south slope. Unfortunately, rains and other turbulent weather loosened the soil and rocks, resulting in Emma’s coffin sliding down the mountain and onto the main thoroughfare of Manitou Springs.

Photo by Andra DuRee Martin.

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