Winfield Scott Stratton was born on July 22, 1848, in Jeffersonville, Indiana and died at his home in Colorado Springs on September 14, 1902. His father, Myron Stratton, was a ship builder in that Ohio River port. Winfield Stratton studied carpentry in his father’s shipyards and became an expert draftsman. In 1868, like many other young men in that post-Civil War environment, he traveled west to seek his fortune. Several years later he arrived in Colorado Springs and served an apprenticeship with James D. Raymond, a friend he had known in earlier times. Soon Stratton opened his own carpentry and general contracting business.
By the winter of 1874, Stratton had become interested in prospecting. For the next 17 years he roamed the Colorado mountains looking for gold and silver. During the winters he worked at his regular trade to earn enough money to follow his search for gold. He took time off to educate himself in metallurgy at the Colorado School of Mines and in mineralogy at Colorado College. On the 4th of July 1891, he struck it rich on the south slope of Pikes Peak and filed his claim under the name of the Independence Mine, one of Cripple Creek’s richest ore discoveries.
During his lifetime, Stratton was an astute businessman and one of the visionary leaders in the planning and building of Colorado Springs. His trolley company, the Colorado Springs Interurban Railway, is a thing of the past but many other landmarks of the community that came into being through his efforts are still in use today: The Winfield Scott Stratton Post Office, the old City Hall, the former Court House (which now houses the Pioneer Museum), and the Mining Exchange Building.