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.
Stratton always had a strong sense of compassion for the working
poor and their families. Those less fortunate knew him for many
acts of kindness and generosity even though he very much avoided
a public or social life in other ways.
When Stratton died in 1902, he left instructions in his will that
nearly all of his fortune was to be used to establish and maintain
a home for poor people and named in memory of his father, Myron
Stratton. The Trustees, whom he himself selected, carried out his
wishes. The Home, which opened in 1913, has operated continuously
since that date, and has served literally hundreds of poor elderly and children for more than a century.
The Home will always continue to be his most important legacy.
In addition to maintaining and operating the Home itself, The Stratton
Home endowment has been preserved and increased; it now exceeds
Publications available on the
life and times of Winfield Scott Stratton
"A Golden Legacy: Winfield Scott Stratton and The Myron Stratton
Can be obtained by contacting The Myron Stratton Home.
"Midas of the Rockies" by Frank Waters.
"King of Cripple Creek" by Marshall Sprague.