May 21, 2013 Updated: May 21, 2013 at 6:16 am
Wanna see a brothel? Well, heck. Who doesn't?
It's in Victor. Or was.
The old Fortune Club has been transformed into a diner and soda fountain.
It's among the highlights of a backroad trip to Cripple Creek and its casinos.
In the 1890s, the lower level of the Fortune Club was a gentlemen's club, the upstairs a soft spot for ladies of the night.
Owner Sue Kochevar plans to reopen the top as a B&B, although there are a couple of rooms available for rent now - minus the ladies.
The diner is homey - rough wood floors with a mirror behind the counter.
Locals gather here, the cooking done by Staci Wywias, adorned in baseball cap and apron, and Catalin Minkler, a college student home for the summer.
Everything is cooked fresh and homemade pies and milkshakes are the diner's delicacies.
There's a kind of deadbeat charm about Victor, perched on the side, next to and near the bones of old mines and the heavy crawl of monster trucks at the current gold mine on the flip side of Battle Mountain.
Empty, old buildings are rampant. Brick reminders of a golden history. The Isis theater with bullet holes, scars from the battle between miners and mine owners in 1903.
There's the Victor Lowell Thomas museum, the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co., loads of old mines to visit, trails and the American Eagles Scenic Overlook.
It's no hub, though, more of an earmark on a road less taken. The nearest bank and school are five miles distant in Cripple Creek.
Still, it's history that hasn't been rewritten yet, a good thing, for therein lies its crumpled magic.
It's one of the places you get to when you take the back route to Cripple Creek to lose money hand over fist, forsaking the harrowing turns on the more direct route up the side of the mountain.
Hit the back road and dredge up a little history. The route is simpler, a cut through a meadow, ranches here and there, very little traffic, a placid thing before the jangle of slots and that eye glaze that casinos bring.
From Colorado Springs, head west on U.S. 24, roll through Woodland Park and make the left at Divide (where you can buy a big dill pickle) onto Colorado 67. When the road branches, take Lazy S Ranch Road, (Highway 81,) along West Beaver Creek past Bison Road to Victor. Take a left on 3rd Street, a right on Victor Avenue, then creep so you can feel the ghosts of an old gold mine town. Follow the road past the gold mine headquarters, over one of the great bridges of Colorado that no one talks about.
You only know it's there because you have to cross it to get to the other side.
Contact Garrison Wells: 636-0198