Colorado Coffin Races is a tradition which has emerged in Manitou Springs to commemorate the death of Emma Crawford, a young girl who moved to the area at the turn of the 20th century in the hope of curing her tuberculosis.
As the legend goes, Emma wanted to climb Red Mountain, a group of three peaks - the smallest of which is just over 12,200 ft. In spite of her illness, she managed to accomplish this feat and upon reaching the summit, she was so happy that she declared she wanted to be buried there when she died. A few months later, the tuberculosis defeated Emma, and she died at the age of 19.
Her husband and eleven other men from the town honoured her dying wish and carried her coffin to the top of Red Mountain, where she was buried. However, around 30 years later, after torrential rains, her coffin was washed down the mountain and her remains were relocated to a grave in Crystal Valley Cemetery.
The residents of Colorado remember this event with an annual coffin race. This involves around 50 teams of five - comprising one Emma Crawford impersonator and four 'mourners'. Each team must build a sort of 'coffin racing cart' which they then race through the town. Prizes go out to the best coffin design and the best Emma Crawford impersonator, and the race is preceded by a parade through the town so spectators get chance to see all the costumes and coffins.
This year the coffin races will be held on September 27 between 12:00pm and 3:00pm in Downtown Historic Manitou Springs.