COBWEB CORNERS: The Captain Jack story

By Mel McFarland

       A while back, one of our readers asked me to talk about a very curious lady who lived in this area. It took awhile, but here is the story of Captain Jack. There was an earlier Captain Jack in Colorado, but he was a real Captain. This one was Mrs. Ellen E. Jack, widow of Charles E. Jack, who had been a captain in Farragut's fleet in the Civil War.
       She lived in a cabin up on the High Drive, and over the years developed quite a reputation as a character. Mrs. Jack was born in England in 1842. After her husband died, she came west. Her first residence in Colorado was at Gunnison. She moved to Colorado Springs around 1900, attracted by stories of Cripple Creek. She bought property along the High Drive that ran up Bear Creek. She prospected for gold in this area and filed a number of claims, but her primary business was entertainment.
       Tourists who drove or walked the High Drive were startled to find this lady living in the forest, often carrying a rifle and a brace of six guns. Her prospector's gear was quite in evidence. She was friendly enough and stocked refreshments that she sold to her visitors. It was not long before people went up the road just to see this unusual lady. She eventually recorded some of her stories in an autobiography,"The Fate of a Fairy, or Twenty Seven Years in the Far West." Some who have read it say that movie scripts pale by comparison to what is in her book!
       Captain Jack passed on in 1921. Her High Drive property continued to be a tourist spot, but it never held the attraction after its colorful resident was gone. The opening of the Corley Mountain Highway, which bypassed the High Drive, took away more of the visitors.
       Her buildings remained until the 1960s, when the city finally tore them down. The name, "Captain Jack," occasionally comes up in the stories told of this area in the early part of the 20th century.