Susan Anderson, MD
Adopted by Virginia Cornell
Susan Anderson, M.D. was born in 1870 and moved to Cripple Creek,
Colorado, with her family in 1891 during the gold rush. She graduated
from the University of Michigan in 1897. In one of her first cases
as a physician, Anderson rejected a surgeon's recommendation to
amputate and saved the arm of a boy who had accidentally exploded
dynamite in a mine.
After encountering difficulties building a practice in Denver,
Greeley and Eaton, Anderson found her services appreciated in Fraser,
where she treated lumberjacks, ranchers, railroad workers and even
animals. Townsfolk referred to her as "Doc Susie." Although most
of her practice involved house calls, she never owned a horse or
car. When her services were needed, and the patient was distant,
relatives or friends of the patient would provide her with transportation.
She often accompanied patients to Colorado General Hospital in
Denver to admit them for treatment. Usually paid in firewood or
food, she was poor most of her life.
When the Moffat Tunnel was bored throught the Rockies, many tunnel
workers were injured and killed in accidents. Because
most of her patients were poor and unable to pay her, Dr. Anderson
became destitute. During the time the Moffat Tunnel was being
was made Grand County Coroner. This official position — and
the steady salary — made her financial situation much less
During the great influenza epidemic of 1918, Dr. Anderson was
rushed from one deathbed to the next as her reputation for saving
patients put her in great demand. In later years she set the broken
bones of skiers injured at the Winter Park ski resort and even
stitched up the lacerated arm of a World War II sailor who was
injured while riding on a troop train that passed through Fraser.
Dr. Anderson died in 1960 in a rest home in Denver and is buried
in Cripple Creek.
In the late 1950's, Dr. Anderson was featured in a newspaper article
that was nationally distributed by the Associated Press. She also
enjoyed the publicity of being featured in an occasional magazine
story. Because of this publicity, Ethel Barrymore became aware
of Doc Susie's fascinating story and offered to make a movie about
her life. Dr. Anderson declined. Nevertheless, as a professional,
she inspired the young girls of Fraser to pursue goals loftier
than the drudgery their mothers endured.