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History of Crystal City, Colorado

Crystal City is a semi-ghost town located 6 miles east of the City of Marble.  The road to Crystal City has to be experienced.

The city was originally incorporateded in 1880, and had a high population of some 300-400 hardy souls, mostly support for the miners in the area.  By the early 1920's it was all but a ghost town, with few residents until the 1940's when families began a tradition of summer residence.  Today up to 5 families are in residence during the summer months -- June to September.

Mining in the area included silver, copper, lead, iron, and zinc.  Silver was the predominate lode until circa 1900 when the price of silver ore took a nose dive due to the national change to the gold standard.  By 1918 mining in the area was all but dead.  During that period however, the road from Crested Butte to Crystal City via Scholfield Pass was built.  The road was never truly completed, with construction stopping at the Devils Punchbowl.  Since the ore smelters were in Crested Butte and Marble, miners had to haul their ore using Jack Trains (ore laden mules, 100 or more to a train).  Histories of the area only mention freight wagons for delivery of goods to the city.

The road from Crystal City to Marble was constructed circa 1930/40.  There was a period during which you could drive a sedan from Marble to Crystal City.  That is no longer true today.  It can be argued that the road is basically the same condition as when it was blazed.  Most agree however, that the trip is worth it.

There are about 15 cabins in Crystal City.  Only 3 of those are newer construction, and one has been restored inside and out.  The Crystal Store has been in operation for over 50 years, make sure you sign the guest book in the store.  Six cabins are for rent through the summer months.  Inquire at the store.

The sight most visitors come to see is the Crystal Mill (aka Lost Horse Mill).  The most photographed historic site in the state of Colorado, and ranked in the top 5 in the nation.  Keep in mind that the Mill is in fact private property, so wading the river and exploring the building is prohibited. The Crystal Mill has also been called the Dead Horse Mill. No one knows why.

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Copyright © August 2006.
Crystal River Jeep Tours
Marble, Colorado 81623

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