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.