Crystal, Colorado is a historic ghost town located in Gunnison County. Nestled in the breathtaking beauty of the Elk Mountains, this small town holds a significant place in Colorado’s rich history. Founded in 1881 during the silver mining boom, Crystal quickly flourished into a bustling community with a population of over 400 people at its peak.
The town was named after the stunning crystals found in the nearby mines, which were known for their exceptional size and clarity.
Crystal became a major hub for silver mining and soon attracted fortune-seekers from all over the country. As the mines prospered, stores, saloons, and even a hotel popped up to cater to the growing population.
Native wire Silver
However, Crystal’s prosperity was short-lived. By the early 1890s, the silver market crashed, leading to the closure of many mines. As the miners moved on, the town gradually declined and turned into a ghost town. Despite being abandoned, Crystal’s historic buildings, cabins, and artifacts remain intact, offering a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Today, Crystal is preserved as a historic site, attracting visitors from all over the world. Exploring the town’s well-preserved remnants, such as the Crystal Mill, is like stepping back in time. The Mill, also known as the Sheep Mountain Powerhouse, is an iconic symbol of Crystal and has been featured in countless photographs. The mill was constructed in 1893 by George C. Eaton and B.S. Phillips, promoters of the Sheep Mountain Tunnel and Mining Company. It was built as a power plant for the Sheep Mountain Tunnel. Originally it had a horizontal waterwheel that generated compressed air for miners in the nearby silver mines. It fell into disuse in 1917 when the Sheep Mountain Tunnel mine closed. The mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 5, 1985
The Crystal River, flowing nearby, is a popular spot for fishing and camping for outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, Crystal boasts stunning hiking trails that traverse through the magnificent Elk Mountains, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. Jeep tours are available out of Marble.
The history of Crystal, Colorado serves as a reminder of the state’s colorful past and the boom-and-bust cycles that shaped its development. Whether you’re a history buff or an adventure seeker, a visit to Crystal promises a unique and inspiring experience that will leave you in awe of this once-thriving silver mining town.
Roger Neal has spent over fifty summers in the high mountain country of Crystal. His most memorable times were, climbing mountains, driving jeep tours, and even working in one of the old silver mines at the age of fourteen. Roger’s mining cabin in Crystal is often visited by people seeking advice about fishing, mountain climbing, four wheeling and mine locations. Roger has many books available about the rich stories of the Crystal valley.