The History of Crystal, Colorado

Crystal City is located in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. This 1880’s mountain town was very active in the era of silver mining and serves as an example of what living was like in the late 1880’s.  At its peak, the town was home to more than 600 men, women and children who made their living by working in the mines in and around the Crystal River Valley.  Generations of tough rugged folk lived and worked in harsh weather conditions surviving avalanches, rockslides and brutal cold winters at 9-thousand feet.  Today, what is left of the town, provides us a glimpse into what grit, determination and chasing dreams of striking it rich from silver may have looked like more than a hundred years ago.

The History of the Crystal Mill

Located on the river just west of the historic town of Crystal, the iconic Crystal Mill has stood for more than a century. In 1893, owners of the Sheep Mountain Tunnel realized a more efficient way of mining was needed if operations were to continue, so they constructed a powerhouse (the mill). A turbine water-wheel generated the propelling force of ninety horsepower which operated an air compressor. The compressed air was carried through steel pipe lines to air drills used to penetrate the solid rock. The historic Crystal Mill closed in 1917.

The famous Crystal Mill is still standing today. It is an iconic Mill that should be protected for future generations to see, learn about, experience and explore as a public non profit. The Crystal Mill Foundation’s number one goal is to purchase the Mill from the private family and place it into a historic and educational organization.


Once purchased, the foundation intends on preserving, managing and protecting the Crystal Mill and other historic buildings and sites in Crystal City for the public to experience over the next several decades.  The foundations’ goals include preserving history and educating visitors on this unique mill structure relic and the history of the western town itself.

Help Save the Mill!

We need your help! Together, we can preserve the
iconic Crystal Mill for the next hundred years.