Scenic USA - Colorado

Crystal Mill

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Crystal Mill - Crystal City, Colorado

Photos by Paul Winters
High Country Aerie

     This picturesque view of a fast flowing Crystal River and the 130 year old Crystal Mill may be one of Colorado's most-photographed ghost town settings. Rugged Route CR3, Marble, CO Here in the rugged Rocky Mountain expanse, near the town of Marble, there has never been and most likely never will have electricity. Just above the swift running Crystal River, inventive prospectors and miners harnessed the river's incredible power, creating a system that provided compressed air to run mining equipment. Although the site is referred to as Crystal Mill (also known as the Sheep Mountain Power House), this old building was only used to house an air compressor, extremely helpful duing 19th century mining opertions.
     The old mining town of Crystal (Crystal City) is just a quarter mile beyond the mill. Sheep Mountain mine and its silver ore helped keep the town alive for over 35 years. Reaching Crystal, once home to 400 hardy miners and shopkeepers, is acheived either from Marble (CR 3), over six miles of rugged four-wheel-drive roads, or by County Road 317 from Crested Butte. It is by no means a Sunday afternoon drive. In fact some years see the route from Schofield Pass to Crested Butte closed all summer by the remnants of a previous spring's avalanche. Only a few other four-wheel-drive roads in Colorado are more challenging than CR 317.

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