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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 History of Crystal, Colorado

Crystal City is located in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. This 1880s mountain town was very active in the era of silver mining and serves as an example of what living was like in the late 1880s. 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 9,000 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 ghost town of Crystal was described in a 1973 advertisement of the Public Service Company of Colorado: "Crystal City was built during a mini boom in 1880 when word got out that silver, zinc, and copper had been located in the Elk Mountains by the Crystal River. At its peak, Crystal City supported two hotels, a barber shop, a general store, a saloon and a pool hall along with a population of 600, most of whom worked in the seven nearby mines. In its heyday, Crystal City even had a post office and an exclusive club for men only called the Crystal Club. But the boom was short-lived. Crystal City was so remote and the winters so severe that transportation, particularly for bringing in supplies, was a nearly insurmountable problem. A few people still maintain summer retreats in the area, which is one of the most scenic in the state. But the last ores were shipped out in 1913, and most of the mines and buildings in the town have disappeared."

About the Family

Most visitors to the Crystal Valley are surprised to learn the historic Crystal Mill is privately owned. Emmett Gould, great grandfather of the current owner, was one of the early men who started mining in Aspen when it began in the late 1800s. Gould decided that it would be much more profitable to feed the miners and prospectors than it was to try to find silver himself, so he started a general store and food service and made his mark. After he became successful, Emmett Gould started to spend more time in the town of Crystal and fell in love with the Crystal Valley. Two events shifted Colorado mining dramatically: the oncoming threat of World War I and the silver market crash. As local prospectors fled, Emmet was more than willing to purchase their land and mines in Crystal and the surrounding area. At the time of his death, Emmet had more than sixty mining claims that he was able to pass down to his three daughters.

As the family grew, and the land was passed down through the next generations, it became important for the family to be able to open the town to visitors so more people could enjoy the beauty of the area as well as the history of Crystal.

Today people can hike or take a 4x4 vehicle to visit the historic mill. Along with site seeing our guests can stay in one our 1800s cabins, shop at the General Store, and enjoy many outdoor activities in the surrounding area. The income from our visitors and guests allows the family to have an income source to be able to preserve the historic buildings in town as well as maintain the Crystal Mill.