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Crystal Colorado Ghost Town

Picture Credits to Mike and  Joan Sinnwell  1985 - 2002

This is perhaps one of the most photographed mining buildings in Colorado. It is part of an old power plant below Crystal City. The Power Plant was operated by Sheep Mountain Mill to drive air compressors for the Sheep Mountain Tunnel. The structure is located near the old town of Crystal City.

Crystal City was founded on the Crystal River in 1880. Most of the mining done near here was for silver. After the silver panic of 1893 the town's population steadily decreased. The last time this mill was operated was in 1916 when the towns population grew to 75. A change from a high of about 300 to 400 in 1886 and a low of 8 in 1915. Some claim the population was as high as 600 in 1883. Today you can still see old miner's buildings, this mill and other structures. Make sure you use a 4x4, or plan to walk the last four miles to get there.

If you are a history buff you should read Robert B. Houston Jr's books.  "The Battle over Silver; Porter Nelson in Aspen." And "Two Colorado Odysseys: Chief Ouray Porter Nelson." He was kind enough to share some interesting history on Crystal with me. At one time he was a 1/3 owner in the Sheep Mountain Mill in Crystal.

A viewer writes - Hi mike my father in law and i went to crystal recently and let me tell you it was the most beautiful drive up to it ! The road is defiantly 4x4 and you get bumped around quite a bit but by all means well worth the drive.

A viewer writes May 16th 2010 - hi i would like to tell you that Crystal Colorado is not a ghost town :) my family and i live there during the summers...stop in sometime to the crystal store... right next the old crystal club -Miranda

Rocky responds, - - Yes, I have visited the store and it is a wonderful place to visit and the people are friendly. I even bought a book there.

A viewer writes -Sunday, July 11, 2010 - My son Aaron and I visited Crystal in July 2010 and found this to be one of the most wonderful experiences we have had in our may years of exploring Colorado. The residents of Crystal are the most friendly and thank you Deb for your hospitality and adopting us both. We will see you in the fall... Thanks again...Dave

A viewer writes -   Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - In the early 60's I started going to Crystal with the Tidwell family. In those days, of course, no running water, no electricity, outhouses, good and bad ones, and all of the cabins were in disrepair. I was 11 yrs. old, and with all of the joined families, we would take on one cabin a summer, clean them up, and name them to know where to run during an afternoon rainstorm! My memories of the 7 summers I spent up there are wonderful, and I do hope to get up there again soon. There were 3 families that would populate were the Bassetts, Neals, and of course the whole Tidwell clan. We had one mulepack guide that would take you to Snowmass Lake, and back...what a trip!

Thanks for the memories and great times....Susan (Brunty)Lyon

A viewer writes -  Wednesday, December 08, 2010  -- Hi, my name is Debbie. I am part of the "Tidwell clan" that Susan (Brunty) Lyon commented on Wed. Nov.24, 2010 about Crystal, CO. I have lived in Crystal (in the summers) for many yrs. My family has been coming since 1938. She commented "Thanks for the memories" Please refresh my memory on who YOU are! Thank you!! djheise@earthlink.net

A viewer writes Tuesday December 21st 2010 - Mike (Rocky?) Thanks so much for trying! You went over and above! For that matter, thanks for emailing me about it!  I think I know who she is, but haven't seen her since I was a child. I'm 49 and have spent 49 yrs (summers) in Crystal. We have rented our cabins out for almost that long. You've done a beautiful job showing our Crystal town and the Mill. If you get back to Crystal, please come say "Hi" and sign our guest book in our little crystal gift store. I'll be somewhere in Crystal...ask for Debbie.  

I would love to get in contact with Susie (that's what we called her) Thanks again Mike..(Rocky?) Merry Christmas!  Deb

A viewer writes - Thursday December 23rd 2010 -- Is Crystal City really a ghost town now? When I was there July 18, 1983, I was told there were 12 people who lived there year round. There was a bulldozer parked near the road that a resident said was used to clear the snow at times. Even in July that location had a wall of snow on each side of the road.  Just recently I came across some photos of that trip and decided to look Crystal up on the internet. It was one of the most beautiful spots in this country 17 years ago and I imagine it still is.   -- Jean

A viewer writes - Sunday, January 16, 2011 -- I found this picture of the Crystal Springs Mill while searching through pics of Ghost towns on the net. The best part, is that I live in a cabin in Alaska, and this picture (the 2nd 1985 pic) came with the cabin when rented. It shows a creek running next to it as well. I stare endlessly at it everyday, and am glad to finally know, where it is & when it was taken. Thanks. From Amy, Tok, AK

Rocky Replies - Too bad I don't have your email address. I was in TOK last year and plan a visit again this year. I would stop and say HI.

A viewer writes - Wednesday, February 29, 2012 --  Crystal Colorado the town, the mill, the mtns are one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. This place is very remote and can only be found by 4x4. Thanks to my parents and growing up in the Colorado mountains. I had the pleasure of standing very close to the mill with the raging water and having a picture taken with my father. My parents had this picture blown up, framed and hung above our stairs. Unfortunately the picture has been lost and all I have is the memory. I am 49 years old and will never forget this place. Simply God's magnificent work! The pictures are beautiful. Thank you!!

A viewer writes - Saturday, March 10, 2012 -- My husband and I rented a cabin in Crystal City in 1972 for our honeymoon.  It was a wonderful time and the memories are even more precious now that  he is gone.  One of our wedding presents was a painting of the mill done by a cousin.  It has always hung over our fireplace no matter where we lived.  It was nice to find this site and reminisce.

A viewer writes - Friday, June 29, 2012 -- We visited the town of Crystal in the summer of 1976.  Two sisters lived in the two-story house across from the Crystal post office. They were the only residents at that time and "ran" the post office and sold pop from the cooler, which was a mountain stream, running between the house and the post office.  We had read of the town in Motor Home Life, a magazine that featured places to visit.  Ladies had not seen the article.  I gave them my copy of magazine. They were very interesting women, and we could have visited much longer had we the time.  They were not young in 1976.  Does anyone know of them?

Rocky Says - Please provide your email address so I can provide you with additional information.

A viewer writes - Thursday, July 05, 2012 -- I went to Crystal in 1969 with my boyfriend of the time.  We made it in my 1965 Mustang, although it took 3 tries and one crisis of getting stuck in the middle of a creek.  It was one of the most beautiful places on earth, as far as I was concerned.  All the cabins were empty except for one, which housed a caretaker, of sorts, who told us we were welcome to camp there, which we did.  I will never forget it, and it still figures in my imagination as a place I would love to live.  Very inaccessible then, except by 4 wheel drive.  I have never been back, although I hope to, someday.

A viewer writes - Sunday January 12th 2014 -- I have a great picture of the mill with my wife above the waterfall with her bike helmet on her head. I blew it up poster size and made a nice wooden frame for it, matted it and put some non-glare glass in it and have had it hanging on my wall for at least 20 years. We have had more nice comments on this picture of Colorado scenery. We have mountain bikes from Crested Butte to Marble several times and it is harder than running a marathon. Crystal Colorado is a fabulous place to visit with family, just do not go east of town toward Crested Butte in a 4x4 unless you are an expert....several people have died the most recent ones probably around the late 1990's, a family with 2 teenage daughters rolled down an avalanche chute and I believe at least 3 of them died if massive injuries. The lady at the General Store went up the road about 2 miles and actually went down to the wreck to try and help until rescue arrived. This place is possibly the most beautiful to visit in Colorado but just be extremely careful, walk, ride a bike or a horse to see the region's beauty.