Crystal City: Ghost Town? Named for the beautiful quartz found in the area, Crystal City was settled primarily by silver prospectors in 1881. Its population was said to have soared to 300 during the summer months, but by 1910 only 4 people remained, and by 1920, the silver bust had turned Crystal City into a ghost town.
It is hard to imagine the existence of a thriving community in Crystal’s remote location, but in its day the downtown bustled with a blacksmith shop, a schoolhouse, a post office, a barber shop, a general store, two rooming houses, a newspaper and print shop, a town hall, saloons, and a market. Today, 2 shops and 11 cabins remain.
Many publications refer to Crystal as a ghost town, but in reality, the authentic mining-era buildings house a handful of friendly summer residents and a small general store, which is sometimes open and has a small selection of snacks, drinks, and local mineral specimens. All of these residents have fairly deep roots in the area, and it is not uncommon for them to take time out of their day to greet you and intrigue you with some fabulous stories of Crystal’s past.
Undoubtedly, Crystal’s pristine mountain splendor and beauty are what have always drawn people to the area. In recent times, Crystal has also become more widely known for the picturesque old mill which stands on the cliffs above the Crystal River, just before the entrance to town. It is one of the most photographed sites in Colorado. For more information look at our listing on “The Crystal Mill.”
For more information on Crystal and the surrounding area, pick up Roger Neal’s book, “Crystal…What Really Happened”. You can purchase it at the general store, Marble Historical Museum, or from Roger himself (first house on the right as you enter Crystal from the Marble side). It is an intriguing and insightful account of this remote mining community.
Crystal is located 6 miles to the east of Marble. It is reachable only in the summer and fall months by a rough, one-lane, 4-wheel-drive road. If you are not interested in driving, or your vehicle does not have generous ground clearance, the trip to Crystal and The Mill can be reached by foot, mountain bike, horseback, or guided jeep tour.