The Crystal Mill or historically known as the Sheep Mountain Mill, is one of the most beautiful, picturesque and reputed to be the most photographed area in Colorado state. It’s located above the Crystal River in Crystal, Colorado, between the towns of Glenwood Springs and Aspen on Highway 82, seven miles southeast of Marble.
The Crystal Mill is a wooden powerhouse built in 1892, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Astonishing is that Crystal never had nor does it have now, electricity. It is said that the mill harnessed the river adjacent to the mill to power the air compressor housed inside. Also, early engineers had built a dam across the river, which funneled water down the vertical penstock (the ladder-like structure) onto a horizontal wheel, which drove an axle in the penstock.
The penstock powered the air compressor. In turn, the enormous compressor ran drills in the nearby Sheep Mountain and Bear Mountain mines. The drills were used to bore holes in the mine walls for the placement of dynamite. After the dynamite was detonated, the miners removed the whole ore. Even the operation shut down in 1917, the site has been preserved with the help of the Gunnison and Aspen historical societies and today The Crystal Mill remained an attraction for the city of Crystal.
The Crystal Mill is reachable only in the summer and fall months; it is accessed by a road that requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle, a sturdy pair of boots, a mountain bike or a horse. You have to see this place for yourself. You will see it’s worth its tourist attraction status.