It was in the late 1800s when Redstone was first settled by one of the famous robber barons, John Cleveland Osgood, who expanded his coal mining empire with a somewhat utopian project of “industrial paternalism.” He built what is now the Redstone Inn and 84 cottages to house his employees and their families plus the opulent 42-room Cleveholm Manor, or “Redstone Castle,” for himself. Osgood’s experiment failed when the mines closed in 1909, and an attempt by his widow to turn the buildings into a resort collapsed during the Depression. Redstone has slowly risen from the ashes and defied the fate of having lapsed into another Colorado ghost town. Still, the old coke ovens along Highway 133 are vivid reminders of the region’s past resource-extraction history where coal, marble, slate, silver, lead, zinc and uranium were mined.
Facts: population: 130; elevation 7,203 feet; land area: 0.44 square mile
Known as the “Ruby of the Rockies,” Redstone today is an established community of artisans, a small year-round population, several second-home owners and an historic district lined with galleries, a general store, restaurants, and lodging. It attracts tourists, outdoor enthusiasts and photographers. It’s no wonder. The town and, indeed, the entire Crystal River Valley, is replete with endless mountain scenery, towering red cliffs, clear river waters, natural hot springs, and pristine wilderness. It offers an abundance of diversions in the summer, fall and winter: fly-fishing, hiking, cycling, kayaking, camping, horseback riding, cross-country skiing/snowshoeing, and more. Wildflowers abound in summer and the fall brings an unparalleled autumn display of color. Mother Nature is at her best throughout the area.
Close to Redstone, at an elevation of 7,992 feet, lies the town of Marble, another mountain gem with a population of 131 residents. It is home to the famous Yule Marble Quarry that produces a premium quality of marble reputed to rival the best of Italian stone. Fact: the marble from the Yule Quarry was used for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., among many other famous memorials and buildings.
Further along County Road 3, five miles past Marble, lies Crystal City, essentially a ghost town, save for a few summer residents, and the site of the most picturesque Crystal Mill. Built in 1883, the mill was used to provide power to the town in its silver mining days. For decades it has been the subject of many a photographer’s and artist’s keen eye.
The spectacular Crystal River Valley, considered to be one of Colorado’s top attractions, extends from the Town of Carbondale, with Mount Sopris rising above it, to Redstone and on to Marble and Crystal City. It is a part of the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway for good reason.
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