Group racing to raise $10M to preserve iconic Crystal Mill before potential sale

The historic structure was built in 1893 to serve mines at the town of Crystal, now a ghost town

John Meyer
The Denver Post
Crystal Mill
Photo by Shannon Asher/For The Aspen Times Weekly

The Crystal Mill, a beautiful relic of Colorado’s colorful mining past, has stood crazily on a rock outcrop above the Crystal River in the Elk mountains since 1893. But after withstanding more than a century of harsh winters in a rugged, remote setting near the ghost town of Crystal, its days may be numbered.

Historic preservation efforts to save the structure through the intervention of a non-profit foundation are underway, but Crystal Mill Foundation president Heather Leigh said $10 million must be raised by next June to purchase it from the private family that owns it and secure its future, otherwise the owners are likely to sell it.

“We really believe that making it a nonprofit and putting it in a place where it is preserved and protected for the next century will help get it into the right place, and we have a very small window to do it,” Leigh said. “We have to get this done within the next year, or it rolls back to the family and they will sell it to the highest bidder. If you’re a billionaire and you want a quiet retreat place to go, you (can) knock down the mill and no one will ever come on that road again.”

The mill is only 17 miles southwest from Aspen as the crow flies — a few minutes by helicopter — so Leigh fears it would be an attractive property to a billionaire wanting to demolish the mill to discourage visitors and build a home nearby. That’s why Leigh spent a year setting up the non-profit foundation to save it so visitors can continue to make the trip.

Read the full story via The Denver Post.