The Town of Crested Butte sits at an elevation of 8,885 feet and was incorporated in 1880. Though rich in coal deposits, Crested Butte was initially a supply town for surrounding hard rock mining camps. The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) connected this isolated valley with the wider world. Following the silver crash 1893, coal became the primary industry. The first coal mine, opened in 1881 by the Colorado Coal & Iron Company (CC&I), was named the Crested Butte Mine and is now known as the Jokerville Mine. In 1884, an explosion caused the death of 61 workers and the mine closed. The largest coal mine, the Big Mine, operated from 1894 to 1952 and was owned by Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I). At its peak, the Big Mine employed 400 men and produced 1,000 tons of coal a day.
Today, Crested Butte is known for its recreational opportunities, creative arts scene and rich local history. It is home to the oldest mountain bike club in the word, the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA), which has established over 450 miles of single track since its founding in 1983. In 2015, Crested Butte became a Colorado Creative District to support and promote the local creative economy. Crested Butte was designated a National Historic District in 1974, preserving the Town’s architectural character dating back to the 1880s. The Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum is located in the heart of Crested Butte’s historic district. Its mission is “to preserve and share the uniquely diverse cultural history of the Gunnison Valley. We make the past a living part of the future.” Exhibits, tours and educational programming cover a wide range of local history, including CF&I and mining history.