Crystal’s Summer


Crystal Mill in Colorado is an old mine. The stamp mill is long gone, but the power plant remains. Crystal’s Summer gives us a glimpse into the past.


Crystal’s Summer explores bygone days. Back in 1892, well before the widespread use of electricity, the need for power tools certainly existed at the Sheep Mountain Mine near Crystal, Colorado. After all, there was silver in that mine, and mining it was backbreaking work.

Not having a power plant nearby, human ingenuity came once again to the forefront.

There just happened to be a small, yet powerful river nearby: the Crystal River. Just above a small fall on the Crystal River, they built a power plant. This power plant ingeniously turned the water’s motion into compressed air using a horizontal water wheel. The air was then fed to the mine and tools that used it.

And with that advent, mining in the Sheep Mountain Mine became just a tad more efficient. The mine eventually closed in 1917, and the residents of nearby Crystal drifted away… the mine, power plant and town all faded into the past, just as so many mining towns eventually do.

Yet, Crystal remains a very special place and today, the power plant (now colloquially called “Crystal Mill,” even though it was not and never was a “mill”) remain an iconic Colorado location. The buildings next to the mill have long since collapsed. Crystal Mill itself remains standing steadfast against the elements and time.

A unique location

Crystal Mill is also virtually unique in the United States, since few such power plants were built in the first place. To have one still standing is a true rarity. Nestled against the river and in between a beautiful stand of aspens, Crystal Mill remains today as a symbol and a sign of Colorado mining at its finest.

Oddly, even today the town of Crystal does not have electricity. Although, it does have a handful of seasonal residents. In talking to these sons and great granddaughters of the original miners, they don’t miss it. Life there is wonderfully idyllic. Time marches on, but not everywhere.

More photographs of Crystal Mill

Crystal’s Repose and Crystal Panorama are wonderful companions to Crystal’s Summer.

Additional information


Matted Photograph, Finished Aluminum