Chateaux Condominiums
651 Gothic Rd
Mt Crested Butte, CO 81225
970-349-5576

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HISTORY OF CRESTED BUTTE

Crested Butte is a rare valley jewel deeply embedded in the heart of the Gunnison National Forest. Surrounded by at least sixteen imposing snowcapped peaks, this charming little community retains much of its humble beginnings. Crested Butte can trace its heritage back to the 1880s when the railroad brought European immigrants to the tiny community to labor on local cattle ranches, in the gold and silver mines, and then later the Colorado Fuel & Iron coal mines. The eclectic and often eccentric settlers forged a reputation for honesty, unpretentiousness, hard work and fun that has created an enduring heritage.

The last coal mine closed in 1952 and locals suffered through a rough decade of economic upheaval. Even after the ski industry built the resort community of Mt. Crested Butte at the base of Crested Butte Mountain in 1961, tourism remained an unreliable source of income. 1965-66 the ski area went through a series of bankruptcies, limping along until 1970 when a Georgian politician, Bo Callaway and his partner, Ralph Walton, purchased the ski area.

The 70s were a time of intense growth with hippies and southern entrepreneurs moving in creating an interesting cultural, ethnic and occupational divergence, but many were unprepared for the sharp drop in income during the spring and fall off-seasons, and quickly went broke and left. The residents who persevered often took two and three jobs to sustain themselves during these difficult years.

The ski area has never been the saving grace some had hoped for. Over the 33 years the Calloway-Walton families owned the mountain resort, despite having poured $100 million into the business; it simply wasn't enough to maintain the property and facilities. Vail invested that much in their mountain in just 5 years. Skier visits plummeted from an all-time seasonal high of 550,000 skiers in the late nineties to nearly half that in 2004.

March 2004 the Mueller family bought Mt. Crested Butte resort with an amazing, progressive vision that committed an immediate $200 million to renovation, upgrades, and expansion. The Muellers embraced the town's remoteness and charm. They recognized the town's honest spirit evident in the community that prides itself on having no stoplights, no fast-food franchises or hotel chains. They welcomed the community's uniqueness and compassion, and intend to work hard with the locals to enhance Crested Butte's appeal without trampling the spirit, pride, and environment that are the heart of this area.

With a current population of 1,600, the Crested Butte community is a unique, unassuming town complete with ups and downs, yet at the core one discovers a deep, abiding love and respect for people, wildlife, and the surrounding mountains that remains iron strong, steadfast, and undaunted.

The Company Store in 1975, flanked by Yelenick's Liquor Store and Jokerville Bar & Restaurant
Photo by Sandra Cortner from her book, Crested Butte Stories . . . Through My Lens