For centuries in the beautiful upper Crystal River Valley, the Marble Area was a sacred hunting ground to the Native American Ute Culture. By the 1870s, prospectors looking for gold and silver began to settle between Lead King Basin and Beaver Lake. Although the search for silver never amounted to much, the discovery of marble in 1872 did. John Osgood displayed a large block of Yule Creek marble at the 1893 World Colombian Exposition in Chicago, creating a demand for marble for the Capitol Building in Denver and to supply finishing mills in the east from 1894-1896.
By 1905 there were three, more or less active marble quarries operating, and Marble’s population had grown to 150. The Colorado Yule Marble Company, organized in 1906, leased the Crystal River Railroad from Carbondale to Placita and built 7 miles of new railroad track into Marble, naming the railroad spur the Crystal River and San Juan Railroad. A huge finishing mill and a 3.5 mile tramway was constructed, boosting Marble’s population to 1,500 by 1915.
In it’s boom time, Marble bustled with people who filled the churches, school, a motion picture theater, five general stores, two hotels, a drugstore, a dry goods store, two pool halls, a Masonic Hall, two barbershops, six saloons and two newspapers. At the time of the Great War the market for marble collapsed, most of the Italian Stone workers returned to conscription in the Italian army, and Marble’s population dropped to 50 people.*
STATISTICS ON MARBLE, CO:
For additional information visit the Marble Crystal River Chamber.
*Information obtained from the 2005 Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Business Directory and the Town of Marble web site