chaffee county scenic byways
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st elmo colorado
St. Elmo Colorado



Directions: Take US Hwy 24 to Nathrop; Go west on CR 162 (Mt Princeton) and follow for 19 miles to St. Elmo

One of the best-preserved historic mining towns in Colorado, St. Elmo, was established in the 1870s because of the discovery of silver in the mountains surrounding Chalk Creek. At its height, the town had 2,000 residents. First called Forest City, this thriving mining community was served by the Denver South Park & Pacific Railroad from 1883 until 1899 when the Colorado and Southern took over. The name St. Elmo came from a popular novel of the time. All of the buildings are privately owned. The St. Elmo schoolhouse has been recently restored and is open for viewing during the summer months.

St. Elmo vicinity
State Register 3/12/1997, 5CF.170

The building, with Queen Anne detailing, is a well-preserved and interesting combination of log and frame construction. It is the only remaining mining era building located in the vicinity of the short-lived smelter town of Iron City. The 1890 wood frame second story was constructed over a pre-1890 one-story log cabin.

Pitkin, Gunnison, 1st, Main & Poplar Sts.
National Register 9/17/1979, 5CF.139

St. Elmo owes its existence to the development of silver mining, which began in the Chalk Creek area in the 1870s. Originally platted as Forest City, its brief era of prosperity occurred during the 1880s with the coming of the Denver South Park & Pacific and the Denver & Rio Grande railroads. The district consists of a group of primarily wood frame commercial buildings and several clusters of residences dating from the 1880s and 1890s. The small vernacular buildings are representative of the type of construction found in early mining camps. The district is flanked by groves of pine and aspen growing on the mountain slopes that rise sharply above the townsite.

St. Elmo
State Register 5/16/2001, 5CF.167.3

The Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad, along with its successors the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison and the Colorado & Southern, faced heavy operating costs, particularly on the Alpine Tunnel District portion of its route. The reuse of railroad cars as stationery structures provided quick and inexpensive shelter for equipment storage, crew bunkhouses, and even the occasional depot. The Colorado & Southern used the two former box cars on the site for crew quarters and storage from 1908 until 1922.

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