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July 2019

Met some interesting characters here

Pitkin, originally named Quartzville, was Colorado's first mining camp west of the Continental Divide.  By March 1, 1879, Curtiss, Chiles and Scott, along with Zeb Watson and W. W. Wolfe began laying the foundation for the first building ever to be erected in this camp.  The little log cabin was located on Main Street opposite where, In July 1880, the Pitkin Independent, the local newspaper, was established.

The town was renamed Pitkin after Governor Frederick W. Pitkin.  Governor Pitkin was a native of Connecticut who came to Colorado because his wife insisted it would help his ailing health.  F. W. Pitkin became a man of prominence and was elected to two terms as Governor of the State of Colorado.

Many firsts occurred in 1880’s.

In 1882, during the month of July, lots owned by the town went up at public auction and were sold for from $1 to $5 each.  A total of 59 lots were sold for $149.65.  F. W. Pitkin bought lots 7, 8, 9 and 10, Block 41, at $5 each.

The first school was established in 1880 and was a private school with 39 students in 8 grades.  

Over thirty mines operated during the winter of 1880 compared to six the year before.

The first covered stage to enter Pitkin from Gunnison was on November 17, 1880.  

In July 1880, a toll road was being constructed from Alpine to Pitkin and would be kept open all winter.

The first church service was held in December of 1880 when the Episcopal Mission held services in the City Hall.  By 1881, churches included Presbyterian, Union Sabbath and Congregational Churches.

The first telegraph was put into operation in September 1880 and was housed in the Pitkin House Hotel.  

C. W.  Sanborn started a sawmill six miles above Pitkin in March 1881 where he reportedly had over 500,000 logs ready to be cut into lumber.

On March 1, 1881, "J. L. Sanderson & Company" began running their stage lines along the toll road from Gunnison through Pitkin, up Middle Quartz to Woodstock, over Williams Pass to Hancock and beyond. Sleighs were then put on runs between Alpine and Gunnison during the winter months.

By June of 1882 there were over 60 business houses and 300-400 residences, with fewer than a dozen of them empty.  It had a population of over 1,000 and the surrounding hills were bursting.

The early promise began to fade by the summer of 1882.  Mineral veins that were rich near the surface began to play out at over 75-100 feet in depth and didn't justify further development.  By the spring of 1883, Pitkin had lost half its population.

During the late 1880's three major fires and three epidemics also contributed to Pitkin's decline.  A short revival in silver mining took place in 1891 and 1892 but ended with the silver panic of 1893.  The Roosevelt Mine three miles below Pitkin opened in 1907 with a great deal of promise, and operated into the 1930's.  But low-grade ore and controversy stopped its operation.