Nonprofit seeks donations to save Crystal Mill |

Nonprofit seeks donations to save Crystal Mill

A nonprofit has launched a campaign to fundraise and purchase the privately-owned Crystal Mill.
Peter Baumann / Post Independent

A group of people from all over Colorado are banding together to save the Crystal Mill from “almost certain destruction,” a Crystal Mill foundation spokesperson said.

“Our long term goal would be for to once and for all preserve something that people think is already preserved,” said Heather Leigh, the Crystal Mill Foundation president.

Located about an hour south of Glenwood Springs in the Crystal River Valley, the Crystal Mill is actually an old powerhouse built in the 1890s to help miners extract resources from the nearby silver mines, the foundation website reports

Though powered down in 1917, the picture-perfect mill draws thousands of visitors each year from all over the world.

The mill, however, is not a protected historic site. It’s privately owned, and as more visitors come each year, the owners are ready to pass on the land’s legacy to someone else.

“Crowds gather daily and weekends are out of control,” said Christopher Cox in a news release. “It has simply outgrown us.There are literally thousands of people that visit each year and we are overwhelmed. It’s becoming unsafe with the size of the crowds. It is time to place the Crystal Mill into a nonprofit and let the public experience it in the future.”

The Cox family has owned the mill for six generations.

Unfortunately, Leigh said it was likely the next owner would tear the mill down. 

So, the Crystal Mill Foundation was created and officially received its nonprofit 501c3 designation June 4.

“Our mission is to raise $10 million in the next year,” Leigh said. “Of that, $5 million would go to the purchase of the mill, and the other $5 million would pay for the installation of much needed health and safety improvements.”

As it stands, mill visitors do not have access to public restrooms or running water, and while the current owners hired a minimal staff to prevent people from hurting themselves during their visit, Leigh said the foundation would eventually like to have the site fully staffed and provide visitors with educational programming.

Leigh said forming a nonprofit was not the interested parties’ first choice for saving the mill, but after discussing their options with state and federal agencies, it was the best path forward.

The Foundation’s board consists of Colorado residents from all over the state, including Carbondale, Aspen and Redstone, she said.

The group is committed to pursuing a future where the public has full access to the historic site, but to do so, they need to raise a lot of money and fast.

“We have until next summer to raise the full amount,” Leigh said. “But, we need to get half the money together by the end of this year, because the family will want time to list it if we aren’t able to meet our goals.”

Donations can be sent in via the Foundation’s website at or by mail at Crystal Mill Foundation, P.O. Box No. 27434 Lakewood, CO, 80227.

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