Pitkin, Colorado

The Pitkin Welcome sign

Founded in 1879, Pitkin is likely the first mining camp in Colorado west of the Continental Divide. The original name was Quartzville but the town was renamed in honor of Colorado Governor Frederick W. Pitkin when it was incorporated in late summer, 1879. The town site was soon platted and the first lots sold in December, 1879. Mining for iron, lead, gold, silver and copper sustained Pitkin for many years. Six mines were begun in 1879 but by 1880, there were more than 30 in operation in the area. And the mines were among the best producers in Colorado. By 1882, there were more than 60 businesses thriving in Pitkin with the population topping 1,000 in town, more in the hills all around. Then the veins of ore started to peter out and the town lost half its population by the spring of 1883. The late 1880s saw three major fires burn large parts of the town site and three epidemics took a toll on the population. Passage of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act brought life back to Pitkin in 1891 but the repeal of that act and the shift of the Treasury from a silver standard to a gold standard ended that revival of prosperity in Pitkin in 1893 (same as it turned the rest of the country financially upside down). The lumber business and the fish hatchery revived the town a bit in the 1920s but the Great Depression almost finished Pitkin.

Upper photo courtesy of Suzy Metzler