Chalk Creek - History


The river has a history tied to the gold and silver rush in Colorado in the 1800s. Along the river, several towns sprouted along with the influx of gold prospectors. St. Elmo, Hancock, and Alpine are towns that were founded and flourished with the gold rush. The Mary Murphy Mine, one of the most productive mineral mines in Colorado, is located in Chalk Creek canyon.

The Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad had a rail route that wound up Chalk Creek canyon into the Alpine Tunnel. The tunnel was built to allow trains to transport ore and supplies to and from the town of Gunnison, Colorado, located on the western side of the Continental Divide. The rail route was closed once the gold rush declined, and the Alpine Tunnel has since been sealed to prevent injury.

With the decline of the gold rush in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the towns in Chalk Creek canyon withered and became ghost towns. St. Elmo, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been transformed into a tourist destination and has several intact historic buildings.

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