Some sources say it was 1877…others 1878. It matter’s little, the important thing is that Howard Smith first grasped the importance of Crested Butte as a central point between Gothic, Elkton, Pittsburg, Schofield and the most famous, Ruby/Irwin.
Smith saw that most important factor, location, and decided to build a sawmill here to supply timber for the mines and building. Tony Mihelich remembers Ender’s Sawmill a couple of miles up Kebler Pass…no one seems to know the exact location of Smith’s Sawmill.
Crested Butte lacks one major construction element. We have only two non wood structures in town built before the turn of the Century…The Old Rock School House and The Old Town Jail, both built from local sandstone. The lower expense and ready supply of milled wood made for a town built almost entirely of wood. It’s no wonder we’ve had 3 major fires wiping out entire parts of the town!
The town may very well have been called Smithville…or mayber even Smith’s Mill.
Sources: “When Coal Was King” by Duane A. Smith and Tony Mihelich.