The City of Creede is the largest town, the smallest town, and the only town in Mineral County, Colorado. A former mining town nestled in the San Juan Mountains near the headwaters of the Rio Grande, Creede was one of the last mining boom towns in Colorado and its rich silver mines were in continuous operation from the 1890’s until 1985.
Photo by Lowell Morgan; used with permission.
An Historic Mining Town
Starting in the early 1890’s when silver was discovered in Willow Creek Canyon, the city grew quickly in a few short years to a population of over 10,000 people. During those days about half the residents were miners and the other half were a combination of bunko artists, mining sharks, saloon keepers, dance hall girls, professional gamblers, riffraff and of course a few ordinary good citizens. Creede was a wild and sometimes dangerous place.
Before the devastating fire of 1892, Creede had grown to a thriving city. Schools and two active opera houses provided entertainment. Several banks were founded and a weekly newspaper kept everyone updated on all the activity. The city even had daily rail service on the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.
Creede’s future was forever altered when in 1893 Congress passed the Silver Act, lowering the price of silver from $1.29 to 50 cents per ounce. Though the mines remained open until 1985, the city’s boom days were over; but during its heyday, Creede earned a lasting reputation as one of the richest and wildest of the Colorado mining camps.
Today Creede is a magical little town surrounded by soaring mountains and, everywhere, evidence of the old mines. Many of our town’s businesses and buildings carry names reminiscent of the Creede’s early mining history.
Cultural opportunities are unprecedented for a community the size of Creede. The nationally recognized Creede Repertory Theater produces a number of plays and programs each season, bringing in student and professional actors and technicians from around the country and playing to sellout crowds. The Creede Arts Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding the arts in Mineral County, brings exceptional music and art programs to the area. The Creede/Mineral County Arts and Recreation program provides opportunities for both adults and youth to participate in activities and classes. A unique underground mining museum and a historical museum in the old train depot offer a chance to experience Creede’s history.
The People of Creede
Today (almost all) the 850 or so year-round residents of Creede and Mineral County form a close group of open, friendly and accepting individuals with a real sense of community. During the summers our population swells to thousands.
The town is welcoming to the scores of hunters, fishermen and summer visitors, many of whom are retirees with homes in the area. Many seasonal visitors are families that have been coming to Creede for generations. These part-time residents also have a strong attachment to Creede and are an integral part of the town and of the Creede Community Church.