Settlers looking for precious metals were in the area as early as 1874. As the number of mining camps grew, Crested Butte thrived as a supply center, and the town was incorporated in 1880. As the gold and silver played out, the mining of nearby high quality bituminous coal supported the economy. The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company and its predecessors developed coal mines and coke ovens, making the Crested Butte area the state’s leading mountain coal operation by 1882.
While English, American, and Northern European settlers arrived first, by 1900, Croatian, Italian, and Slavic miners made up the overwhelming majority of the labor force. Buildings in the district primarily date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Wood served as the most prevalent building material, and numerous well preserved false front commercial properties remain in use. Dwellings generally reflect simple design, small scale, and limited ornamentation. An interesting variety of secondary buildings remains intact along many of the alleys. Since the major coal mines shut down in 1952, Crested Butte has become a tourist center for sightseers in the summer and skiers in the winter. The property is associated with the Mining Industry in Colorado Multiple Property Submission.