Monarch, formerly called Chaffee, takes its name from 11,312-foot Monarch Pass, four miles to the west. This tiny D&RG railroad town, which boasted the biggest limestone quarry in the state, is now gone. The Madonna Mine, oldest and richest of Chaffee County mines, is one of many historic structures along U.S. 50 as it climbs Monarch Pass. The Monarch Ski Area is on the east side of the pass, and the Monarch Pass Visitors Center is at the top. The latter is an earth-sheltered structure with a granite and glass front for a U.S. Forest Service information station and the Monarch Aerial Tramway.
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