Crestone (1880, 7,863 feet) was founded as a gold mining camp on a spectacular foothills site at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As miners rushed in and gold poured out, the D&RG built a spur from Moffat. The town, located on the edge of a land grant, was named for the jagged, 14,294-foot Crestone (Spanish, cock's comb) Peak towering over the east edge of town. Galena, the main street, is dominated by the two-story false-fronted frame San Luis Valley Bank and Assay Office (1886), at the southeast corner of Alder and Galena streets, with a corner storefront that now houses the Twenty-First Amendment Liquor Store. Willow-shaded side streets lead to perhaps fifty log and frame cottages.
In recent decades Crestone has attracted religious communities and groups, including Zen Buddhist and Carmelite monasteries and actress Shirley MacLaine's New Age retreat. Environmentalist Maurice Strong has been instrumental in attracting diverse groups to the area, including the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies and a Colorado College extension campus. The private estate of Najeeb Halaby contains a prayer tower inspired by an ancient Assyrian ziggurat design, with a spiral stairway contained by stuccoed walls rising to an open prayer platform.
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