Red Cliff (1879, 8,750 feet) was founded after silver strikes on Battle Mountain drew a swarm of miners from Leadville. They found a place level enough to plat a town where the Eagle River Canyon broadened at its junction with Homestake and Turkey creeks. By 1881 Red Cliff boasted a railroad, a sawmill, five hotels, and an opera house. Despite its fast start, Red Cliff never exceeded a population of 900 and, in 1921, lost the county seat to Eagle. The town has become a home not only for miners, but also for maids, bartenders, and construction workers laboring elsewhere. Metal-roofed, slab-sided buildings cling to the mountain-side in disarray. Miner's shacks, log cabins, vernacular false-fronted commercial buildings, and a one-room schoolhouse make this a more authentic relic of the mining frontier than more fashionable mining towns reborn as ski resorts with streets of cute, colorfully frosted gingerbread buildings.
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