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Marble (1890, 7,950 feet) is near the place on Yule Creek, along the headwaters of the Crystal River, where George Yule found an outcropping of high-grade white marble in 1874. Marble's quarriers exhibited their 99-percent-pure calcium carbonate at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, where the popularity of the classical buildings helped create a national market for the fine Carrara-like marble. Mule sleds were used to haul the stone to the D&RG railhead in Carbondale until the Crystal River & San Juan Railroad reached Marble in 1906. The town produced the largest single chunk of marble ever quarried in the United States, used for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia.

Colorado briefly rivaled Vermont and Tennessee for marble production before Marble's quarries closed in 1941. They reopened on a limited scale in 1991 as builders once again began to fancy this fine native stone. The dirt-streeted, fading town has been partly repossessed by aspen and conifers. Buildings are few and far between; most of the town has been wiped out by avalanches and mudslides, which have sometimes left exposed marble foundations as souvenirs. Today only a handful of residents live year round in a town that once housed some 1,300 people.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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