At an elevation of 9,242 feet, twenty-eight miles northeast of Gunnison on the Quartz Creek, lies Pitkin, Colorado. Pitkin is located on the old D & S P Railroad line in Gunnison County. Pitkin was founded by Frank Curtiss, George P. Chiles and Wayne Scott in early 1879. Pitkin, originally named Quartzville, was Colorado's first mining camp west of the Continental Divide.
One of Colorado's First Mining Camps
The town, which is situated on an alpine meadow one mile long and one quarter mile wide, was incorporated on August 11, 1879, when it was renamed Pitkin after Governor Frederick W. Pitkin who was a man of prominence and was elected to two terms as Governor of the State of Colorado. Continuous discovery of mines in the vicinity brought Pitkin to life and sustained it for many years. They mainly mined iron, lead, gold, silver, and copper, and were of such richness that as a whole they averaged higher than any camp in Colorado. By July 1881 newcomers were pouring into Pitkin at the rate of 25 per day. By June of 1882 there were over 60 business houses and 300-400 residences, with fewer than a dozen of them empty. It had a population of over 1,000 and the surrounding hills were bursting. In the 1920s and 30s the timber industry and the fish hatchery helped to keep Pitkin alive.
The depression of the 1930s caused further reductions in population to below 100, where it has remained. During the winter of 1997-1998 Pitkin had 80 year-round residents, but summertime brings the count up to between 200 and 300 residents. Pitkin has two stores and several places that have cabins for lodging.