The Yule Quarry began operations in 1895, and played a significant role in the industrialization of the Crystal Valley. The quarry assumed ownership of the Crystal Railroad in 1918 and was the primary reason for its continuing operation until abandonment in 1941. The Lincoln Monument and the Tomb of the Unknown are perhaps the most famous products pulled from Treasury Mountain and sent down the rails before both ceased operations in 1941.
Unlike the railroad, the quarry came back to life in modern times, resuming mining in 1989. In 2011, the quarry was purchased by the Red Graniti group from Carrara, Italy. The Carrara Quarries boast of producing 4,000,000 tons of marble annually. The scale of the impact on Italy’s Apuan Alps is far far beyond what most Crystal residents would expect from the heretofore quaint historic operations in Marble.
One might rather picture the large open pit mines of Kentucky, where “Mr. Peabody’s Coal train hauled it away.” See “Inside Italy's $1 Billion Marble Mountains” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PcOPVYb7EQ
Unbeknownst to most Crystal Valley residents, in 2016, the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) approved an eleven-fold increase in the scale of Red Graniti’s operations, from 10 acres to a total 124 permitted acres; a 114 acre expansion. The operation is now doing business as Colorado Stone Quarries (CSQ) and we are getting our first taste of the dramatic increase in the intensity of use.
Yule Creek is a perennial tributary to the Crystal River, characterized by a series of step-pools, chutes, and waterfalls. USFS lands lie adjacent to the quarry site, and the Raggeds Wilderness is directly upstream. Given the steep slopes and short growing season, such creeks are inherently fragile.
Yule Problems Begin
Beginning in November of 2018, and with no permits, CSQ diverted approximately 1,600 linear feet of the creek through a constructed channel that flows approximately 1,700 linear feet around the east side of Franklin Ridge. (There is some evidence the Creek had been on that side in geologic time.) After forcing the stream to the east, the creek bed was buried under approximately 97,000 cubic yards of waste rock and other materials to create a new road access to the existing mining operation and to facilitate surface mining of Franklin Ridge itself.
The Destruction of Yule Creek by Colorado Stone Quarries Marble, CO 2018 - Video Documentary by Maciej Mrotek
Army Corp of Engineers Refusal to Hold Public Hearing- Sopris Sun article by John Armstrong, CVEPA President
US Army Corp of Engineers Denies Request for Public Hearing - Aspen Journalism article by Heather Sackett