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Gunnison History Tracker
QUARTZ
Milepost "A" Elevation 9,641 

 The townsite of Quartz serves as the western terminus of the Alpine Tunnel Historic District. This town was originally formed in 1879 as part of the Quartz Creek Mining District and later the Quartz Town Company. The arrival of the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad and the construction of the Tin Cup road in 1882 caused the settlement to boom.  


 Quartz became home to the Gunnison Ore Sampling Works, several saloons, two stores, hotel, dance hall and numerous log cabins. The railroad built a 2,413-foot rail siding that included a unique feature... two derelict box cars that served as the town jail... and constructed a coal house, eight room section house, tool shed, outhouses and telegraph office.  



 The demise of Quartz came in three definitive steps. (1) Like other silver dependent towns, Quartz prospered until the 1893 silver panic, (2) The abandonment of the eastward tracks through the Alpine Tunnel in 1910. The town received a temporary reprieve as mineral commerce was replaced by the timber industry producing telegraph poles, railroad ties and mine props. (3) The final blow came in 1934 with the total removal of the railroad.  


 Filling Stations  

 Water tanks were common sights along the railroad. They provided needed water that locomotives used to generate steam. Coal-fed fires kept water simmering, steaming and the trains rolling. Loaded "tenders", the small car behind the engine, carried huge amounts of coal and approximately 2,200 gallons of water. As the water was depleted, it needed to be replenished.  

 Depending on the grade and the weight of the load being hauled, stops were usually placed 30 miles apart. However, because of the hard mountain climb between Quartz and the tunnel, three water tanks were needed to service the railroad, particularly during winter operations. Water tanks were originally located at Midway, Woodstock and the Alpine Tunnel house.  

 Tanks were placed below natural streams or springs and fed by gravity. The tanks' spout, hinged upright in its resting position, was lowered into the open hatch on top of the tender. A "flap valve" in the spout opened to release water into the trains' tender. The entire operation took only a few minutes.