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Creede, Colorado
City of Creede
Downtown Creede
Downtown Creede
There is no night in Creede!
Location of the City of Creede in the Mineral County, Colorado.
Location of the City of Creede in the Mineral County, Colorado.
Creede, Colorado is located in the United States
Creede, Colorado
Creede, Colorado
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Colorado
County Mineral County seat
Incorporated May 19, 1892
 • Type Statutory Town
 • Total 0.950 sq mi (2.460 km2)
 • Land 0.950 sq mi (2.460 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0.000 km2)
8,799 ft (2,682 m)
 • Total 257
 • Density 377/sq mi (146/km2)
Time zone UTC−07:00 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−06:00 (MDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 719
FIPS code 08-14765
GNIS feature ID 2412384
Website City website

The historic City of Creede is (despite its official name) the Statutory Town that is the county seat, the most populous community, and the only incorporated municipality in Mineral County, Colorado, United States. The town population was 257 at the 2020 United States Census.


Creede, Bachelor Loop mine
Old mine on the Bachelor Loop historic driving tour [1]
Creede, 1942
Creede in 1942, photo by Andreas Feininger

Travelers to this area appeared in the early 19th century. Tom Boggs, a brother-in-law of Kit Carson, farmed at Wagon Wheel Gap in the summer of 1840. The first silver discovery was made at the Alpha mine in 1869, but the silver could not be extracted at a profit from the complex ores. Ranchers and homesteaders moved in when stagecoach stations (linking the mining operations over the Divide with the east) were built in the 1870s, but the great “Boom Days” started with the discovery of rich minerals in Willow Creek Canyon in 1889.

Creede was the last silver boom town in Colorado in the 19th century. The town leapt from a population of 600 in 1889 to more than 10,000 people in December 1891. The Creede mines operated continuously from 1890 until 1985, and were served by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.

The original townsite of Creede was located on East Willow Creek just above its junction with West Willow Creek. Below Creede were Stringtown, Jimtown, and Amethyst. The Willow Creek site was soon renamed Creede after Nicholas C. Creede who discovered the Holy Moses Mine. Soon the entire town area from East Willow to Amethyst was called Creede.

At the same time that Creede was booming, the capital city of Denver, Colorado was experiencing a major legal reform movement against gambling clubs and saloons. Numerous owners of major gambling houses in Denver quickly relocated to Creede's business district. One of these relocators was the infamous confidence man Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith. Soapy became the uncrowned king of Creede's criminal underworld, and opened the Orleans Club. Other famous people in Creede were Robert Ford (the man who killed outlaw Jesse James), Bat Masterson, and William Sidney "Cap" Light (the first deputy sheriff in Creede, and brother-in-law of Soapy Smith). On June 5, 1892 a major fire destroyed most of the business district. Three days later, on June 8, Ed O'Kelley walked into Robert Ford's makeshift tent-saloon and shot him dead. The town of Creede was incorporated on June 13, 1892, but the anti-gambling reform movement in Denver had ceased, and the Denver businessmen moved back to their old stomping grounds.

Creede’s boom lasted until 1893, when the Silver Panic hit all of the silver mining towns in Colorado. The price of silver plummeted and most of the silver mines were closed. Creede never became a ghost town, although the boom was over and its population declined. After 1900, Creede stayed alive by relying increasingly on lead and zinc in the ores. Total production through 1966 was 58 million troy ounces (870 metric tons) of silver, 150 thousand ounces (4.7 metric tons) of gold, 112 thousand metric tons of lead, 34 thousand metric tons of zinc, and 2 million metric tons of copper.


20110930-FS-UNK-0006 - Flickr - USDAgov
Shallow Creek, west of Creede, CO

Creede is located at 37°50′58″N 106°55′34″W / 37.84944°N 106.92611°W / 37.84944; -106.92611 (37.849311, -106.925983) near the headwaters of the Rio Grande, which flows through the San Juan Mountains and the San Luis Valley on its way to New Mexico, Texas, and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico.

The river has played a critical role in the development of farming and ranching in the Valley. The Rio Grande and its tributary trout streams provide excellent opportunities for fly fishermen and its unspoiled headwaters in the Weminuche Wilderness are a favorite for hikers.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2), all of it land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 938
1910 741 −21.0%
1920 500 −32.5%
1930 384 −23.2%
1940 670 74.5%
1950 503 −24.9%
1960 350 −30.4%
1970 653 86.6%
1980 610 −6.6%
1990 362 −40.7%
2000 377 4.1%
2010 290 −23.1%
2020 257 −11.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 377 people, 181 households, and 106 families residing in the town. The population density was 622.4 people per square mile (238.6/km2). There were 275 housing units at an average density of 454.0 per square mile (174.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.82% White, 1.33% Native American, and 1.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.59% of the population.

There were 181 households, out of which 19.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.4% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.4% were non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.70.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 19.1% under the age of 18, 5.0% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 33.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $30,893, and the median income for a family was $34,125. Males had a median income of $27,250 versus $17,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,801. About 12.2% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.0% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those age 65 or over.

Popular culture

The gambler Poker Alice lived for a time in Creede as well as several other locations in Colorado.

In the 1976 film The Shootist, terminally ill gun fighter J.B. Books (portrayed by John Wayne) relates that he had just seen a "sawbones" (slang for a doctor or surgeon) in Creede when questioned about his symptoms.

The final scene in the 2007 drama The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (as well as the real-life event it depicts) takes place in a saloon in Creede, where Robert Ford (played by Casey Affleck) is gunned down by Edward O'Kelley 10 years after Ford killed Jesse James (portrayed by Brad Pitt). The scene itself was shot on a $1 million set in Alberta that recreated much of 19th century Creede.

Scenes from the action Western film Lone Ranger (2013 film), starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp and directed by Gore Verbinski, were filmed in locations in and around Creede. The Train Scene was filmed on trains belonging to Creede Railroad Company.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Creede para niños

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