Certainly the coal mining industry is an unusual partner for a Colorado ski town, but for Crested Butte, coal and skiing are inseparably intertwined. Crested Butte is the story of poor immigrants, labor strife, dirty and extremely dangerous coal mining, the D&RG Railroad, and two rich and greedy companies called the Durango Trust and Colorado Fuel and Iron. Duane Smith illustrates how such a mixture can make for an amazing tale of intrigue, joy, and sorrow. As Smith puts it: "Americans tend to make legends out of things they want to believe. We have tended to glorify gold and silver camps, while ignoring the immigrant and company-dominated coal community."
Unlike many coal towns, Crested Butte is a true Cinderella story. She was not left to die unrecognized in her squalor. She has become a premier ski town - the queen of the ball.