Nathan Torres ’03 (far left) and Cooper Best ’09 (fourth from left) are helping shore up The Crystal Mill, an oft-photographed Colorado landmark entered in the National Register of Historic Places. Working with other volunteers from the structural group at the engineering firm SGM in nearby Glenwood Springs, the team treated the exterior with preservative and conducted fire mitigation in 2012. This summer they had planned to build a coffer dam and reinforce the base of the penstock, but after an investigative dive revealed the work was not necessary, the team focused on completing a 3D scan/survey of the structure and making minor repairs.
Torres uses his 1988 Land Cruiser (left, newly outfitted with Mines plates) to access the site, which is 5 miles up a rough 4WD trail. “The fun part of this particular project is that I get to combine my engineering skills and personal skills, climbing and diving,” says Torres. “The icing on the cake is that we actually get to review, design and then physically implement our engineered solutions.” The mill, originally called Sheep Mountain Powerhouse, was built in 1892 to supply compressed air to a nearby silver mine. It was abandoned when the mine closed in 1917.