George Adams, owner of the Baca Grant and founder of Crestone was a Civil War veteran who got his start roasting peanuts in a new-fangled machine on Larimer Street in Denver after the war. He worked as a cowboy on the Baca Grant and homesteaded north of the Grant on Rita Alto or San Isabel Creek. Eventually he was able to purchase the Grant and develop it by fencing it with barbed wire. This was one of the first large ranches in the west to be fenced. He began building the prize-winning Hereford herd the Grant was notable for.
Around 1900 Adams approached Philadelphia investors with a proposition to develop gold mining in the area. The most promising mine, the Independence, was developed and a railroad built to Crestone and to the gold prospects on the Grant. Production at the Independence fell well short of expectations and the short-lived boom, when Crestone "had a population of 2,000," soon fizzled out and the long slow decline in activity and population which left Crestone with a population of 40 in 1960 began.