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Twin Lakes is located on Highway 82 at the base of Independence Pass. La Plata Peak and Mt Elbert tower over the valley which contains two of Colorado’s largest glacier-carved lakes. The Twin Lakes were twice dammed and expanded for water storage and irrigation use.
Twin Lakes marks the site of Dayton, Lake’s first county seat, and one of the earliest placer mining camps in the central Rockies. The Cache Creek Ditch and Arlington Ditch were both dug to move water to use for hydraulic mining. As the easy gold played out, the prospectors moved on to other gold camps and the county seat moved with them.
In the late 1870s, Twin Lakes became a tourist destination and an important stop on the road to the Aspen gold and silver mines. Inter-Laken, on the south shore, was the largest resort. Its buildings are still accessible by foot, boat, or mountain bike.
Most of the buildings in Twin Lakes are historic. There is a cemetery behind the village.
The historic district site is on the south side of Highway 82, with a bathroom and picnic area. A path winds between interpretive signs and several old log structures. In the summer, a visitor center provides additional information.