Breckenridge, Colorado- History Laden with Gold
Breckenridge History and Tourism Information.
There's Gold Up in Them Hills.
From a small mountain community captivated by the
prospects of gold to a world renowned Colorado ski
resort and vacation destination, the establishment of Breckenridge through the mining years
provided many interconnected trails in the surrounding mountains. This
trail system now serves avid cross-country skiers, snowshoers, mountain
bikers, hikers and nature lovers and is widely
used by locals and visitors alike. Breckenridge continues to carve its
Breckenridge in 1859
The story of Breckenridge began
back in the summer of 1859. Miners discovered gold along the Blue River near Breckenridge,
The discovery led to a small community. While none of this base camp
remains today, Breckenridge does contain more than 350 historic structures,
making it the largest
historic district in the state of Colorado. Along with these
structures, the infamous
Gold Pan Saloon was established as a rough-and-ready bar for the miners.
Today, the Gold Pan is still in business at 103 North Main
Street in Breckenridge and stands proud as the oldest continuously operated bar
West of the Mississippi.
From "Breckinridge" to "Breckenridge"
The town of Breckenridge was formally created in November 1859 by General George E. Spencer. Spencer
chose the name Breckinridge after the United States' Vice
President of the time, John
C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, in
the hopes of flattering the government and gaining a post
office. Spencer succeeded in his plan and a post office was built
in Breckinridge. It was the first post office between the Continental
Divide and Salt
Lake City, UT.
However, when the Civil
War broke out in 1861, the 40-year-old former vice president sided
with the Confederates (as
general) and the pro-Union citizens of Breckinridge decided to
change the town's name. The second i was changed to an e,
and the town's name has been spelled Breckenridge ever since.
Breckenridge in 1879-
Father John L. Dyer, the "Snowshoe Itinerant Preacher," founded
his Methodist church in Breckenridge. Dyer spends winters on his twelve-foot-long
wooden skis, traveling between mining camps to preach. The church he
founded is located at 310 Wellington and still holds services today.
Breckenridge in 1882-
The railroad arrived in Breckenridge. South Park & Pacific Railroad
Company laid rail tracks over what is current day Boreas Pass Road. Today
visitors can view original narrow gauge rail cars, including a rotary
snowplow, a coal tender and two boxcars, at the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison
Railway Park located at 189 Boreas Pass Road. Boreas Pass Road also provides
splendid snowshoeing & mountain biking trails with panoramic views of
the town of Breckenridge & the Breckenridge
Breckenridge in 1887-
"Tom's Baby" a 13.5 pound gold nugget was discovered near Breckenridge
by local miners Tom Graves and Harry Lytton. Tom's Baby is now on display at
the Colorado Museum of Natural History in Denver.
Breckenridge in 1898-
"The Big Snow" came to Breckenridge. Snow fell everyday from November
through February forcing residents to dig tunnels to travel through town and
stopping all trains from visiting Breckenridge for months.
The Barney Ford Family
Barney & Julia Lancelot Ford were two runaway slaves who lived in
Breckenridge in the late 1880's. Barney was successful in mining in
his early days in Breckenridge, but was bilked of his fortune by his
lawyers who took advantage of the fact that African Americans were unable
to own property in Colorado at the time. Barney and Julia didn't accept
this fate, however. Instead, they worked to guarantee rights for African-Americans
in the Colorado Constitution and returned to Breckenridge to gain a new
fortune running the upscale Denver Hotel and Ford's Chop House. Visitors
can see the couple's historic home at 225 South Main Street in Breckenridge.
Breckenridge in 1908-
School children discovered Pug Ryan's treasure near Breckenridge. Pug Ryan
and his gang robbed the Denver Hotel in Breckenridge in 1898, making
off with considerable loot. The robbery resulted in a shoot-out and
the death of all the gang members except Pug who escaped--never to
return to claim his prize. The found treasure included the gold watch
of the Denver Hotel's owner.
Breckenridge in 1909-
Mining era money funded the building of the stately brick K-12 schoolhouse,
complete with an indoor swimming pool and pressed-tin ceilings. Today,
the building is inhabited by Colorado Mountain College and Speakeasy
Theatre and is located at 103 South Harris Street.
Breckenridge in 1942-
Dredge Boat mining came to a halt after more than 40 years when World
War II required all metal be melted down for the war effort. Today
visitors can view where the progress stopped at Maggie Pond at the
Base of Peak 9 or eat on a reproduced dredge at The Dredge Restaurant
located at 108 Jefferson Avenue.
Breckenridge in 1945-
The Country Boy Mine ceased operation after a flood. Developed in 1887
and utilized through the years as a gold, silver, lead and zinc mine,
today the mine is open to visitors and provides guided underground
tours, gold panning and a view into the past.
Breckenridge in 1960-
Breckenridge continued as the Summit County seat, but the population
dips to 393 and town members fear the area will soon be a ghost town.
Breckenridge in July 27, 1961-
Rounds and Porter Lumber Company of Wichita, Kansas were issued a permit
for a new ski area in Breckenridge. Tapping into a new "vein" of
winter sports, the ski area ensured the continuation of the town and
the area's history.
Breckenridge in December 16, 1961-
The Breckenridge Ski Area officially opened with one Heron double chairlift
and a short T-bar. Almost 17,000 skier visits were recorded that first
season, despite the fact that Interstate 70 was still not complete
to Summit County.
Breckenridge in 1971-
Peak 9 opened with two double chairs and 12 trails. Skier visits for the
1971-72 totaled 221,000, compared to 17,000 during the 1961-62 season.
Breckenridge in 1978-
Colorado's first alpine slide began operation on
Breckenridge in 1981-
Breckenridge installed the world's first high-speed quad chairlift on
Peak 9. The lift, capable of transporting 2,800 skiers per hour, started
the industry's high-speed quad revolution.
Breckenridge in 1984-
Breckenridge became Colorado's first major resort to allow snowboarding.
Breckenridge in 1985-
Breckenridge's third interconnected mountain, Peak 10, opened and the
resort hosted the world's first Snowboarding World Cup.
Breckenridge in 1993-
Peak 7, the ski area's fourth interconnected mountain, opened for hiking
access and glade skiing.
Breckenridge in 1997-
Breckenridge Ski Resort and
Keystone Resort merged with Vail and
Beaver Creek to form Vail Resorts, the largest mountain resort company
in North America at the time.
Breckenridge in 1998-
$18 million is invested into on-mountain improvements, including two
new high-speed quads--the most in the resort's 37-year history.
Breckenridge in 1999-
Another $14 million invested included construction of Ten
Mile Station on Peak 9. Breckenridge celebrated being the country's most popular
ski resort that season with a record 1,392,242 skier visits.
Breckenridge in 1999-2000-
The country's highest-capacity lift and first double-loading six-passenger
chairlift, the Quicksilver Super6 opened at Breckenridge, replacing
the world's first high-speed quad. For a second straight year, Breckenridge
was the most-visited resort in the U.S., tabulating 1,441,000 skier
Breckenridge in 2002-
Breckenridge increased intermediate terrain by 30 percent with the Peak
7 expansion, adding seven new trails and the six-person Independence
Super Chair. The new Peak 8 Super Connect transports visitors from
Peak 9 to Peak 8 with incredible speed.
Breckenridge in 2005-
Breckenridge Ski Resort constructed the Imperial
Express SuperChair. The Imperial Express Superchair is the highest
high-speed quad in North America,
reaching an elevation of 12,840 feet and transporting skiers and
riders to the top of Breckenridge’s challenging Peak 8. The Imperial
Express Superchair accesses some
of Breckenridge’s most amazing intermediate and expert terrain in
just under two minutes.
Breckenridge in 2006
Breckenridge built new Gondola which allows access
from the parking lots in the town of Breckenridge to base
of Peak 7 & 8. Breckenridge
added more terrain to its already massive mountain. With the
addition of the new "Snow White" terrain, Breckenridge increases
its skiable terrain by 150 acres.
The Future of Breckenridge
Breckenridge continues to
push the boundaries of what a perfect mountain town can be. With an already
impressive variety of amenities, Breckenridge will continue to write
its own history laden in golden memories.
To begin planning your golden vacation
to Breckenridge visit our Breckenridge Planning Guide.