Skip to main content
Histroy, Breckenridge Colorado
Histroy, Breckenridge Colorado

OUR HISTORY

As the largest historic district in Colorado, you can be sure the history of Breckenridge is rich and colorful. Check out Breck’s timeline to discover the places, events and characters that make this the perfect mountain town.

The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance

Learn more about the stories, people and landmarks that make this town so unique and memorable. The BHA also offers guided tours, hikes and events for those who want a chance to experience the town's past firsthand.
 
Visit the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance website
Who the Breck are you?

Summer 1859

Gold is discovered along the Blue River and a base camp, which is established as Breckenridge shortly thereafter. 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.

1859

The Gold Pan Saloon is established as a rough-and-ready bar for miners. Today, the bar is still in business at 103 N. Main St. in Breckenridge, and stands proud as the oldest continuously-operated bar west of the Mississippi.

1860

Breckenridge gets a post office to serve the more than 8,000 miners and merchants who flock to the area.

Breckenridge has Character(s)

A miner's widow living in Breckenridge in the 1860s, Sylvia is one of Breckenridge's most enduring personalities. She occupied a women's boarding house on Main Street and many believe she still occupies the building. She was said to be a prospector herself (though of suitors, not gold), but failed to strike it rich and passed away alone. Today, visitors can try to spot Sylvia themselves at the former boarding house, which is now Après Handcrafted Libations, located at 130 S. Main St. Local lore suggests that she only reveals herself to males, still in hopes of finding a mate.

1869

Breckenridge Navy is founded by "Captain" Sam Adams. In seeking a water route from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, Adams leads four boats on an ill-fated trip from the Blue River to the Colorado River before hopes are abandoned.

Breckenridge has Character(s) 2

Professor Edwin Carter was a Breckenridge local from 1859 to the century's end and a naturalist who spent his life collecting as well as preserving area wildlife samples. Carter eventually passed away from arsenic poisoning received from the chemicals used in his taxidermy process. His entire animal collection was bequeathed to the City of Denver, and his gift was the foundation of the Denver Museum of Natural History. In addition, many pieces can still be seen in Breckenridge at the Edwin Carter Museum located at 111 N. Ridge St.

1879

Father John L. Dyer, the "Snowshoe Itinerant Preacher," founds his Methodist church in Breckenridge. Dyer spends winters on his 12-foot-long wooden skis, traveling between mining camps to preach. The church he founded is located at 310 Wellington Road and still holds services today.

1882

The railroad arrives in Breckenridge. South Park & Pacific Railroad Company lay rail tracks over what is now Boreas Pass Road. Today visitors can view original narrow gauge rail cars, including a rotary snowplow, coal tender and two boxcars, at the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison Railway Park, located at 189 Boreas Pass Road.

1887

"Tom's Baby," a 13.5 pound gold nugget is 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.

1898

"The Big Snow" comes to Breckenridge. Snow falls everyday from November through February, stopping all trains from visiting Breckenridge for months and forcing residents to dig tunnels to travel through town.

Breckenridge has Character(s) 3

Barney and Julia Lancelot Ford were two runaway slaves who lived in Breckenridge in the late 1880s. 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. 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 still see the couple's historic home at 111 East Washington Ave.

1908

Schoolchildren discover Pug Ryan's treasure near Breckenridge. 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 gang members except for Ryan, who escaped, never to return to claim his prize. The found treasure included a gold watch of the Denver Hotel's owner.

1909

Mining era money funds 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 the Speakeasy Theatre and is located at 103 S. Harris St.

1942

Dredge Boat mining comes to a halt after more than 40 years, when World War II requires all metal be melted down for the war effort. Today, visitors can view where the progress stopped at Maggie Pond, located at the Base of Peak 9, or dine on a reproduced dredge at The Dredge Restaurant, located at 108 Jefferson Ave.

Breckenridge has Character(s)

Tommyknockers were the much feared and revered gremlins that Cornish miners believed inhabited the underground shafts where they were working. Lore suggested the Tommyknockers had a hand in the luck dealt to the miners while underground. Making them upset was believed to cause accidents or death. Today, visitors can see if they can spot one of the Tommyknockers at the Country Boy or Lomax Mine, located at 301 Ski Hill Road, which are open for tours during summer.

1945

The Country Boy Mine ceases operation after a flood. Developed in 1887 and utilized through the years as a gold, silver, lead and zinc mine, it is open today to visitors and provides guided underground tours, gold panning and a view into the past.

1960

Breckenridge continues as the Summit County seat, but the population dips to 393 and town members fear the area will soon be a ghost town.

July 27, 1961

Rounds and Porter Lumber Company of Wichita, Kan. is issued a permit for a new ski area in Breckenridge. Tapping into a new vein of winter sports, the ski area ensures the continuation of the town and the area's history.

Dec. 16, 1961

The Breckenridge Ski Area officially opens with one Heron double chairlift and a short T-bar. Almost 17,000 skier visits are recorded that first season, despite the fact that Interstate 70 was not finished to Summit County yet.

Breckenridge has Character(s)

Trygve Berge, a native Norwegian, serves as the Breckenridge Ski School Director for the resort's first 11 years. Berge was a Norwegian national ski champ in 1955 and founded a ski school with Stein Eriksen prior to relocating to Breckenridge. Today, Berge's legacy is honored at Breckenridge Ski Resort with a run for beginners called Trygve's Run.

1971

Peak 9 opens with two double chairs and 12 trails. Skier visits for the 1971-72 season total 221,000, compared to 17,000 during the 1961-62 season.

1978

Colorado's first alpine slide begins operation on Peak 8.

Breckenridge has Character(s) 2

C.J. "Crazy John" Mueller is widely known as one of the fastest men on earth for his speed skiing abilities, with three separate world-record speed skiing titles in the 1980s. This speedy Breckenridge local was an original member of the first (and only) U.S. Olympic Speed Skiing Team. John lived up to his title by regularly skiing in excess of 100 mph. CJ's legacy lives on with numerous posters around the area, known as the town's fastest resident.

1981

Breckenridge installs 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.

1984

Breckenridge becomes Colorado's first major resort to allow snowboarding.

1985

Breckenridge's third interconnected mountain, Peak 10, opens and the resort hosts the worlds first Snowboarding World Cup.

1993

Peak 7, the ski area's fourth interconnected mountain, opens for hiking access and glade skiing.

1997


Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort are merged with Vail and Beaver Creek to form Vail Resorts, the largest mountain resort company in North America at the time.

1998


$18 million is invested into on-mountain improvements—including two new high-speed quads—which is the most money invested in the resort's 37-year history.

1999

Another $14 million is invested for construction of Ten Mile Station on Peak 9 and more improvements. Breckenridge celebrates setting a record as the country's most popular ski resort that season, with almost 1.3 million skier visits.

Breckenridge has Character(s) 3

Breckenridge local and snowboard legend Todd Richards lived in the area for more than 10 years. Well known as a medalist in the 1998 Olympics and numerous X Games, Richards was a member of the Breckenridge Freeride Team and could often be seen in the Breckenridge Terrain Park on Peak 8.

1999-2000

The country's highest-capacity lift and first double-loading six-passenger chairlift, the Quicksilver Super 6 opens at Breckenridge, replacing the world's first high-speed quad. For a second straight year, Breckenridge is the most-visited resort in the U.S., tabulating over 1.4 million skier visits.
2002

Breckenridge increases intermediate terrain by 30 percent with the Peak 7 expansion, adding seven new trails and the six-person Independence SuperChair. The new Peak 8 SuperConnect transports visitors from Peak 9 to Peak 8 with incredible speed.

2005

The Imperial Express chairlift, the highest lift in North America at 12,840 feet, opens to the public.

2007

The BreckConnect gondola opens to the public and links the town to the Peak 8 base area.

2010

The GoldRunner Coaster, an alpine coaster on Peak 8, debuts offering an on-mountain thrill for both winter and summer.

2011-2012

Breckenridge celebrates its 50th anniversary with a season full of events, surprises and a 50 wishes campaign for guests.

2013

Breckenridge opens Peak 6 on Christmas Day, representing one of the largest and most notable ski area terrain expansions in North America in the past decade. The opening is one of the most important landmark events in Breck history, as the resort adds over 540 acres to its famous landscape via the Peak 6 expansion. Peak 6 includes 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain, representing a 23% increase in the resort’s skiable acreage. This expansion features high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing—a rare find in North America.

2016

A new on-mountain dining experience, Pioneer Crossing, opens on Peak 7.

Summer 2017

Epic Discovery opens with ziplines, an on-mountain climbing wall and interpretive displays to enhance the summer experience for guests.