There's Gold in Them Hills
During your sleigh ride you may notice the signs of bygone industry; old loading roads, gravel ridges, or even the odd dredge. Single miners and small prospecting companies first settled Breckenridge One such outfit, the George E. Spencer prospecting company, officially founded the town in 1859. It has been bandied about that Spencer named the town after then current vice-president, John Breckinridge in a bid to be given a post office more quickly. After a short period of growth and good fortune the town saw a drastic population decline during the Civil War. The beleaguered settlement of 51 people survived long enough to find renewed prosperity with the advent of hydraulic mining in the early 1870s.. The large scale prospecting culture continued well into the early 1900s, aided by the discovery of substantial silver and lead deposits, and advancements in dredge mining. All told the Breckenridge area yielded almost one million troy ounces of gold alone!
All Seemed Downhill
The mid 1900s were hard years for Breckenridge. Dredge mining did not survive the war era and businesses failed as a result. Many of the original buildings were torn down for use as scrap and firewood. Residents were moving out in great numbers and by 1950 the town was home to a scant 300 people. The patience of those few hangers-on was rewarded in 1961 with the opening of the Breckenridge Ski Area. The resort's pristine air and close proximity to Denver insured a steady flow of outdoor pleasure seekers. The recreational tourist industry breathed new life into the area and now sees over one million skiers a year. In addition to famous slopes and cozy, jingling sleigh rides, Breckenridge offers many other winter/summer activities; ice-skating, snowshoeing, mountain biking, kayaking etc.
Loving the Present
In 2009 "Breck" celebrated its 150th anniversary with a proper bash. The town has survived many hardships and periods of uncertainty to become what it is today and does not take this for granted. Festivals and events are hosted throughout the calendar year, many of which have a history all their own. Scheduled events include the Breckenridge Film Festival, Celebrity Golf Tournament, Ullrfest, Oktoberfest, Lighting of Breckenridge, and an International Snow Sculpture Championship! To think...a century ago you would have found a giant dredge plowing up main street looking for ore!
So, dear reader, as you sip your cocoa and enjoy your Breckenridge sleigh ride, take a look around, imagine the old days and old ways that shaped this countryside, and pat yourself on the back for helping to keep this beautiful place on the map. Just mind you don't spill your drink!