History

Haunted history in Breckenridge: Milne Madhouse, tours bring Halloween to life

October 29, 2013 — 

Visit some historical haunts in Breckenridge for Halloween, starting with a special Breckenridge Haunted Tour tonight.

The 90-minute tour explores the Breckenridge historic district, as a guide tells stories of unexplained phenomenon and intriguing deaths and tales about some of the town’s most notorious inhabitants. Dive deeper into the stories Thursday with a special edition of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance?s Tombstone Tales at Twilight tour through Valley Brook Cemetery.

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Book review: ‘Baby Doe Tabor: The Madwoman in the Cabin’

October 12, 2013 — 

Her life reads like a modern day soap opera, her soft doe eyes tantalizing us from the few photos that remain. Nearly a century has passed since the death of Colorado icon Elizabeth Doe Tabor, celebrated by her moniker, Baby Doe, yet she continues to fascinate.

To most, she is remembered as a wealthy seductress, known for bucking the social mores of the late Victorian era and for leading an extravagant lifestyle that her contemporaries both envied and decried as she reveled in her new status alongside her mining magnate husband, Horace Tabor. But as the bottom fell out of the silver industry, and her life fell into ruin, many saw this as just desserts for flaunting a life of excess, and her resulting self-exile as a widow to the remote and unforgiving climate of Leadville seemed divine retribution.

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Summit County saloons: A long tradition of food and drink

September 28, 2013 — 

In an effort to draw customers, saloons advertised widely. Ads in the newspaper touted fresh beer and lots of it from companies such as Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) and Golden (Coors). Patrons purchased bottled and draft beer, as well as wine, cocktails and other mixed drinks.

Perhaps the most famous of those mixed drinks was Cherry Bounce, sold by John Dewers at the Corner Saloon, on the northwest corner of Lincoln and Main streets in Breckenridge. Twelve pounds of mashed sweet cherries were mixed with nine cups of brown sugar and two gallons of rye whiskey, bottled and aged for nine months. Although it could be served at that point, it was even better after as much as five years of aging.

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Historic preservation work continues at Breckenridge’s Valley Brook Cemetery

September 21, 2013 — 

On Halloween 1997, a freak storm with 100 mph winds ripped through Breckenridge’s Valley Brook Cemetery, causing gravestones and hundreds of lodgepole pines to break and topple over. Nearly 16 years after the storm, the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance and town of Breckenridge continue preservation efforts at the historic cemetery.

This week, David Via, a monument conservator from Virginia, will resume the gravestone conservation and maintenance work he started in 2001. Via said the type of work he does depends on what’s needed for each individual gravesite.

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Summit County combines hiking and history on guided tours

September 14, 2013 — 

Summer may be winding down, but it’s not too late to take a guided hike or tour through some of Summit County’s historical landmarks. Here’s a list of tours you might want to check out in the coming weeks.

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Summit County tombstones tell tales

September 6, 2013 — 

He didn’t have an iPhone. He didn’t have a computer with access to Photoshop. He didn’t have a Facebook account. Nevertheless, John Topolnicki was able to record the golden days of autumn in the photos he took and shared with others by postcards distributed nationwide in the 1960s and 1970s. In later years, his son, John Topolnicki Jr., turned over his father’s collections to the Summit Historical Society and Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. As the anniversary of Topolnicki’s 1972 death approaches, both groups are happy to share some of his photo artistry.

Born in 1909 in Elizabeth, N.J., Toplonicki spent his early years there and received his introduction to photography in 1932 when he joined the Army. As a going-away present, his mother gave him a Kodak folding camera. He used it to take pictures of natives in their villages while stationed in Panama. Five years later, while stationed in Fort DuPont, Del., officers noticed his talents and sent him to military photography school. During the World War II years, he was an instructor for both ground and aerial photography at military bases in Hawaii and Colorado.

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‘Dustbowl to Paradise’: An early settler's journey to Frisco

August 30, 2013 — 

Wind and weather dominated daily life when Harold Rutherford was attending school in Eckley, Colo., during the Depression.

“Time and again, the wind would blow the lines down and it would be dark in the school,” Rutherford said. “The teacher would take a rope and hold the ends and have all of her eight or 10 kids get inside the circle and we’d go on the leeward side of the schoolhouse in the dust storm and the wind, and then one by one she’d take us home.”

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The history of bicycling in Summit County and beyond

October 31, 2013 — 

Today, it’s impossible to imagine Summit County without its bikes. With hundreds of miles of trails threading through every nook and cranny of the mountains, the sport of biking brings visitors from all over the world. The upcoming USA Pro Challenge race serves to highlight this fact, with an international eye turned onto this mountain sport and the towns that thrive off it.

“The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Breck Epic, Summit Mountain Challenge and Breck Bike Week all reflect on how important cycling through the centuries has been in Summit County,” said Cindy Hintgen, operations manager at the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. “It has been and continues to be a means of transportation, competition and fun.”

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Choosy ghosts choose Breckenridge

August 16, 2013 — 

Beware the ghost of Starbucks when you’re picking up your next latte. That’s right, rumor has it that the Breckenridge business housed in a historic, yellow home might see paranormal activity from time to time — or at least give off “that feeling” of a ghostly presence.

“We think it’s probably Trevor B. Thomas,” said Niki Harris, tour guide with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. “He was a dredge superintendent who drowned in the Blue River. That building was his home. His wake was held there even though his body was in the water for most of the winter. He was preserved so they were able to do that.”

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Montezuma: Home to one of Colorado's earliest silver strikes

October 31, 2013 — 

The Summit Historical Society will host an open house at the Montezuma Schoolhouse today, allowing visitors to take guided tours of the building and the adjacent cemetery and learn more about the history of the area.

“There will be a hike up to the cemetery, which normally you can’t do because it goes through private property, and there are some interesting things up there,” said Christy Nelson, administrator with the Summit Historical Society.

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Lula Myers: Book, ranch house keep family legacy alive in Summit County

October 31, 2013 — 

As every Summit County resident knows, one can’t venture far without stumbling upon a tumbledown reminder of the pioneers who came before us. Over the past two centuries, they came in droves, laying the groundwork for the community we now call home. Often, though, as time ripples on, those reminders fade, even though they are around us every day, in a vista, a street honorific or a ski-slope name or in reclaimed timbers from some miner’s cabin, shiny with years and his sweat and tears ... or in a little cabin on a quiet street in Dillon, moved to its current home because it was too precious and too symbolic of the county’s roots to let fall to ruin.

That little cabin, now part of the Summit Historical Museum Park, was once home to Dimp and Lula Myers, as chronicled by local writer extraordinaire, Mary Ellen Gilliland, in the charming book “Lula: A Portrait in Pictures and Prose of a Keystone, Colorado Family.”

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Summit Historical Society unveils new history lecture series

July 20, 2013 — 

Anyone who says that history is old, dusty or dead has never seen a live performance designed to shine a spotlight on characters and stories from the past. This is exactly what the Summit Historical Society plans to do with its new series called “Pastry and the Past.”

The series, which begins Monday, July 22, features a weekly hour-long historical lecture paired with desserts. While previous history-related events in Frisco have been held during the day, Christy Nelson, of the Summit Historical Society, hoped to create an event that the working, touring crowd could easily attend.

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Old-fashioned ice cream social raises awareness of Dillon museums

October 31, 2013 — 

The Summit Historical Society will host its Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Social on the lawn of the Dillon Schoolhouse Museum on Saturday to give residents and visitors a chance to socialize and to raise awareness of the museum and surrounding properties.

“We’re going to have guided tours through the schoolhouse and the cabins,” Deanna Speer said. “We have vintage cars on display, we have books for sale by local authors, we’re selling ice cream for the old-fashioned price of 5 cents a scoop and we have brownies for sale.”

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Take a boat tour to learn about the history of Dillon Reservoir

October 31, 2013 — 

Learn about the history of Dillon, the rise of Denver Water and the construction of the Dillon Dam on the “Explore Lake Dillon” boat tour, offered every Tuesday during the summer.

The tours, led by Jim Estelle, a volunteer with the Summit Historical Society, embark from the Dillon Marina and loop around the reservoir as Estelle explains how it was constructed and why.

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Fourth of July in Summit County: then and now

October 31, 2013 — 

The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance will host its annual Garden Party at the Barney Ford Victorian home on Washington Avenue in Breckenridge on Thursday, July 4.

“The lawn at Barney Ford’s Victorian home will be the best viewing spot for this year’s Fourth of July festivities,” said Cindy Hintgen, of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. “The parade’s 70 floats will pass right by the lawn, and over 700 racers for the Firecracker 50 Mountain Bike Race will head out and fight to the finish right in front of you.”

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