History

Summit County history: Two theories of how Breckenridge got its name

May 8, 2015 — 

For years, two seemingly contradictory theories have been used to explain the town name of “Breckenridge” — the well-known story of George Spencer naming it for U.S. Vice President John Cabell Breckinridge and that of a prospector by the name of Thomas Breckenridge (note the different spellings).

Recent research by local historian Bill Fountain, however, and an aha moment by fifth-generation Breckenridge resident and historian Robin Theobald suggests the possibility that both stories might, in fact, be true.

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Explore Lake Dillon boat tours cover centuries of history and geology

June 30, 2014 — 

A steady breeze drifted over the water as visitors from Arizona, St. Louis, Texas and Utah boarded a pontoon boat at the Dillon Marina destined for a circumnavigation of the Dillon Reservoir. More than just a morning boat ride, the Explore Lake Dillon boat tour would fill them full of facts about the dam, the reservoir and the valley, narrated by Summit Historical Society guide Jean Adams.

The boat sputtered away from the dock as Adams started her story where every story should start: at the beginning. Before there was a reservoir, there was a confluence of three rivers, the Snake, the Blue and Ten Mile Creek, a common post for fur trappers.

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Harris Street timeline

May 8, 2015 — 

1920 — Construction begins on the Harris Street school annex. The addition to the existing building includes a 28-by-35-foot swimming pool, locker rooms, showers, exercise room, kitchen and heating plant in the basement. At street level is a 550-person capacity auditorium-gymnasium with an 18-by-24-foot stage.

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The timeline of the marijuana legalization movement in Colorado

March 28, 2014 — 

1975

Colorado becomes one of 10 states to decriminalize marijuana, based on a federal commission report from 1972 from the Nixon administration. The report, known as The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, or the Shafer Commission, recommended that Congress lessen penalties for marijuana use and possession and use other methods to discourage heavy use. The Colorado law made possessing less than 1 ounce a petty offence, with a $100 fine, with harsher consequences for possessing more than an ounce, intent to distribute and cultivation.

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The noble history of Carvin' Marvin

May 8, 2015 — 

Every year, sometime in mid-winter, Rob Neyland’s mind is taken over by his alter ego, his evil twin, Carvin’ Marvin — Marvin calls the shots, and Marvin is smitten with whittling away at piles of white gold.

“Oh my god, he is totally focused and pushes aside and makes a complete mess of the rest of my life because he figures the snow sculpture is the most important, so I have to stuff him kicking and screaming back into the closet after each competition,” Neyland said.

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How the trails on Breckenridge Ski Resort's Peak 10 got their names

December 21, 2013 — 

Editor’s note: This is a bonus seventh article to the original six-part series about how the runs at Breckenridge Ski Resort got their names, leading up to the opening of the new Peak 6 on Wednesday, Dec. 25. To read the first six parts, visit www.summitdaily.com.

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Breckenridge Ski Resort Peak 9 run names have history that goes back farther than peak's inception in '70s

December 25, 2013 — 

This is the sixth and final part in a six-part series about the history of the ski run names at Breckenridge Ski Resort. To read the first five parts, visit www.summitdaily.com.

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The highest heights: How some early runs on Peaks 7 and 8 at Breckenridge got their names

December 25, 2013 — 

This is the fifth in a six-part series about the history of the ski run names at Breckenridge Ski Resort. To read the first four parts, visit www.summitdaily.com.

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How early runs on Peaks 7 and 8 at Breckenridge Ski Resort got their names

December 25, 2013 — 

This is the fourth in a six-part series about the history of the ski run names at Breckenridge Ski Resort. To read the first three parts, visit www.summitdaily.com.

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How the early runs on Peak 7 at Breckenridge got their names

November 23, 2013 — 

This is the third in a six-part series about the history of the ski run names at Breckenridge Ski Resort. To read the first two parts, visit www.summitdaily.com.

In two previous articles, we spoke about the naming of the ski runs on Peak 8 in Breckenridge. Most of these names actually came from people associated with the history of the resort itself. Now we turn to Peak 7, where all of the runs are named after Breckenridge-area historic places, many of which can be seen from the slopes on a clear day. In 2001-02, the resort turned to the Summit Historical Society for assistance in naming its new expansion area after an employee naming contest determined that the new area’s names would have a local history theme.

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Ski-slope history: How the Peak 8 runs at Breckenridge were named and what the names mean

November 16, 2013 — 

Note: This is the second in a six-part series about the history of the ski run names at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Last week’s article recounted the manner in which many of the original runs at the Breckenridge Ski Resort were named — names such as Springmeier, Rounders and Little Johnny. Let’s expand this run through history to the rest of Peak 8. We should note that none of the early runs were actually named until the mid-1960s, roughly five years after skiing began, and that most of Peak 8’s names relate to early ski-area persons or situations.

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Each ski run at Breckenridge Ski Resort has a name and a story all its own

November 9, 2013 — 

Note: This is the first in a six-part series about the history of the ski run names at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

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In Breckenridge, dredging up the past is as important as opening new terrain

November 15, 2013 — 

Unlike build-from-scratch resort communities such as Vail, Breckenridge wears its history on its parka sleeve. Its visitors are just as likely to check out a mining ruin as a ski run.

Larissa O’Neil, Breckenridge Heritage Alliance executive director, said visitor numbers to historic sites have been steadily increasing every year.

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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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Harris Street building hides stories from decades past

May 8, 2015 — 

Graham Johnson’s temporary office is more of a perch, a room situated in the very highest corner of the building, filled with blueprints and coated in the fine film of requisite sawdust that accompanies every construction site.

Johnson, assistant project manager for Spectrum General Contractors, has spent the better part of the past 16 months entrenched in the renovation of the old schoolhouse on Harris Street, overseeing a team of subcontractors and handling the painstaking minutiae of reviving a historic relic. But despite all of the hours with brick and mortar, it took the story of one family to really paint for Johnson a vivid picture of the building’s past.

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Peak 9 Restaurant in Breckenridge celebrates final closing day

April 22, 2014 — 

Editor’s note: This is the third part of a three-part series about the history of the Peak 9 Restaurant. Visit www.summitdaily.com to read the first two parts.

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Breckenridge's Peak 9 Restaurant marks last days of private ownership

April 18, 2014 — 

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a three-part series about the history of the Peak 9 Restaurant. Visit www.summitdaily.com to read the first part.

The Peak 9 Restaurant has been a home away from home for many who have moved to or passed through Breckenridge, whether it was for one season or many decades. Patrons return year after year for the welcoming atmosphere and friendly greetings from owner Kevin Brown.

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Breckenridge's Peak 9 Restaurant symbolizes a fading part of ski history

April 5, 2014 — 

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a three-part series about the history of the Peak 9 Restaurant.

On Easter Sunday, April 20, Peak 9 at Breckenridge Ski Resort will close for the season, and so will an iconic part of the mountain’s history. The Peak 9 Restaurant, which has been privately owned and operated for 40 years, will serve its last meals before owner Kevin Brown hands the keys over to Vail Resorts.

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Style and steeze

April 1, 2014 — 

Check out the third-annual Breckenridge Throwback Throwdown halfpipe competition, presented by Mountain Dew, on Saturday, March 29.

Watch as pro snowboarders compete for a $17,000 prize purse and take on a two-fold challenge: competing in Breck’s 22-foot halfpipe and then a specially constructed 6-foot minipipe that is a replica of the first one built at Breck in 1985. Tricks no more than 540 degrees of rotation will be allowed, so each rider will have to get creative with straight airs, alley oops, huge slow spins and hand plants.

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Summit County history: Two theories of how Breckenridge got its name

May 8, 2015 — 

For years, two seemingly contradictory theories have been used to explain the town name of “Breckenridge” — the well-known story of George Spencer naming it for U.S. Vice President John Cabell Breckinridge and that of a prospector by the name of Thomas Breckenridge (note the different spellings).

Recent research by local historian Bill Fountain, however, and an aha moment by fifth-generation Breckenridge resident and historian Robin Theobald suggests the possibility that both stories might, in fact, be true.

Learn more »

On the road to Breckenridge: The original five routes before Highway 9

May 8, 2015 — 

It may surprise some of you that there was life in, and access to, Breckenridge long before good old Highway 9 came along. Furthermore, “back in the old days” — meaning the spring, summer and fall of 1860 and before — there were actually a lot more ways to enter the Breck area than there are now, and these alternatives were used very extensively.

It’s probably safe to say that all of the “old” routes into Breck were originally seasonal game trails used by migrating mountain buffalo, elk, deer and other animals that moved to and from summer and winter grazing areas. Ute Native Americans also used the trails as they followed the game from season to season for thousands of years. In turn, early trappers later plied these routes in the first half of the 19th century.

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The evolution of Ullr Fest

May 8, 2015 — 

The current, family-friendly incarnation of Ullr Fest has its roots in the wilder days of 1960s Breckenridge, when the party was first started by some of the town’s Norwegian transplants.

“They were involved in this because Ullr was the god of the north winds, and being from Norway, they were very familiar with it,” said Maureen Nicholls, Summit Historical Society and Breckenridge Heritage Alliance volunteer and long-time Breckenridge resident. “In Bergen (Norway) and other towns, they have that kind of festival. That’s where the idea came from because there were a lot of Norwegian ski instructors in those first few years, so that’s where it really all started and turned into what it is today.”

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Ladies of the night

May 8, 2015 — 

It really wasn’t uncommon for men to leave wives and families at home and head to Colorado to seek their fortunes in gold. Men felt that it would be a short stay — they would make their fortunes and return home. Letters told just how much the men missed family life, but with so few women living in the mining towns and camps, men retired to gambling houses and saloons — bordellos and cribs.

Most of the women in those establishments saw prostitution purely as an economic opportunity; others saw it as the lowest moral degradation. Thus, women in the mining camps and towns were either “good” or “bad.” The bad were found in the hurdy-gurdy houses, bawdy houses and dance halls; the good were not allowed in any of them. A dichotomy existed — reverence for the good women and contempt for the bad. The good women worked to outlaw drinking, gambling and prostitution. The bad played up to the male ego; they kept the liquor flowing at the saloons and between dances at the dance halls. They waited nightly in the cribs and bordellos.

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'Learning before Laptops' historical exhibit opens in Breckenridge

May 1, 2015 — 

Summit County’s three historical organizations, the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, Frisco Historic Park & Museum and Summit Historical Society, have come together to create a new exhibit exploring education in our mountain community at the turn of the century.

The exhibit, titled “Learning before Laptops: The First Schoolhouses of Summit County,” opened last week in the Barney Ford Victorian Home on Washington Avenue in Breckenridge. The opening included a presentation by Christy Nelson, administrator for the Summit Historical Society, who spoke about what it was like to go to school in Summit long before the age of iPads and the Internet.

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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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