How the early runs on Peak 7 at Breckenridge got their names
November 30, 2015
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 http://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.
The central feature of Peak 7 — the Independence SuperChair — was named after one of the four original mining districts in Breckenridge (the others being Pollock, Spaulding and Miners). This name was also, for a short period of time, associated with the first permanent structure built in the area in the fall of 1859 to protect early prospectors from local Indians — Fort Independence or Fort Independent — before it became known permanently as Fort Mary B, another of the Peak 7 run names. Fort Mary B was a wooden stockade covering a couple of acres, with log cabins in each of the four corners serving as living quarters. There is some disagreement over who Mary B really was, but it is known that she was "the first woman in these parts," according to the original handwritten mining district records dating from September 1859. The fort's location was very close to the current location of Wells Fargo Bank in Breckenridge.
The Monte Cristo was a very rich silver, lead and zinc mine on the north side of Monte Cristo Gulch near Hoosier Pass. It was a locally unusual mine in that it operated on the surface as opposed to the common underground mining done in the area. Nearby Angel's Rest run was named after a notorious saloon in the now-ghost town of Dyersville, in the woods southeast of Breck. The saloon was the bane of John Lewis Dyer, aka "Father Dyer," the evangelical preacher known for his fire-and-brimstone prohibitionist crusades who had built a cabin (prior to the saloon's arrival) nearby. A modern rendition of the Angel's Rest Saloon was located in the wooden building next to Fatty's Pizzeria on Ridge Street in the 1970s, where tired skiers ended the day with a brew on the deck and basked in the last rays of the day's sun.
The Wirepatch (actually spelled Wire Patch back in the day), easily seen in French Gulch from its namesake Peak 7 run, was a rich wire-gold mine on Farncomb Hill near the discovery site of Tom's Baby, the largest mass of gold ever found in Colorado. Lincoln Meadows — the actual historical name was Lincoln Park — was named after a beautiful meadow area above the once-bustling gold camp of Lincoln City in French Gulch. Unfortunately, nothing much of a historic nature apparently happened there.
Swan City — like Lincoln City not a "city" by any stretch of the imagination, with a peak population of about 300 in the mid-1880s — was located near Brown's Gulch on Tiger Road in the Swan River area. The "city" was an 1880s settlement that housed miners working in nearby mines, such as the IXL and Cashier; by the 1920s it was totally destroyed by dredging activity that ran right through the town site. No pictures exist of the once booming "city," but perhaps its greatest claim to fame was that actor Douglas Fairbanks' parents lived there in the 1880s.
And, finally, Pioneer was probably a generic name given to the run, but the name could be of historical significance — one of Breck's original fire companies was named the Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1.
We'll talk about Peak 7's upper runs — such as George's Thumb and Debbie's Alley — at another time.
Many thanks to Bill Fountain for some of the details in this article.