Leafing through archived newspaper stories at the Frisco library, Breckenridge resident Gail Westwood was searching some of the most gruesome and weird stories in Summit County history. Westwood is starting a new walking tour, Strange But True, to tell some of the most unusual stories from the 1960s to now.
Westwood, who wrote the Haunted Tour for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance (BHA), is breaking off to form her own company, Breckenridge Tours. Strange But True is her first of what she hopes will be many more unique tours in town.
“It’s all about disappearances, suspected kidnappings, even contract killings,” she said. “There are a few tragedies, but it’s not necessarily ghosts. They are just all true — true stories with a twist.”
Westwood worked for the BHA for four years, and said as a longtime resident, she heard many interesting stories about the town, which weren’t making it into tours about the 1800s. She said more than 50 percent of her Strange But True tour is made up of information since 1999.
“I realized a lot of stories in Breck hadn’t been touched on because everything else was so historical,” she said.
The 90-minute tour will cost $15 per person, and Westwood originally plans to run it Fridays and Saturdays, starting the second week of December.
One of the most memorable stories Westwood tells is at a stop outside Cecilia’s Martini Bar and Nightclub on Main Street. In February 2008, 23-year-old Alphonse “Michael” Barbiere was celebrating his birthday at the bar when a blizzard struck. Westwood said she remembers the night, and how she was unable to even see from one side of Main Street to the other. Barbiere tried to walk back to his room alone, only one block away. He never arrived, and was never seen alive again. After an exhaustive search, Westwood said, his body was found that April during the snowmelt near the ice rink in town. She said it was completely encased in ice, five feet under the snow.
“I’m not trying to give Breckenridge a bad name. It’s more the fact that people come here thinking it’s a quaint little sleepy ski town,” she said. “I’m able to give people a different image, it’s not a sleepy town at all. That is such a sad story, but a very real tragedy.”
Westwood has plans to also include a “foodie” tour as part of Breckenridge Tours in the future, bringing guests to different restaurant stops. She wants to give people something new, she said.
“We have a lot of characters here in Breckenridge, I don’t think people know about that,” she said. “This town draws people who have a lot of history and personality, that brings a lot to the town.”
The Strange But True tour is an outside walking tour of the town, so Westwood recommends people bundle up, at least for now. For her, the rich history of Breckenridge is really the main inspiration for offering a more modern history alternative.
“It wakes people up to the fact that there’s a heck of a lot more going on here than you’d imagine,” she said. “It’s a different feel, a more lively take on history.”
To reach Gail Westwood at Breckenridge Tours, call (970) 343-9169.
“It’s all about disappearances, suspected kidnappings, even contract killings. There are a few tragedies, but it’s not necessarily ghosts. They are just all true — true stories with a twist.”
Owner, Breckenridge Tours