Note: This is the first in a six-part series about the history of the ski run names at Breckenridge Ski Resort.
When it comes to ski run names at the Breckenridge Ski Resort there’s no meaningless Heartbreak Hill or Whoopee! — more like Briar Rose, Silverthorne, Springmeier and C.J.’s.
Breck is somewhat unique among U.S. ski areas in that most of its run names actually mean something and came from somewhere. Many came from local history, many from early ski area characters or events and some from the personal whims of early locals.
Let’s start with the original five runs, plus their lower run-outs, when the Peak 8 Ski Area (its original name) opened in December 1961. All of these names refer to the early ski area history. Four O’Clock was probably the first run cut through the woods. It ran in its current location from about the present Vista Haus down to Park Avenue. Its name, appropriately enough, derived from the fact that it was the way down to town at closing time, 4 p.m.
Springmeier (the correct spelling was actually Springmeyer) was named — for reasons only the forest knows — after a colorful local character of the 1940-60s: Alva Springmeyer. His origins are shrouded in mystery, except that he came from Oklahoma and had made quite a bit of money in oil (this was known because the local postal clerk noted the monthly checks he received from some oil interests).
Springmeyer married Agnes Adams, who owned a millinery shop in the current location of the Skinny Winter gift shop on Main Street. Springmeyer kept his herd of goats in the rear of the building in the winter. The couple lived in the log cabin next to the Gold Pan Saloon that currently houses the Twin Moose yogurt shop. Springmeyer also invested big time in local real estate and probably made a killing when the ski resort developers needed space for ski-related lodging, retail and similar facilities. Maybe that’s why his name graces one of the runs.
Rounders and Callie’s Alley were named after the resort’s first developer — Bill Rounds (nicknamed “Rounder”), owner of Rounds and Porter, a Wichita, Kan., lumber, oil and real estate development firm, and his wife, Carolyn (whose nickname was Callie). Callie still lives in the Denver area, while Bill passed away some years ago. The final run — Spruce — was simply named after the official Colorado tree.
The resort’s original — and only — chairlift was named the Heron No. 1 and ran roughly from the location of the Rocky Mountain Superchair base to a point above and to the north of the Vista Haus. The chair had a mid-point off-loading capability in the flat area below the intersection of Spruce, Swinger and Rounders.
The northern-most run back to the base — the continuation of Spruce — was named Ego Lane because it was so easy that it boosted your ego and courage on the way down. On the opposite, south side of the tree island on the left side of Ego Lane was Boreas Bounce, currently the lower part of Crescendo.
Turning to later runs in the same general area, we find two that were named after highly successful movies of 1977 — High Anxiety and Goodbye Girl. Both of these runs were cut during the late 1970s ownership of the ski area by Twentieth Century Fox, when the movie studio, flush with profits from these movies, as well as “Star Wars,” ventured into the ski recreation business for a short time.
And then there is Little Johnny, named for Johnny Sheron, a fiery, party-loving, height-challenged lifty of the mid to late 1960s who lived in Fairplay.
Who knows where Little Johnny is today, but his name lives on in the snows of Breckenridge.
Tune in next week when we’ll expand our tour around the Breckenridge Ski Resort. And, by the way, the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance will begin guided historic ski tours in January to tell the history of Breckenridge through the names of the resort’s ski runs.
Many thanks to Maureen Nicholls for some of the details in this article.