Spooky Breckenridge history to get you in the mood for Halloween
Call them what you want — orbs, ghosts, spirits — but these unexplainable events have given people the heebie-jeebies
Summit County got its start as an old mining town in the 1850s, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the community’s long-standing buildings and iconic places have some spooky history attached to them. In the spirit of Halloween, we took a closer look at three locations with a past that is a little eerie.
Country Boy Mine
According to Country Boy Mine’s website, the mine originally got its start in 1887 and is one of the oldest and most famous in the county. Mine Superintendent Jonathan Bellew is a history buff and was drawn to the tourist attraction. He began working there as a tour guide in June 2020. Now, his role is focused on keeping it running, catering to visitors and completing various maintenance in the underground tunnels still standing today.
Roughly five months into his tenure at the mine, Bellew first noticed something odd. In November of last year, at about 1,000 feet into the tunnel, he noticed some kind of figure that almost looked like an old miner leaning against the wall and looking at the ground.
Bellew said he’s not really into spooky occurrences, but when he brought up the sighting to other tour guides and they confirmed they’d seen the same thing, it had him questioning.
“I’ve been on mine tours here in the state of Colorado and across the Western U.S. for many years,” he said. “I’ve taken every one here in the state. I feel like every mine tour does try to enhance that (their) mine’s got a ghost. But let me tell you, seeing that figure at the back of our mine, especially seeing it move from one side of the tunnel to the other, it might have me becoming a believer.”
Bellew said he wouldn’t be surprised if the mine did have a haunted past, but to his knowledge, there’s only been one recorded death in its history. That’s known thanks to a newly released book called “Country Boy Mine: Breckenridge, Colorado, 1881-1994” by local historians Bill Fountain and Sandra F. Mather.
“We had a death in the mine in 1942,” he said. “Reading (the) new book about Country Boy Mine, I read about a gentleman who fell about 12 feet from a catwalk. It’s not really clear (in the book) whether or not that happened on the surface or underground, but this gentleman did pass away. I think it was the only recorded fatality in our mine. That definitely leaves some grievance to some spooky stuff going on there.”
When asked whether this figure could be the spirit of that fallen miner, Bellew said it’s possible, especially since it’s usually seen in the morning and in the evening, which Bellew pointed out was typically when miners changed shifts for the day. Usually, the figure moves from the right side of the tunnel to the left and appears to be wearing a hardhat.
The Historic Brown Hotel and Fox’s Den
Now closed, the Historic Brown Hotel and Fox’s Den is known for having a scary past, too.
According to previous Summit Daily News reporting, the Brown was built in the 1860s as a private cabin, and Capt. George Ryan and his wife operated the property as a school in the 1880s.
Legend has it that Ryan supposedly murdered his mistress, Miss Whitney, in the Brown, and her ghost is rumored to cause strange noises and movements.
The former owner Michael Cavanaugh lived in the house for around 30 years and said the ghost never bothered him. Cavanaugh described its spooky atmosphere as more reminiscent of the “Hotel California” in the popular Eagles song.
Around the turn of the century, Tom “T.A.” Brown developed it into Brown’s Motel. Travelers often visited the stable in the back to take care of their horses. Guest rooms, some just larger than a single bed, were on the second floor, and Brown’s employees lived in the attic and basement.
In 1985, Cavanaugh bought the Brown and turned it into a fine dining establishment. In the early 1990s, he said an elderly woman stopped by who worked for T.A.’s wife, Maude, in the 1930s and lived in the attic. Cavanaugh asked if perchance she left a bar of soap and some liquid rouge that he found under a floorboard, and she said, yes, they belonged to her.
More recently, Cavanaugh sold the property after a series of noise complaints. According to the Summit County’s Assessor’s Office, the property sold in September 2020 for $1.78 million. The owner is now 206 N. Ridge St. LLC.
The Briggle House
June Walters was a tour guide for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance in the 1990s before rejoining the organization as a guide in 2014. And during her retraining, something peculiar happened.
When Walters reentered the Briggle House, music started to play. At the time, Walters said she thought the music was just another update the alliance had made to enhance the guest experience. Since she was a guide in the ’90s, the alliance had acquired more props, installed security systems and updated its overall tour to ensure that visitors left with a vivid peek into the past.
“When my retraining was over, I talked with the operations manager and asked if the music was provided by the National Repertory Orchestra and … where did she get that recording because it was really lovely,” Walters said. “And she said ‘What music?”
The Briggle House was built in the 1880s by a wealthy couple named William and Kathleen Briggle. The two were socialites and enjoyed hosting banquets and concerts. In fact, it was Kathleen Briggle who was particularly gifted in music. Walters said Kathleen Briggle taught music to children and frequently hosted their recitals in her home.
When Walters returned to the alliance to lead tours in 2014, the house had a new security system complete with motion detectors and alarms. When she heard the music play, she just figured it was part of the setup, but the operations manager said there was no audio system of any kind installed in the house.
“My feeling was maybe Mrs. Briggle was happy to see me again, and she played some pretty music for me,” Walters said. “Who knows what it was, but I know I heard the music enough to be curious about it to ask about it.”
That’s not the only strange occurrence — or what Walters calls “unexplainable events” — she’s had, either. Walters reports one instance where she felt like she was lightly pushed into the dining room. In another, she took a few photos of the corner of the house in which she saw a faint orb that appeared to be a face wearing a hat.
Though the Briggle House is not open to the public, visitors can check it out by taking a tour with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
Here are a few more Breckenridge establishments known to have some spooky history or paranormal sightings:
• Valley Brook Cemetery: Take a walking tour with Breckenridge Heritage Alliance to learn the stories behind the names on the tombstones.
• Apres Handcrafted Libations: Featured on Breckenridge Tours’ Ghostly Tales tour, a figure has reportedly been spotted in the upstairs window of the bar.
• Gold Pan Saloon: Visitors of Breckenridge’s oldest saloon have experienced a number of strange events, such as doors opening and sensing a presence.
• Creatures Great and Small: Caretaker ghost Minnie Thomas is said to haunt the building that was her former home.
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