Best Guided Historic Tour: Country Boy Mine
Before it was a ski town, Breckenridge was a frontier destination for miners. Locals and visitors have plenty of opportunities to learn about the past from museums or historical societies. But one of the more unique experiences is touring the Country Boy Mine.
Started in 1887, gold, silver, zinc and lead were all extracted from a 20-acre plot in the French Gulch area. Rather than running out of minerals, the mine closed as economic conditions made it cost-prohibitive to continue. In 1991, Doug and David Tomlinson restored the collapsed mine.
Gold panning, treasure hunts, disc golf, ax throwing, metal detecting and petting burros are just some of the activities available to enjoy on the grounds where more than a half-dozen historic buildings remain. Still, the 1,100-foot tunnel in the side of the mountain is the main attraction. Owner Mike Shipley said they blend interactive elements with the history to make it as fun and engaging as possible for all ages.
“Our guides will take you down the mine, and it’s pretty hands-on,” Shipley said. “You get to use the old mining equipment. You get to see all of the workings and how tough it was. When you think back to how tough it was for the people who mined, it was really, really hard work.”
Included at the end of the tour is a session of gold panning in Eureka Creek. Real gold is found every day, though it does require some patience.
“We’re lucky the river runs out of the mine where we are,” Shipley said. “It’s not like a prepacked trough with dust. The river runs straight out of the back of the mine vein into the pond. Every day, we’re getting fresh bits and pieces for people to find.”
Guests should dress warmly for going into the mine as it is a constant 45 degrees year-round.
“In summer, it’s cool and winter it’s warm,” Shipley said. “It’s really quite strange.”
Sturdy shoes are also recommended, though it is an easy walk, and there are no steps or climbing involved.
Country Boy Mine is at 542 French Gulch Road in Breckenridge, and tours start at $35 per person. Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Tuesdays. The mine is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in the fall. Winter hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Tuesdays.
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