Breck’s history mobilized |

Breck’s history mobilized

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge has had its share of scandals, heroes and thugs – and now a few of them are memorialized in art.

Alpine Bank commissioned seven pieces from Santa Fe, N.M., artist Ed Larson, an award-winning multi-media folk artist who paints, carves and designs quilts based on historical and autobiographical themes. For this project, he chose to tell the stories of Breckenridge through mobiles and puzzle pieces.

The main piece hangs from the beams over the concierge station at Alpine Bank’s new Breckenridge location. It represents Edwin Carter, the “log cabin naturalist” who lived in Breckenridge in the mid- to late-1800s. In 1875, Carter established a museum of Rocky Mountain wildlife to preserve the animals and birds of the Pikes Peak Gold Rush of 1859. Today, the museum stands behind the bank as the Carter Museum, Colorado’s second oldest museum.

A mosaic of stories form a large puzzle piece behind the teller station. On the left, the piece shows the 1891 bell bombing. Rumors say a few angry townsmen bombed the Methodist church’s bell after a new liquor law closed bars at midnight on Saturday and all day on Sunday. Brother Passmore, the appointee to the church, was a strong proponent of the law, while most of the townspeople were against it.

The second portion of the puzzle portrays Tom’s Baby, the largest gold nugget (weighing 13.5 pounds) found in Colorado. Tom Groves discovered it in 1887 and walked into town cradling it in a blanket. He sent it to Denver by train three days later – then it disappeared for 85 years. It surfaced in 1972 – missing 5 pounds.

The third part represents dredges used in lieu of gold panning. The fourth recalls the winter of 1898 when snow fell in Breckenridge for 79 days straight and townspeople dug snow tunnels to travel through town.

The fifth part portrays John Lewis Dyer, a Methodist minister who preached to miners and traveled around on 12-foot-long wooden skis. The last portions of the puzzle piece show the Carter Museum and Pug Ryan and his gang – a gang that robbed the Denver Hotel on Breckenridge’s Main Street in daylight in 1898.

Two final puzzle pieces over the self-service deposit boxes depict Breckenridge before and after the mining days.

Hibberd McGrath Gallery also exhibits Larson’s work in Breckenridge.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at

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