Colorado jumps on heritage tourismas way to increase destination visitors |

Colorado jumps on heritage tourismas way to increase destination visitors

Summit Daily/Reid Williams The Edwin Carter Museum was the first in Colorado to showcase animal specimens and is one of Breckenridge's many draws for "heritage tourism."

BRECKENRIDGE – The State Historical Fund has awarded $550,000 to the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) to research and implement a plan to promote Colorado’s heritage destinations, including ghost towns, ruins and historic main streets.

Breckenridge officials hope some of that publicity brings tourists their way, as the town is listed as one of about a dozen National Historic Districts in Colorado.

The district comprises scores of buildings and homes that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Not only does the listing attract thousands of visitors to historic towns throughout the United States, it enables those towns and individual owners of historic buildings to obtain tax credits.

The register is part of a program that coordinates and supports public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic and archeological resources.

Properties listed in the register include districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture.

Breckenridge has always touted its historic elements among its amenities, but history and heritage are increasingly playing a role in tourism – and Breckenridge officials want to be at the crest of the wave.

“We’re very happy,” said Breckenridge Resort Chamber director Corry Mihm. “The state is rich in cultural heritage, as is Breckenridge. It taps into our No. 1 message, the nature of our historic town.”

The town is just starting to develop programs to promote its cultural and historic amenities.

“We see it coming down the line with the development of the cultural arts district, the restoration of the Barney Ford House, the locomotive, the restoration of the cemetery,” Mihm said. “It really puts a nice package together; it’s very promotable.”

Cultural and historic tourism is becoming increasingly popular with baby boomers, whose knees won’t always allow them to spend a day in the bumps or weekends hiking trails.

“It’s one of the few aspects of tourism that’s growing,” Mihm said. “With the baby boomers aging, they have a desire to learn things on vacation. This will certainly let us be able to deliver the goods more impressively.”

Summit County offers a wide array of historic amenities, including old schoolhouses, homes and stores,mills and mines, museums and cemeteries.

CTO will use the funds for statewide programs.

One, called a Heritage Tourism Strategic Plan, will develop a program to identify and promote heritage tourism opportunities throughout the state.

The second will involve conducting two projects to determine the most effective ways to educate people on heritage tourism opportunities and to develop marketing campaigns that will bring travelers to Colorado’s venues, attractions, destinations and activities.

Funds also will be spent on research to determine the demographics of travelers, the size of the state’s travel market and how much the market generates.

Breckenridge, the only historic district in the county, is working hard to preserve its historic buildings and artifacts. Wednesday, a 50-ton locomotive the town purchased two years ago was brought to the Rotary Snowplow Park at the base of Boreas Pass Road.

Additionally, the town will unveil the “restoration in progress” of the Barney Ford House on the corner of Washington and Main streets. The building was home to one of Breckenridge’s most successful businessmen, and has been closed for decades.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

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