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Historians release new ‘Chasing the Dream’ sequel

Latest book focuses on history of B&B Mines Co. near Breckenridge

The town of Tiger is pictured in 1926. The former home of the Royal Tiger Mines Co., the area is featured in the latest history book from Bill Fountain and Sandra F. Mather, “Chasing the Dream: John B. Traylor and the B&B Mines, Inc.”
Photo from Bill Fountain

A historian’s job is never done with each passing day. Bill Fountain and Sandra F. Mather have combined their research and writing skills over the years to put together five books on mining in their “Chasing the Dream” series and one on Breckenridge’s marshals called “Chasing the Bad Guys.” The pair recently released a seventh book titled “Chasing the Dream: John B. Traylor and the B&B Mines, Inc.”

While similar in theme to the others, it is the first that is a direct sequel. It picks up in the 1940s right where “Chasing the Dream: John A. Traylor and the Royal Tiger Mines Company” left off. John A. Traylor’s son, John B. Traylor, follows in his father’s footsteps with trying to make it big in the mining industry.

“John A. Traylor wanted to build the biggest mining company in Colorado, if not the United States or even the world,” Fountain said, adding that Traylor spent about $1 million to acquire the Cashier, Jessie and Wellington mines, among others. “He really wanted to build a huge thing. But mines were played out. … It was going to cost more to mine than the value that they got out of it.”



The Royal Tiger Mines Co. went bankrupt, John A. Traylor died shortly thereafter and B&B Mines Co. formed in the wake. Created by attorneys and creditors, the company’s name refers to Breckenridge, the location of the mine, and Boston, where most of the creditors were.

The bulk of the narrative comes from Fountain poring over the meeting minutes of the B&B Mines Co. board from the 1940s to 2005. He met with an attorney of the company roughly three years ago — who he also met with 12 years prior while working on the John A. Traylor book — when writing this sequel. He discovered that one of the largest problems the company faced was paying property taxes, and leasing mines and selling assets like mill equipment became its main source of income.



Along with details from the valuable minutes, the book contains over 290 photographs and documents from private and public collections. Most have not appeared in print before and help illustrate the timeline of the region and its ties to the mining community.

Though the mines failed, Fountain believes through his research that the Traylors were good people. He said John A. Traylor had a boarding house for the single workers and one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages for families that had electricity and water. He even paid married men more for the same job, built a school and held a huge Fourth of July party that hosted Breckenridge residents, too.

At a glance


“Chasing the Dream: John B. Traylor and the B&B Mines, Inc.” is Bill Fountain and Sandra F. Mather’s sequel to “Chasing the Dream: John A. Traylor and the Royal Tiger Mines Company.” The book was supposed to come out last year but was delayed due to the pandemic. | Image from Bill Fountain

• “Chasing the Dream: John B. Traylor and The B&B Mines, Inc.” by Bill Fountain and Sandra F. Mather

• Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, 2020

• 253 pages, $24

• Available at Breckenridge Welcome Center, Breckenridge Heritage Alliance and Country Boy Mine

“Believe me, across the United States and probably the world, there were a lot of those large, big, huge companies that just took advantage of their employees, just locked them in so they couldn’t even leave. I don’t think that was John A. Traylor. I really don’t.”

Fountain and Mather finished the book in December 2019. By March 2020, they were given the green light by the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, publisher of the book, and all materials were ready to be laid out. Then the pandemic arrived in Summit County.

“One week later, (Executive Director Larissa O’Neil) calls me and said we just got our funding cut drastically, and we have to put a hold on the book,” Fountain said. He was then able to get an anonymous donor to help get the book printed this year.

Formatted so that it’s broken up by decade, the largest section of the book deals with Summit County’s more modern history: the 1970s. The one chapter is 84 pages long and deals with the U.S. Forest Service burning the abandoned company town of Tiger to the ground because hippies were squatting there. The Forest Service owned the land of Tiger, not the B&B Mines Co. as the company originally thought.

Fountain interviewed about a dozen of the residents and used their photos of the area. Because the mining company couldn’t afford security, the people moved in and made the town their home. They created stoves to stay warm, and repaired and furnished cabins.

“What’s neat is that some of these hippies stayed in Breckenridge and were very successful and are today businesspeople,” Fountain said, adding that they ran electrical and plumbing companies and sold real estate.

“If you go out there today, there is not anything left of the town,” Fountain said about Tiger. “Just the site and a few footprints.”

Today, Breckenridge and the county have preserved 1,800 acres of B&B land as open space thanks to a multimillion-dollar purchase in 2005.

Timeline

1864: Willey, Red and Smith discovered the Tiger lode.

1881: The I.X.L. Mining and Milling Co. was organized.

1904: John A. Traylor visits Summit County and inspects the I.X.L. mine.

1917: John A. Traylor organizes the Royal Tiger Mines Co.

1929: The Great Depression starts.

1938: The Royal Tiger Mines Co. files for bankruptcy.

1939: John A. Traylor dies at his home in Denver.

1942: Mining of minerals not essential to the war effort is forbidden.

1943: The B&B Mines Inc. is formed.

1945: Precious metals can be mined again.

1968: John B. Traylor becomes president of the B&B Mines.

1973: The U.S. Forest Service has the Red, White and Blue Fire Department burn down the town of Tiger.

2003: John B. Traylor dies at the age of 89.

Untapped history

Just because the stories of the Traylors are finished doesn’t mean Fountain and Mather are done writing. Within a month, they hope to have published a book all about the Country Boy Mine. Next year, they are aiming to release one called “Chasing the Dream: Ghosts Towns, Historic Sites, Post Offices and Train Stops.”

The idea of writing about old town sites came to him during a morning walk in Hawaii in the spring. While he has already written a book on some locations such as Swandyke, he narrowed his focus on a region that contains 26 spots. Some are old railroad stops that are now intersections, while others are post offices connected to remote mining offices that didn’t have a town.

“The only one that’s still an active town is Breckenridge,” Fountain said. “All the others are gone.”

The book is only about two-thirds of the way done, and it’s already the size of both Traylor books combined — with the Breckenridge chapter alone being roughly the size of the latest release — and it will likely be three or four volumes.

“I think (the town sites book) will be the most interesting book I have ever written,” Fountain said. “People are going to find that book really interesting.”

The crew of the Country Boy Mine in Breckenridge is pictured at Christmas 1942. Bill Fountain’s next book will be entirely about the mine.
Photo from Bill Fountain

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