Ski exhibit gives visitors peek at Breckenridge’s wintertime culture |

Ski exhibit gives visitors peek at Breckenridge’s wintertime culture

Breeana Laughlin
Summit Daily/Breeana Laughlin

Behind the doors of a quaint building tucked away off Main Street in Breckenridge, visitors can view the progression of skiing throughout the town’s rich history.

“Skiing has been part of the history here since the town’s inception in 1859,” said Trevor Baringer, a museum worker for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.

“The miners that came here to prospect used skis to get down the hill when they were looking for gold,” he said.

The “Summit Ski Exhibit” celebrates the first 100 years of skiing in Summit County and provides a colorful look into the history of the sport through photographs, videos and displays that feature vintage clothing and equipment, including “Snurfer” skis, giving visitors a chance to learn about the role the sport has played in shaping the town.

While people were skiing in Breckenridge since the area was settled, it wasn’t until the late 1900s that the town became a skiing destination, according to the Heritage Alliance. After the end of major mining operations in the 1940s, it was these hardy souls who prevented Breckenridge from becoming a ghost town.

Baringer said guests who visit the exhibit will gain a whole new appreciation for the sport. Early skiers relied on long, flat, skinny pieces of wood to make their way down the mountain. They didn’t have access to the plush gondolas and other modern-day comforts skiers and snowboarders have become accustomed to.

Every day was a backcountry day in the early skiing era, Baringer said.

“Back then we didn’t have ski lifts or rope tows or anything like that. So when you got down the hill you had to walk back up. So it was a definitely a sport for a certain few.”

Baringer said he hopes that while visitors peruse the exhibits they’ll also view a video about the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. The division’s training in the rugged Colorado Rockies is credited with helping provide victories in the European mountains during World War II.

“I find it quite fascinating,” Baringer said.

The ski exhibit will give first-time Breckenridge visitors a full taste of what the town is all about, he said.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, whose collection of sites, historic tours and programs is designed to encourage residents and visitors to experience firsthand what life was like in historic Breckenridge.

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