Recording the history of Breckenridge

Carol RockneBreckenridge

There seems to be a tendency for whatever gets printed to become history, so I am taking the time to inform you more specifically about the 1960s, Bill Rounds, and the advent of skiing in the town of Breckenridge as told to me by my husband, Sigurd Rockne. Bill Rounds’ father bought approximately 5,000 acres in and around Breckenridge in the late 50’s and early 60’s anticipating future summer cabin development around the yet to be built Dillon Reservoir. Skiing was not initially a part of his thinking. Bill and his family skied Aspen Highlands frequently where they met Sigurd Rockne, Trygve Berge, and other Norwegian ski instructors. Prior to the summer of 1960, Bill Rounds hired Hans Brucker, a contractor in Aspen, to build what was then called Antrim Lumber Co. (now the Breckenridge Building Center). In addition, a home was to be built for the future manager of the lumber yard, Ralph Coates, who moved his family from Wichita, Kan., to Breckenridge once the lumber company was ready to open its doors.Hans Brucker hired Trygve, Sigurd, and a few other Norwegians from Aspen to work on the two projects that summer; it was the first new construction the people of Breckenridge had seen in more than 30 years. The town was abuzz with new activity and new faces. The Norwegians kept telling Bill, and anyone else who would listen, that Breckenridge had the perfect topographical orientation for a ski area, with perfect slope and lots of sun. After the buildings were completed, everyone went back to Aspen to teach skiing for the winter at Stein Erikson’s Ski School, except for Trygve, who went to Boyne Mountain in Michigan, where Stein had opened another ski school. That winter, Bill and Sigurd returned to Breckenridge to see the mountain in winter. Harold Woods, who worked for the Rounds family and lived in Breckenridge, owned a military weasel (snow-cat like vehicle) that he used when Bill’s family wished to evaluate potential land purchases. Harold drove Bill and Sigurd up Peak 8, dropping them off somewhere near where the Vista House sits today. They skied to town, rallied at the Colorado House (now Fatty’s), and drove back to Aspen all in the same day. The skiing to town that day is another story that should be told by Sigurd and Harold Woods who, together, saved Bill Rounds’ life.In early February 1961, Bill and Sigurd drove again from Aspen to look at Breckenridge. Bill told Sigurd that his family had decided to send their attorney, Malcolm Miller, to Washington D.C. so that he might obtain a ski area permit. They received the permit shortly thereafter, and broke ground on the ski area in the summer of 1961. They built Ski Hill Road to Peak 8, The Bergenhof, The Breckenridge Inn, Four O’Clock Run to town with a parking lot at the end, and the Peak 8 parking lot. They built Lift No. 1, which ran from the Bergenhof to above timberline. They built runs named Springmeyer, Calley’s Alley, Rounder’s, Spruce and Ego Lane. The new ski area opened on Dec. 17, 1961, and Sigurd and Trygve were named co-directors of the ski school. Ken Cotton was the ski area manager, and Claude Martin was the general contractor for all construction. As of this writing, many of the people I mentioned above are still here. They, together with others who were in Breckenridge at the time, possess a wealth of excellent memories and wonderfully true stories that could, without a doubt, serve as contributing chapters to the story I have begun here.

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