Refurbishing history |

Refurbishing history

The Summit Historical Society acquired the Washington Mine in 1984, but with recent renovations, the interpretive site is looking more like it might have in 1884.

The Washington Mine display, located less than a mile up Illinois Gulch off Boreas Pass Road, is actually a small part of what was known as the Washington Properties. Claims encompassing about 240 acres stretched up the gulch to the saddle between Baldy Mountain and Barney Ford Hill. The property changed owners many times, but the mines’ heyday ran from about 1883 to 1890.

Renovations begun last fall brought more displays, artifacts and historical representations to the mine. A small shaft shows visitors what the mining life was like underground – from the storage of animals to blasting and drilling – but the museum-like emphasis is on surface life. A prospector’s cabin gives insight into the home life of miners. A shafthouse reveals ore samples and photos of the original site, as well as tools and mining relics. Ore carts, tracks and a tipple (used to load rock bins with ore), as well as a steam jenny that powered mining equipment (and later heated tar for Summit County’s roads) are sprawled around the mine site.

Summit Historical Society executive director Rick Hague, a former mining geologist, will give a free presentation on mining and frontier medicine as part of the society’s lecture series. The talk begins at 7 p.m. Monday at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge.

For information about mine and other tours, call the Summit Historical Society at (970) 453-9022.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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