Sallie Barber Mine stabilization in Breckenridge is complete

The public is invited to an open house for the project on Wednesday, Sept. 28

The Sallie Barber Mine site is photographed post-stabilization. The town of Breckenridge, Summit County, open space councils for both governments and Breckenridge History collaborated on a project to improve the above-ground features of the mine.
Breckenridge History/Courtesy photo

Breckenridge History has officially completed a project that will preserve a piece of Summit County’s past for community members and visitors to witness. 

The Sallie Barber Mine in Breckenridge has undergone a stabilization project in order to keep it standing. The Sallie Barber Mine was established by prospectors in 1880, but was not heavily developed until the 1890s, and peak production occurred around the 1900s. At the turn of the century, zinc ore was in demand on the national scale for manufacturing needs, and several Colorado mining areas became principal suppliers. After the Sallie Barber shut down for good in the 1940s, its above-ground features began to deteriorate and parts of the mine were stripped of materials and equipment.

The Sallie Barber Mine site is pictured here in the mid-1960s.
John A. Topolnicki Sr. Photographic Collection. Breckenridge History, Colorado.

The town of Breckenridge, Summit County, open space councils for both governments and Breckenridge History — formerly known as Breckenridge Heritage Alliance — came together in order to complete the project. Breckenridge History is hosting a public open house to celebrate the completion of the project from 3:30-5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28. Community members can hike or bike to the site from the Sallie Barber Mine trailhead for the open house. 

“We decided to go after the Sallie Barber project for several reasons,” Breckenridge History Executive Director Larissa O’Neil said. “One is it’s such a popular destination. It’s a really easy place that people can hike to and can get to see regularly, and people have asked us about it over the years. Obviously, secondly, it was really starting to show some significant deterioration.”

In recent years, the ore bin — where ore was stored after being brought to the surface — developed a significant lean. The headframe, where a large sheave wheel sent an ore bucket up and down the vertical shaft, had very little structural integrity and was at risk of collapse. Starting in 2019, Breckenridge History developed a plan to stabilize the ore bin, headframe and remaining artifacts on site. New interpretive signs are planned to be installed on the site in 2023. 

“Our mining era is something that’s really important to our community history,” O’Neill added. “It was here for 100 years. It was our economic driver in our town for 100 years. That’s a story that’s really important for us to tell — just as it’s super important for us to highlight our ski area history and more of that tourism-driven history — as well as our Ute history and those who were here long before any of us were here.”

Larry Crispell, a board member for Breckenridge History who provided oversight for the project, said that the project’s completion would not be possible without the support from the town of Breckenridge, Summit County and Ty Cortright, who was the contractor on the project. Crispell said that the community has always been supportive of preserving important history. 

Visitors stand in front of the stabilized Sallie Barber Mine in Breckenridge on Sept. 23, 2022.
Ty Cortright/Courtesy photo

In addition to the Sallie Barber Mine, Crispell said that other mines in the county have been stabilized for future generations, and other similar projects are in the planning stages. Completed projects include stabilizing the Wellington Mine and the Reiling Dredge

“The first thing is to acknowledge what a great community that we live in because this community values its history, its heritage and particularly its mining history and the Sallie Barber Mine because it is so easily accessible and so popular,” Crispell said. “It really stands head and shoulders above most other sites in the community.”

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