Summit County history: Bike path passes many old townsites
special to the daily
Summit County, CO Colorado
Today we continue our exploration of Summit County history along the bike-path system.
Frisco-Breckenridge (9.5 miles one way): As you wind alongside Mount Royal, note the trail to Masontown, 0.5 miles from Frisco. It took foot travelers to an 1866 silver camp, where a huge mill, brick ore smelter, boardinghouse, mine offices and cabins formed a little town. Look above from points on the bikeway for the path taken by the snowslide that obliterated old Masontown in 1926.
Bill’s Ranch, north of Rainbow Lake, was “developed” by Bill Thomas, son of Frisco’s Thomas Hotel owners. He created a Depression-era market for his dairy cows’ milk by giving away ranch lots. Milk sales failed to skyrocket, but a historic neighborhood began.
Just beyond on the right, look for the Frisco coke ovens, marked by a wooden fence and historical plaque. Here the Hathaway Kilns, operated by John Hathaway and Joe Lampkin, fired up 50 cookers to make coke, an efficient fuel for local mine smelters and narrow-gauge steam engines. Loggers denuded mountainsides to cut ties for railroads and wood to make coke.
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Near the Summit High School, the bikeway crosses the site of Dickey, a railroad community until 1937, when the railway shut down. There, a three-stall railroad roundhouse and coaling station for the coal-stoked narrow-gauge locomotives stood. Dickey had a 20-by-63-foot depot, a 47,500-gallon water tank (compare that with a 9,304 gallon capacity in Baker’s Tank on Boreas Pass), a pumphouse and large wye for turning trains.
A bizarre accident demolished the Dickey depot in 1897. Six ore cars broke loose at Breckenridge and, gathering speed, thundered six miles north to Dickey. The ore cars failed to negotiate the curve on the Dickey switch. They jumped the track to crush the depot, destroying the ticket office, waiting room and a bedroom in the station’s living quarters.
At Tiger Road lies the site of Braddocks, a lively 1880’s village named for local stage-line operator Broncho Dave Braddocks. He tended a small produce farm here, growing high-elevation veggies under glass to prevent frost kill.
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