Summit County pioneers: Bud and Martha Enyeart
Special to the Summit Daily News
BRECKENRIDGE — To Carl “Bud” and Martha (Loomis) Enyeart, home was not just a place to hang your hat, but a community of family, friends and sense of belonging. They grew up in a time when being a member of a community meant more than just eating and sleeping there. It meant getting involved, looking out for your neighbors and taking stock in civic pride.
“We grew up in a small community, raised our kids in a small community,” Martha said.
Civic involvement was nothing new to Bud and Martha. It all began with Martha’s great-grandfather C.C. Warren, who graciously donated the land for the Dillon Cemetery, and her grandmother, who became the first telephone operator in Dillon. In 1940, Bud’s father was elected Summit County sheriff followed by Martha’s father in 1946. Her father also worked a number of jobs around Summit County, including painting, hanging wallpaper, mining on the dredge and finally serving as sheriff, where he died in office.
Born on a ranch on the lower Blue in 1924, 17 miles north of Silverthorne, Bud Enyeart was the middle son of nine children. He attended Slate Creek’s two-room school and helped with chores on his father’s dairy, such as hauling hay to feed the cattle and milking twice a day. His family moved back and forth from the lower Blue to Breckenridge beginning in 1929. He later went to high school in Boulder because the only upper level school in Summit County was located in Breckenridge, which was an impossible commute for ranch children living in distant rural areas. In Boulder, he traded work with his uncle for room and board.
After serving in the military, Bud returned to his birthplace of Summit County. To him, it seemed like the natural thing to do.
“This was always home,” he said. “This was where I was born, raised and where I knew people.”
Bud followed in the tradition of active town involvement. For 35 years, he volunteered for the local fire department. He was a county commissioner for 24 years beginning in 1950, when he received $90 per month payment, and was appointed Breckenridge town manager in 1972. During his tenure, they paved half of the town’s roads beyond Main Street.
An only child, Martha moved to Old Dillon at age 5 and later attended Breckenridge High School. When she was in the second grade in Kokomo, which is now under the tailings ponds created by the Climax Molybdenum Co. mine, there was a snowstorm so severe that the railroad — their main source for supplies, food and transportation — had to shut down for 90 days, Martha recalled. Avalanche danger was at a high due to 40- and 50-foot drifts. It took nearly 200 men to shovel snow slides from the tracks. This was during a time when her father was mining and their family was living in Leadville for a couple of years. Her dad finally resorted to snowshoeing to Climax to pick up food on a toboggan.
Four years his junior, Martha did not meet Bud until he returned from the service. Bud’s older sister was getting married when he and one of his brothers overheard a band practicing. They walked up to the house and invited Martha and her band to play for the surprise party for the newlywed couple and a dance at the Swan’s Nest. She played an accordion in a high school band called, “The Kids.” They attended a lot of dances in those days at the old Breckenridge High School gymnasium, Slate Creek Hall and Dillon Town Hall.
“We would travel to wherever they had a dance,” Martha said. “There was no television, so we had to do something for entertainment.”
Soon after that night at the Swan’s Nest, they began dating and married not long after.
She also participated in a women’s bowling league for some healthy competition. Bud enjoyed fly-fishing all over Summit County. On weekends, she, Bud and their three children enjoyed picnicking and spend time with the many relatives that lived nearby.
Martha described the many fun festivals in Breckenridge where the entire town gathered to celebrate. Breckenridge held an annual picnic at Carter Park on Aug. 8 followed by a dance to observe No Man’s Land. It started in 1936, when the Breckenridge Women’s Club announced that a 90-by-45-mile area, including Breckenridge, had never been included in the various acquisitions of the United States. Another celebration started in the 1960s by four Norwegian boys was “Ullr Fest,” paying homage to the Norse god of winter. Much like today, there was a parade with an honorary king and queen and a dance at the Bergenhoff, which was then the base lodge on Peak 8. During one parade, Bud pulled members of the Broncos football team on the fire department’s hook and ladder float. In 1948, Gilda Gray, a flapper called the “Shimmy Queen” in Hollywood, made a guest appearance at a No Man’s Land celebration and stayed with the mayor.
“She was a real shot in the arm,” Martha recalled.
Another draw that served as a social thread to Summit County during the middle part of the century was the more than half-dozen active lodges and fraternal organizations in Breckenridge. During Martha’s 50-year membership in Rebekah’s, she enjoyed the teachings, friendship and fellowship with other members. Bud was an active member in the Masons with 60 others involved in the Breckenridge chapter. One of their daughters was a Rainbow Girl, an organization for daughters of the Masonic Order and the Eastern Star group, and their son also participated as a Mason. Other active groups included the Grand Army of the Republic, the Woodmen of the World, The Elks, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sisters of the Mustard Seed and Eastern Star. It wasn’t uncommon to find a lot of crossover in membership, as many people belonged to more than one group.
“The lodges were a big thing in those days,” Martha explained. “It was very important to belong to a group and get together. This is one of the things we did.”
A mining man
Between 1947 and the development wave of the 1960s ski boom, only two new houses were built in Breckenridge, one of them by Bud and Martha. During the first 1 1/2 years of marriage, Bud built a mill in Montezuma and worked in the Saints John’s mine there in search of lead and silver, throwing out what zinc they came across since it was considered worthless. His main form of transportation was to cross-country ski back and forth to the mine. He also worked a silver mine near Red Mountain called Fredonia and served as a mine supervisor in Climax for 16 years, beginning in 1956. Once Breckenridge Ski Resort opened, he and Martha bought a season pass for $20 and began to ski recreationally whenever they had a chance.
Bud also built a second mill to the east of Copper Mountain and worked that for a while. He was involved in all aspects of mining, from mine developing to production and milling the ore.
“I made a living at it, but I never struck it rich,” Bud said.
To him, the most interesting aspect was leasing a mine for a royalty. That means if anything was discovered in the mine, the lessee could keep it with a percentage of the profits going back to the owner. There is a gamble of course, because if nothing is found, it was considered a loss. The demise of mining first came to the small operations, such as the Wellington in Breckenridge, in the 1970s. As the final decade of the 20th century came to a close, there were no longer any operational mines in Summit or Lake counties. The Black Cloud mine closed in winter 1999 in Leadville, ending an era that defined the town and the surrounding area for 140 years.
Remaking a community
As a resident who witnessed a number of economic changes in Summit County, Bud believed the Eisenhower tunnel and the emergence of the ski resorts had the most significant impact on the area. Martha remembered living through what she called “the scare” as her family living in Dillon began anxiously waiting from the moment the earliest rumor circulated that their town would be flooded by building of the dam. Denver had plans for the reservoir back in the 1930s.
“People didn’t know what was going to happen or how it might affect them,” Martha recalled. “Residents got little value out of their houses, and as a result, they weren’t left with enough money to turn around and buy new homes. Many had to scramble.”
When the new town of Dillon emerged, there were only about a half-dozen houses there in the beginning. They even had to move the cemetery, where many of Martha’s relatives were buried, to make way for the reservoir. Her mother also moved her house to Breckenridge, where she lived the rest of her life.
At one point, Breckenridge was “redlined,” meaning it was in the financial danger zone.
“We did everything we could to attract business,” Bud explained. “There just wasn’t much going on. Once we started planning, zoning and putting in sanitation codes, then the interest in Breckenridge grew.”
Bud explained that if it weren’t for the ski area, the town would probably still be depressed. Skiing really brought the town to life. The Rounds-Porter Lumber Co. out of Kansas saw some potential in the county in the late 1950s and began buying up land on delinquent tax lists that it originally intended to use for a saw mill but instead ended up building a ski area. The company continued to buy more property, and that’s when things started to happen.
“I would have liked to have seen a slaughterhouse built — anything to encourage people to come to Summit County, anything that would bring a payroll to the community,” he said, talking about the decline of mining and the advent of World War II that left Breckenridge a shell of the bustling town it once was during the silver boom.
Until the Bank of Breckenridge came on the scene, there wasn’t even a financial institution in town. Residents had to travel all the way to Kremmling or Leadville to do their banking.
“There was a time when we considered moving,” Bud admitted in 1999. “That was back when things were so depressed we couldn’t afford to move anyway. People talk about the ‘good old days,’ but in my opinion, these are the good old days. Today we have people, business and things going on. Now that things have picked up and are finally getting interesting, I’d like to stick around to see what will happen.”
Editor’s note: Bud Enyeart died in September 2016 at age 91.
This story previously published in the book “Summit Pioneers,” which was printed in 1999. The book was written by Alison (Grabau) Pomerantz with photos by Bob Winsett in partnership with Wilson-Lass Creative Communications. It was published to raise money for The Summit Foundation. Read more about the history of Summit County at SummitDaily.com/news/history.
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