Take a walk on the Wild West side
Thirteen cents worth of gold. That’s what compelled prospectors to rush to Breckenridge.
Ruben Spalding, a miner who found success during the California gold rush, dug a 3-foot hole at what is now 847 Airport Road in Breckenridge. He knew there was more gold where the flax seed sized nugget came from, and, indeed, his second attempt yielded 24 cents. A 40-foot claim near that area later netted $7,000 in gold, according to local historian Mary Ellen Gilliland.
The rest is history ” one of scoundrels, soiled doves and claim jumpers ” and one that the Summit Historic Society loves sharing with its residents and visitors.
Volunteers lead tours throughout the summer, basing their information on facts dug up in old mining engineer reports and government publications. Here are a few historic sites to explore:
– Lomax Mine, Breckenridge: An authentic 1880s carriage house, assay office, original artifacts and miner’s cabin. The tour includes gold panning.
– Washington Gold Mine, Breckenridge: A hard-hat tour of a simulated underground mine with the original shaft house. Ore carts, tracks and a tipple, used to load rock bins with ore, still stand at the site.
– Country Boy, near Breckenridge: A privately owned mine that offers underground tours, gold panning and burro riding. It dates back to 1887, and it produced zinc for the nation’s war effort until 1945, when it shut down due to flooding.
– Barney Ford Museum, 111 E. Washington Ave., Breckenridge: An 1882 Victorian home that pays homage to Barney Ford, a prominent Breckenridge business man who escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad.
– Edwin Carter Museum, 111 S. Ridge St., Breckenridge: Built in 1875, Colorado’s second oldest museum pays tribute to Edwin Carter, “the log cabin naturalist.” It houses Rocky Mountain fauna and historical Breckenridge archives.
– Dillon Schoolhouse Museum, 403 LaBonte St., Dillon: The town moved its 1883 schoolhouse in 1961, when the Denver Water Board flooded the area to create the Dillon Reservoir. Behind the schoolhouse sits Lula Myers Ranch House and Honeymoon Cabin.
– Montezuma Schoolhouse: Residents of Montezuma built this one-room schoolhouse in 1884 during the silver boom.
– Silverthorne Museum: This isn’t a historic building; it’s in the green village at The Outlets at Silverthorne. But the 3,000-square-foot space depicts the lifestyle of pioneers in the Blue River Valley area.
– Frisco Historic Park: Walk into 12 structures dating from 1880 to 1946, including the schoolhouse museum, a trapper’s cabin, a soiled dove’s bedroom and a log chapel.
– Breckenridge Walking Tour: Highlights the earliest homes in town, from log cabins to mail-order houses and stately residences, such as the 1880 Alice G. Milne House and the 1896 W.H. Briggle House.
– Early 1900s rotary snowplow, Breckenridge: A huge machine with giant cutting fans that cleared narrow-gauge railroad tracks by throwing snow 30 feet.
– Dillon Cemetery: Dates back to 1885 and holds railroad workers, miners, timber men, blacksmiths, ranchers and county officials. It was the only graveyard patented under federal law by President McKinley. In 1962, the town moved the graves from Dillon’s original cemetery to its current location to make way for the reservoir. ≈
Summit Historic Society:
Location: 111 N. Ridge St., Breckenridge
Phone: (970) 453-9022
Frisco Historic Park:
Location: Corner of Main Street and Second Avenue in Frisco.
Phone: (970) 668-3428
Note: Buy tickets for Washington and Lomax mine tours at the Welcome Center at 203 S. Main St., Breckenridge, or at the mine sites before the tours. Buy tickets for Country Boy by calling (970) 453-4405.
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