History of Breckenridge

  • Horse Carriage

Breckenridge has a rich history behind its name. Founded in 1859, Breckenridge’s gold rush brought swarms of settlers searching for their fortunes. As time marched on, the population became stable and the town was put on the map. Just over 100 years after the gold rush, Breckenridge Ski Area opened on Peak 8.

1887 – Discovery of “Tom’s Baby.” A 13 pound, 7 ounce nugget of gold – the largest ever found in Colorado. In 1972, the Colorado History Museum examined gold specimens that were deposited in a Denver bank in 1926. Tom’s Baby was found, but over five pounds remain missing.

1898/1899 – During which it started snowing in November and didn’t stop until February. Tunnels were dug under the snow to access one side of Main Street to the other.

1961 – Peak 8 opened with 7 runs, a double chair and a beginner T-bar. Ten years later, Peak 9 opened and Breckenridge was officially on the skiers’ radar as a world-class destination.

Breckenridge still serves as the center of activity for Summit County, Colorado and has many historic sites that are open to the public. This allows the story of Breckenridge to be shared with locals and visitors in the years to come. Breckenridge’s beautiful landscape, cultural heritage, authentic mining history and world class ski resort have created a thriving community and popular year-round family resort.  Breckenridge looks forward to continuing to offer the ultimate vacation experience while preserving its unique history and character.

Breckenridge’s Historic Sites:

Breckenridge Welcome Center

The Breckenridge Welcome Center is located at 203 South Main Street, near the Blue River Plaza. This information center is unique as it is also a free historical museum. The Breckenridge Welcome Center offers information on everything from dining and shopping to winter and summer activities in and around Breckenridge. The Breckenridge Welcome Center’s free museum includes a series of interactive exhibits about the town’s history and environmental accomplishments. For those interested in seeing some historic sites, the Breckenridge Welcome Center is also the starting point for the historic walking tours of town that are hosted and presented by the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.

  •     For more information on the Breckenridge Welcome Center, call 877-864-0868.
  •     For more information on historic walking tours, call the or visit the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance at 970-453-9767.

Barney Ford Museum

The Barney Ford House Museum honors Barney L. Ford, an escaped slave who prospered and became a prominent entrepreneur in Breckenridge and African-American civil rights leader in Colorado. Today, the Barney Ford House Museum has been restored to its original Victorian style and each room in the home is dedicated to a different part of Barney’s life. Museum hours are Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on the Barney Ford Museum, call the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance at 970-453-9767.

Edwin Carter Museum

Edwin Carter came to Breckenridge in 1868 seeking gold and fortune, but his goals changed when he saw the devastation mining had on the environment and local wildlife. Carter became a taxidermist and collected thousands of Rocky Mountain animal specimens in his museum, which doubled as his home. Carter worked and lived in his museum for 25 years. When he passed away, Carter’s collection of almost 3,300 Colorado wildlife specimens formed the nucleus of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Today, the Edwin Carter Museum honors the life and legacy of Edwin Carter. Museum hours are Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on the Edwin Carter Museum, call the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance at 970-453-9767.

Summit Ski Museum

Celebrating the first ski town in Colorado and the first 100 years of skiing in Summit County, the Summit Ski Museum is a colorful look into the history of skiing in Summit County. Museum hours are Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on the Summit Ski Museum, call the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance at 970-453-9767.