A mountain town timeline: Breck characters, events & ski industry evolution
Our prosperous Colorado ski town was once a mining payday hotbed stacked with boarding houses, base camps, and – count ‘em – 18 saloons. Eventually, the treasure hunt dried up and visionaries spun white gold into the legendary vacation destination we know and love.
1859 – Gold is discovered along the Blue River and a base camp is established. To accommodate the growing mining population, the Gold Pan Saloon opens. The Main Street tavern is still in business today.
1882 – Breckenridge is formally incorporated with a mayor and town board. The population peaks at 1,657, with two dancehalls, 10 hotels, and 18 saloons.
1887 – A 13.5-pound gold nugget is discovered near Breckenridge, dubbed “Tom’s Baby” after its founder.
1942 – Dredge boat mining ceases when World War II requires all metal be melted down for the war.
1960 – Breckenridge’s population drops to 393 and locals fear the area will soon be a ghost town.
1961 – Kansas-based Rounds and Porter Lumber receives a permit for a new ski area in Breckenridge.
December 16, 1961 – Breckenridge Ski Area officially opens. The first season welcomes roughly 17,000 skiers.
1963 – Town celebrates the first Ullr Fest, honoring the Norse god of snow — a time-honored tradition still roaring each January.
1971 – Peak 9 opens with two double chairs and 12 trails. Skier visits for the 1971-72 season total 221,000.
1981 – Breck jumpstarts the industry’s high-speed revolution, installing the world’s first high-speed quad chairlift on Peak 9.
1984 – Breckenridge is Colorado’s first major resort to allow snowboarding.
1985 – Peak 10 opens and the resort hosts the world’s first Snowboarding World Cup.
1993 – Peak 7, the ski area’s fourth interconnected mountain, opens for hiking access and glade skiing.
1997 – Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort merge with Vail and Beaver Creek to form Vail Resorts.
1999-2000 – For a second straight year, Breckenridge is the most-visited resort in the U.S., boasting 1,441,000 skier visits.
2002 – Breckenridge expands Peak 7, adding seven new trails and the six-person Independence SuperChair.
2006 – The Breck Welcome Center opens to the public and the year-round town population reaches 3,335.
2007 – The BreckConnect Gondola opens, whisking visitors from town to the base of Peak 8.
2009 – The town of Breck celebrates its 150th anniversary with a year of events.
2011 – Breckenridge Ski Resort turns 50.
2013 – Breckenridge opens Peak 6 on Christmas Day, marking one of the largest resort expansions in North America in the last decade.
– Lisa Pogue
Sources: Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge Heritage Alliance