A mountain town timeline: Breck characters, events & ski industry evolution

The town of Breckenridge

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.

The town was once named after America's vice president.
The town was once named after America’s vice president.

Take a trip through time with this Breckenridge historic highlight reel:

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.

Throwback Throwdown1984 – 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.

Peak 72002 – 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.

Learn more about Breck’s storied past and dig a little deeper on a guided historic walking tour with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.

– Lisa Pogue

 

Sources: Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge Heritage Alliance

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