The history of Breckenridge is visible all around us- from the mining relics along the trails to the tailings you see on your drive into town. You can learn about it all, from the earliest days of the area’s indigenous peoples, to the boom and bust of the mining era, to the rise of the ski industry and tourism. For all the history buffs out there, check out these four ways to step back in time to explore the history of Breckenridge.

Visit a Museum

Breckenridge is home to several fantastic museums that tell the history of our quaint mountain town. From the indigenous peoples who passed through our valley during summer months to the mining boom and bust to the rise of the ski industry, there is no shortage of stories to be told. Check out some of these local museums on your next visit and step back into time!

The Barney Ford Museum tells the story of the life of Barney Ford. Ford escaped slavery at 26 and went on to become an entrepreneur, one of Colorado’s leading businessmen, and a civil rights pioneer. The museum honors his remarkable life and legacy.

  • Location: 111 East Washington Ave.
  • Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tours offered hourly.
  • Cost: Free, $5 suggested donation

The Edwin Carter Museum tells the story of Edwin Carter, one of Colorado’s earliest conservationists. Carter traveled to Breckenridge to try his hand at mining, but became concerned about the impact of mining on the native plant and animal species. He dedicated his life to the preservation of our cherished Rocky Mountain species.

  • Location: 111 N. Ridge Street
  • Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Cost: Free, $5 suggested donation

Located in the heart of downtown Breckenridge, the Breckenridge Welcome Center Museum provides an overview of the comprehensive history of Breckenridge. From the indigenous peoples that passed through the area to the gold mining years to the rise of the ski industry. Don’t miss the theater that shows short videos on various topics of Breckenridge history!

  • Location: 203 South Main Street
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Cost: Free, $5 suggested donation

The Sawmill Museum is an outdoor, self-gudied museum that shows what sawmill operations looked like in the early years of Breckenridge. As Breckenridge grew from simple log cabins to a bustling mining town, sawmilling operations allowed Breckenridge and its mining camps to grow into a town with churches, schools, hotels, halls, and more.

  • Location: Boreas Pass and Monroe Road
  • Hours: Daylight hours (self-guided)
  • Cost: Free, $5 suggested donation

The Alice G. Milne Memorial Park contains three historic buildings (Briggle, Milne, and Eberlein homes) as well as an outdoor park area. Two of the homes, Briggle and Milne, are in their original location and show what life would have been like for the early settlers of Breckenridge during the gold boom of the 1860s.

  • Location: 102 North Harris Street
  • Hours: Daylight hours (self-guided)
  • Cost: Free, $5 suggested donation

Washington Mine and Milling Exhibit is a reconstructed site where visitors learn about the long and difficult underground workday of a miner. The exhibit features original mining equipment, structures, and all the major equipment that was used to process ore. This is a self-guided exhibit and has interpretive signs to explain the equipment used.

  • Location: 465 Illinois Gulch Road
  • Hours: Daylight hours (self-guided)
  • Cost: Free, $5 suggested donation

Take a Historic Hike

As you wander through the hills and trails in the area, you’ll spot remnants of our mining history all over the place — old dredges, mining gear, and mills still standing strong. If you’re up for a walk down memory lane, Breckenridge has some fantastic hikes that’ll take you through the mining history of the town. Check out a few of our personal favorites!

Constructed in 1908 by the French Gulch Dredging Company for the purpose of mining gold, and was in operation until 1922. The dredge remains at the original mining camp. Reiling Dredge trail is a 2.1-mile hike with 226 feet of elevation gain and is rated as moderate.

  • Distance: 2.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 226 feet

Iowa Hill is an easy hike that the whole family can enjoy! This 0.7 mile interpretive loop takes you past mining relics from the original gold panners to the hydraulic mining that followed. Numerous interpretive signs along the way will provide you with educational information about the equipment and techniques you will find as you hike!

  • Distance: 0.7 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 187 feet

This easy hike takes you on a journey back in time to the remains of the Sallie Barber Mine structure. There are interpretive signs along the way that explain history of the mine and the steam boilers you will see en route. View mining tailings and drop a rock down the old (covered) mine shaft! Not only does this trail have an abundance of interesting history, it also offers stunning scenic views.

  • Distance: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 393 feet

While Mineral Hill isn’t a long hike, it does offer great views and educational opportunities. The trail offers multiple view areas of the Wellington Ore Bin, recently restored with the Breckenridge Historical Alliance and Summit County Open Space. The ore bin was originally used to process rock ore from the mine, and was restored in 2016.

  • Distance: 0.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Baker’s Tank is a popular trail for both hikers and bikers, especially in the fall when the trail is lined with aspen trees! This trail is moderate, leading through the forest to the historic Baker’s Tank. The tank was used in the 1800’s and 1900’s to fill steam engines with water as they winded over Boreas Pass.

  • Distance: 5.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 882 feet

Learn More on a Tour

Let the experts at Breckenridge History and Breckenridge Tours be your guides! Taking a guided tour is an unbeatable way to learn all of the ins and outs of our unique and rich history. Explore the National Historic District or experience the Wild West history of saloons and brothels. Experience a day in the life of a miner or look past the veil for ghosts and spirits. There is a tour for every history buff in the group! Here are a few of our favorites.

This signature tour by Breckenridge History takes you through the National Historic District of downtown Breckenridge. This tour takes you through the mining history of Breckenridge, starting with the discovery of gold in the Blue River in 1859. Hear tales of gold strikes, robberies, booms and busts, skiing pioneers, and more!

  • Location: Meet at Breckenridge Welcome Center, tour through the National Historic District (downtown Breckenridge)
  • Schedule: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, 11:00-12:30 and 1:30-3:00
  • Cost: Adult $20, Child $10

This downtown tour takes you on a journey through the seedier side of Breckenridge! As the Breckenridge History site describes, “You will learn local saloon lore, from madams and mayhem to murder, from rot-gut whiskey to the goings-on of the red light district.” Explore the Wild West side of Breckenridge on this fun, adults-only tour of Bawdy Breckenridge!

  • Location: Meet at Breckenridge Welcome Center
  • Schedule: Wednesdays, 4:30-6:00
  • Cost: Adults only $25

Just in time for spooky season, join Breckenridge History on a tour of Valley Brook Cemetary in their Tombstone Tales Tour! This cemetery is the final resting place for people from all walks of life and is a peek into history. Hear stories of those buried at Valley Brook and tales of illness, accidents, and conflicts.

  • Location: Valley Brook Cemetery
  • Schedule: Thursdays, 5:00-6:30
  • Cost: Adults $25, Child $15

Join Breckenridge Tours for the English Tea Tour, a living, costumed tour, through downtown. Learn about the Victorian-era ladies and gentlemen that resided in our town in the 1910s. Finish with English tea and scones in a historic tea house!

  • Location: Meet at Breckenridge Welcome Center
  • Schedule: Monday and Saturday, 12:00
  • Cost: Adults $30, Child $25

The Strange But True Tour, led by Breckenridge Tours, takes you through some of the more unusual true stories in the history of Breckenridge! Learn about disappearances, kidnappings, and other strange events throughout time, leading all the way up to present day!

  • Location: Meet at Summit Jewelry Store (100 Main Street)
  • Schedule: Monday-Friday, 2:00
  • Cost: Adult $25, Child $17

Pan for Gold

What better way to learn about the past than to experience in the present! The earliest gold miners in the region didn’t have fancy equipment or large operations; they tried their luck by panning for gold in our rivers and streams. Try your hand at mining the old-fashioned way with one of these gold panning opportunities right here in Breckenridge!

Country Boy Mine, located in the French Gulch area, was founded in 1887 and served a major part in the mining fame of Breckenridge. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the life of a prospector by panning for gold in the Eureka Creek, which runs from the mountain carrying minerals (including gold!) with it! Opt for the Gold Mine Tour (which includes gold panning) and go 1,000 feet into a mine to learn about the conditions miners experienced.

  • Location: 0542 French Gulch Road
  • Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, year-round
  • Cost: $19.95 (Gold-Panning), $42,50 (Gold Mine Tour + Gold-Panning)

Like most gold-mining operations in the Breckenridge area, Lomax Gulch was an active gold mine starting in the 1860’s. Here, miners used high-pressure hoses, sluice boxes, and gold pans to hunt for gold. In this seasonal gold panning tour, guests are invited to explore the mine site, watch a gold-panning demonstration, and try panning themselves at the stream on site.

  • Location: Lomax Placer Mine, 301 Ski Hill Drive
  • Cost: Adults $20, Children $10
  • Hours: ONLY SUMMER! Lomax Mine closes for the season after Labor Day.

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