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Breckenridge, CO History from a Writer’s Perspective

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

Breckenridge is a favorite destination for writers. With the natural beauty, abundance of cultural offerings and wide variety of recreational activities, it is understandable that travel writers in particular will love our town. And what about our history? Does Breckenridge’s history play a role in the interest of travel writers? To find out, we turned the tables on recent visiting journalists and asked if they will portray Breckenridge’s history in their writing. It is the mission of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance to preserve unique historic resources and connect residents and visitors to our past through inspiring stories and interpretation of heritage sites. Here is what the writers told us:

Most writers start with the Breckenridge Tourism Office for basic information and connections to people and places pertinent to their assigned topics. Katie Coakley with BTO arranges visits for out-of-town writers. She ensures they have an opportunity to learn about Breckenridge’s history during their time in town. “Breckenridge's history is one of the elements that sets us apart. Understanding Breckenridge's history is important to understanding its present and future so we try to make sure that journalists get to experience that. Plus, Breckenridge's history is all around us,” Katie explained.

In a writer’s itinerary, the Tourism Office likes to include our Walk Through History Tour of town or information on the mining history out on the trail, depending on the focus of the writer. As an example, in this March 2019 article from the Boston Herald, the writer focuses on spring skiing, with a mention of historical tours by the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance included.

Shauna Farnell came to Breckenridge with a group of women writers to learn more about mountain biking opportunities. But it was the town’s history that captured her interest. “My favorite part of the visit was the historical newspaper clippings lining the walls of the Milne House,” Shauna replied. On the mountain bike tour, the writers passed the Reiling Dredge and the many mining sites and artifacts in French Gulch. “The purpose of people’s existence 100 years ago was so different from today,” Shauna remarked. “Breckenridge is a microcosm of Colorado history. Today it is a thriving place, with much more to offer beyond the outdoor recreation experiences.”

She found Breckenridge to be a destination with depth and authenticity, more than a resort but a real town with real people and businesses with interests outside of the tourism spectrum. Shauna was enchanted with the metaphysical aspects of Breckenridge’s history, and recently wrote an article on Halloween hauntings for Denver’s 5280 Magazine.

Cowboys and Indians Magazine sent Jordan Rane for a feature on hiking in Breckenridge. Jordan was aware that Breckenridge was a ski town, and had a vague notion of our mining background, but it wasn’t until he arrived that the magnitude of Breckenridge’s historical past was revealed.

“History is palpable in Breckenridge. The old buildings are beautifully redone. But it really came to life for me out on the trails. The rusted cans, broken pottery, the abandoned dredge all spoke to how historical Breckenridge is,” he commented after his October visit.

Jordan’s article on hiking in Breckenridge, “The West on Foot,” will appear in the Fall 2020 issue of Cowboys and Indians Magazine. He particularly enjoyed the undulating terrain of French Gulch where he discovered old mines and mills along the trail. His visit was enriched with a side trip to an old cabin site that was probably a prostitute’s crib, based on the remaining artifacts.

Courtesy Dr. Sandra F. Mather Archives, Breckenridge Heritage Alliance [BHA.2019.8.3]

“The miners left a rich legacy for 21st Century hikes,” he remarked, noting that most of the trails and roads used for recreation today are a carry-over from the mining era. “The history is in front of us in Breckenridge. I can’t wait to come back.”

In Shauna’s portrayals of Breckenridge she wants her readers to learn to appreciate our community. “I hope my writing will help instill a sense of respect and reverence for Breckenridge’s history.” Thank you Shauna and Jordan, we do too!

written by Leigh Girvin

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