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Connect with Breckenridge, Colorado History - Part 1

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

There’s no better way to connect to Breckenridge than through a special history tour or talk. You’ll gain an intimate understanding of our town’s history from these local experts. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance offers an impressive line-up of events this summer to enrich your connection to Breckenridge. Perfect for locals and visitors, these focused tours and presentations will expand your knowledge of Breckenridge’s geology, gold formation, discovery, and recovery, as well as the seedy side of mining camps. In this article, we focus on events and tours coming up in June through mid-July 2019.

The Historically Speaking lecture series is offered in conjunction with the Summit County Library at the South Branch, located at 103 South Harris Street in Breckenridge. Presentations are free and open to the public.

Tuesday June 25, 2019; 5:00-6:30pm

A Pine Post 4 Inches Square: Staking a Claim on Mining Records with Jen Baldwin

Jen Baldwin is a former docent and tour guide for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance who discovered her love of history and genealogy at a young age. Now the Outreach Manager for, a UK based genealogy site, Jen’s expertise in the Rocky Mountain Corridor puts her in high demand for lectures and conferences around the country. Her presentation will focus on one miner and his decade prospecting in the Rocky Mountains as traced through his paper trail of mining records.

Tuesday July 9, 2019; 7:00-8:30pm

Discover Denver's Past with Randi Samuel-Brown

Historical fiction entertains and enlightens us about a particular era while drawing us into the story. Author Randi Samuel-Brown paints an accurate portrait of the difficult lives led by women in the West in the late 1800’s in her book “The Beaten Territory.” Described in a Tattered Cover Staff Pick, the book is a “darkly engaging historical fiction set in the underworld of lower downtown Denver. The Author intertwines the stories of 3 women as they navigate the grit of addiction, prostitution, murder and corruption as their city boomed.” While set in Denver, the story could be told in any mining camp in the West, including Breckenridge.

Additional presentations include Dave Lively’s story of the Buckskin Sculptor on July 23 at 7:00pm and Erica Davis’ talk on Edible Wild Plants: A Historic Perspective on August 6, at 6:00pm. Look for details in a future article.

Get out on the ground for our Hike with a Historian series and join local history experts on these interactive experiences. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance is pleased to host opportunities this summer for an in-depth look at our history. Advance reservations and payment are required by 5pm the day prior to the hike. Cost is $25/adult (ages 13+) and $15/child (ages 4-12)​​. Hikes are not strenuous, though weather and elevation may play a role.

Thursday July 11, 2019; 9:00–11:00am Rocky Point at Boreas Pass with Dr. Sandra Mather

Local historian and geology professor Dr. Sandra Mather starts with the geologic forces that shaped Summit County millions of years ago and brought the gold to the surface, which brought the miners in turn. Her famous egg cartons of rocks help explain the large scale processes and glacial formations of the area. These landscapes are easily seen from the abandoned railroad path along Boreas Pass. More recent history will focus on the narrow gauge railway, the struggles to maintain the line in the winter, and the changes and benefits the railroad brought to the community when it arrived in 1882. Dr. Mather’s love of geology and history can be seen in her many popular locally-themed books including Southern Summit: A Geographer’s Perspective, Roadside Summit, Parts I and II, They Weren’t All Prostitutes and Gamblers, and the popular Chasing the Dream series with Bill Fountain. Dr. Mather is a retired geology professor and former president of the Summit Historical Society.

Thursday July 18, 2019; 9:00–11:00am French Pass - Gateway to the Gold Rush with Rick Hague

French Gulch illustrates every aspect of the Gold Rush in Summit County and the West, from mining styles to community building. Remnants of every type of early mining are on display – placer, lode and dredging. The bawdy mining camp, Lincoln City, is represented by a few extant buildings and a small cemetery. Signs of mining roads, burro trails, milling, dredging, and lumbering remain, as well as modern-day clean-up efforts of the tremendous environmental destruction caused by mining. Guide Rick Hague calls it “an almost-living peek into the past.” Hague is a retired mining engineer whose fascination with history accelerated over twenty years ago when he first came to Breckenridge. He is a founding board member of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, a past board member of the Summit Historical Society, frequent tour guide, and co-author of Windows to the Past, a book on the history of Summit County, CO.

On July 25, Rich Skovlin will lead a hike to the hydraulic mining area on Iowa Hill. Look for details in a future article.

written by Leigh Girvin

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