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My Favorite Bit of Breckenridge, CO History: Sharon T.

Sharon T. as 'Santa's Helper' (BHA, 2019)

“Hello and welcome to our museum! My name is Sharon! What is yours? Where are you from? What brings you to the museum today?”

As a museum guide with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance (BHA), I express these sentiments dozens of times a day as visitors walk through the doors, to step back into time and learn all about the fascinating history of Breckenridge. I am so proud to be not only a member, but also an employee of this thriving organization. My daily life is enriched through my many interactions with guests from all over the world. The time I spend in the museums lends structure to my weeks and purpose to my life.

First, how I came to the BHA…

My interest in history began 21 years ago when I moved cross-country, from Pennsylvania to Colorado. I joined the Summit County Historical Society Book Club and delved into the historical literature. The timeline comparisons of the eastern United States and the western expansion were captivating.

Through my early employment at the Breckenridge Welcome Center, I first learned of the BHA. I became a walking tour guide and shared countless stories of Breckenridge’s history and the many offerings of the BHA. Now, you can find me at the free downtown museums. My part time position is a perfect situation, as it allows for flexibility in my schedule, and keeps me busy doing a job that I love! In this unprecedented time of uncertainty, the BHA is doing it's best to retain staff.

The museums are our town’s gems…

At the Edwin Carter Discovery Center, I love to introduce my guests to the large mural photograph in the West room. The gasps of surprise as they learn about the little two-headed mountain goat and other stories in the mural are priceless! Edwin Carter was a passionate and dedicated resident of Breckenridge from 1860–1900 and preserved over 3,300 animal and bird specimens, several of which are on display at the museum.

The Summit Ski Museum is full of exciting exhibits. How Breckenridge progressed from a small mining town to a ski resort is a historical happening in itself! The 10th Mountain Division played an important role and is one of my favorite stories to share. The fifteen-minute video presented by locals is worth a visit in itself.

Right in the middle of town, the Barney Ford House Museum is a favorite site for visitors. My guests learn the story of this remarkable man and all that he achieved in Breckenridge. The view outside the dining room window is a great surprise - stop by and see for yourself.

Christmas at the Barney Ford House Museum is an especially special time. Being a 'Santa Helper', and decorating the museum for a Victorian Christmas stimulates my creative brain. The delight in the children’s faces as they visit with Santa in the museum’s famous bay window is a joy to witness.

It’s not just about the buildings…

One of the most rewarding aspects of working for the BHA is the interaction with the guests. Their questions keep me on my toes, and I love to share with them all of my knowledge. I’m so glad to have made so many friends with visitors, staff, and coworkers.

BHA is a supportive and caring organization, allowing me to share my ideas and concerns and giving me the opportunity to grow within the organization and myself.

Monthly staff meetings keep me updated on BHA functions and its financial status. It’s a fun time to interact with staff and coworkers, as I work many hours independently. Seasonal and holiday activities throughout the year provide me an opportunity to showcase my personal talents and expertise with decorating and design.

Our annual spring field trip is something I look forward to! It’s always stimulating with new information and education, combined with socializing and a meal shared with enthusiasm and conversation.

The BHA celebrates a community member, project, or business each year that has contributed to developing and preserving our town’s history. This event is named after Robin Theobald, a current Breckenridge resident who grew up in the historic Barney Ford house as a child.

The end of year holiday party at the Briggle House takes us back in time. The scents, the festive decorations, the refreshments, and the social interaction brings out the camaraderie of the BHA and guests. The holiday festivity contributes to the feeling of another satisfying year wrapping up.

Thankful and thriving during this crisis…

Like many other “non-essential” businesses, our museums are now closed indefinitely because of the COVID -19 pandemic. But the BHA continues to operate, thanks to our town’s support. Recently I experienced my first virtual tour guide meeting, hosted by the BHA administrative staff for the guides who cannot interact with guests at this time. This meeting brought me up to date on all the changes happening this time, and helped me feel connected and a continued valued member.

I am most grateful and appreciative to be an active member of the BHA, one of our town’s most valuable enterprises. A big round of applause should go to the staff and members of the BHA for their hard work, dedication, and genuine care for our historical resources.

I invite all of you, young and old, to consider supporting the BHA, by becoming an active member and, once we open our doors again, to visit often!

Thank you for reading!

written by Sharon E. Trumbore

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