One of my favorite things to do on walking tours is draw parallels between those who arrived for mining and those for skiing. It’s interesting to me that their arrival is a century apart. Actually 102 years - just like the time from Spanish flu to Covid19. Which is so appropriate for Colorado, the “Centennial state”. This is where I ask the guests if they know why we are called that. So picture 1859 in Summit County - the mountains are fully forested with primarily lodge pole pines, a good place for animals, and the beautiful Blue River with wonderful fishing and only migratory Ute Indians. In 1959 plans were well underway building Lake Dillon reservoir drawing people with visions of resorts and discovering those magnificent peaks that look perfect to strap on skis and fly down. From here in both eras we get young men with limited means heading to Breckenridge to seek their fortune. That is defined differently in each century; the miners were searching for gold, the skiers searching for first tracks in fresh “pow”. For both, housing was limited or nonexistent. Food was expensive and opportunities to make money were scarce. The men to women ratio was way out of balance. The opportunity to meet friends was often in bars. I talk about the hidden social strata. The miner came with his clothes on his back, the skier with appropriate ski gear but not much more. But soon after, a new element arrives - women. The main changes are parties and book clubs; there are plays and concerts and all of the activities that went with the Victorian age. As you walk down Main Street today you primarily see people in their recreation attire. Not so apparent are people enjoying dressing up having teas, dinner parties, book clubs, theater, music and art. So many were transient they came here, tried their hand and prospecting or skiing and moved on.
written by Sharon Smith