Time travelers won’t want to miss the interactive exhibits at the Breckenridge Welcome Center Museum. Perfect for introducing kids and families to Breckenridge’s history, new exhibits offer augmented reality, a digital interactive time line, and videos of stories from Breckenridge’s past. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance brings history to life at the visitor information and welcome center located at 203 South Main Street.
Have you ever wondered what Breckenridge was like in the 1880s? Modern technology allows us to experience the sounds and views of historic Breckenridge utilizing augmented reality. At the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance desk in the Welcome Center, put on the Oculus VR headset and become immersed in 1888 Breckenridge. Twenty-first century sounds fade as you hear the clip-clop of horses on dusty Main Street. Soon your avatar, Edwin Carter appears to guide you through a landscape that is both familiar and foreign. Some buildings we consider historic today are visible along Main Street in their original form. Others, long gone to fire or decay, such as the elegant Arlington Hotel, can be seen in the background.
Carter introduces us to Barney Ford, a civil rights leader and successful entrepreneur who began life enslaved in the South. The experience recreates Ford's Chop House Restaurant, once located across the street from the Welcome Center and lost to fire in the 1890s. Carter reminds us of the devastation caused by fire and explains the importance of the many volunteer fire departments in Breckenridge. Look up, down and around for full views of downtown in the late 1880s but please stay seated for safety.
The three-minute 1888 Breckenridge augmented reality experience earned a mention in the Washington Post, alongside other high profile historic sites such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the Grand Canyon, and the ancient stone city of Petra.
1888 Breckenridge is free to experience at the Welcome Center when the BHA desk is open. The application, created by Timelooper, is also available for free from the Google Play and Apple App stores for enjoyment on an iPad or mobile device. The app also allows augmented reality visits to other Breckenridge locations, including the Wellington Mine, Carter Museum, Lincoln City, and Rocky Point.
Time is a River
Placing Breckenridge within the ages, the Time is a River digital timeline offers interactive vignettes of area history. Starting with the original inhabitants of the Blue River valley and ending with the modern days of the ski area, Time is a River spans a thousand years or more of local history. Using the touch screen, choose 1875 to learn more about Edwin Carter and his museum full of Rocky Mountain animals and birds. Select 1961 to see the original runs of the Breckenridge Ski Area, first called the Peak 8 Ski Area when it opened in December of that year. Many more historical touch points are offered through the Time is a River exhibit.
Videos of Historical Stories
The Welcome Center Museum also features a small theater with popular videos of local history - choose from a menu of seven different topics. Ranging in length from three to twelve minutes, each video focuses on a theme from Breckenridge history, including snowboarding, the early days of the Breckenridge Ski Area, railroad history on the High Line, and Valley Brook Cemetery. Sweet Summer Land highlights women’s experiences in early Breckenridge. First person accounts are shared in tales of The Depression Years. The Mining Booms explains Breckenridge’s past when fortunes were made and lost. View one or watch them all!
The Welcome Center Museum provides a primer to Breckenridge history with displays about prospecting, Breckenridge’s early reputation as “disgusting,” pioneering families, railroading and more. Now with augmented reality and interactive exhibits, the Museum offers 21st Century technology to help understand our 19th Century past.
written by Leigh Girvin