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Dredge Mining and the Early 1900s

By the late 1800s the earlier mining booms were over. Dredge boats, which employed relatively few people, began operating in the area in 1898 and worked the valley floor until 1942. Thinking the Tiger Placers Company would provide jobs during the national depression, Breckenridge Town officials allowed the Tiger #1 Gold Dredge to chew its way from the northern town limits through to the south end of Main Street. The two-story, pontoon boat supported an armature that carried a line of moving buckets that was capable of digging up placer mining ground to depths of 70 feet in the riverbed. The dredge removed all vegetation and buildings in its path. The riverbed was literally turned upside-down. Fine soils of the river bottom were either sent to the depths below or deposited downstream as sediment. The riverbed and bedrock below were dredged up to the surface. As a result, few historic buildings survived on the west side of the Blue River. World War II finally silenced the dredge, and the population in Breckenridge declined to approximately 254 individuals.

Many of Breckenridge's historic buildings were lost during the "post-war" period for a variety of reasons. Some property owners demolished their structures to reduce their tax burden. Other buildings were lost to accidental fires, while others were purposely burned in practice exercises of volunteer fire crews. Some buildings were even torn down for firewood. Breckenridge, however, never achieved ghost town status. Instead, it maintained itself as a small town until the advent of the ski industry. The closest Breckenridge came to a ghost town was in 1936, when it was decided that it had been excluded from maps of the United States. The Breckenridge Women's Club was in session one day when they found that a strip of land 90-miles long and 30-miles wide had been left out of the United States. Breckenridge was included in this area with points north to Grand County. So, on August 8, 1936, the Governor and an impressive entourage gathered on the courthouse lawn, where a flag of the United States was raised.
Last updated: 10/24/2008 5:18:27 PM