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Heritage & History

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The Town of Breckenridge protects, maintains, and enhances the community’s historical heritage.

Since the discovery of gold in 1859 the community has evolved from a small rough and tumble mining camp into a world class resort destination. Throughout the Town’s development and evolution, the spirit and resilience of the earliest settlers and pioneers has remained strong. Historic buildings have been preserved and many are now home to restaurants, retail, galleries, and other businesses. Other historic structures, mining sites, and artifacts have been preserved and can also be visited.

In 2006, the Town Council endorsed a Heritage Tourism Strategic Plan to insure that historic resources are protected and that visitors and residents can experience the area’s rich and dramatic history. The goals of the program are to provide a first rate heritage tourism program that supports and diversifies the local economy, to provide residents and visitors with opportunity to understand and explore the Towns history, and to preserve and protect irreplaceable historic resources.

In 2007 the Town of Breckenridge created an independent non-profit corporation for the purpose of managing and operating the Heritage Tourism program, and to manage and operate Town-owned as well as other heritage sites. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance (BHA) manages projects, oversees operation at sites and museums, and offers a wide variety of programs and tours. The Town continues to provide financial support and guidance to the BHA.

For more information on the early settlement of Breckenridge and its development from the 1800's to present, please visit the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.

Accomplishments / Sites:
In recent years several sites have been improved and/or restored and several projects and events have been completed, including:
2009 Breckenridge Sesquicentennial - A year-long celebration of the first 150 years of Breckenridge included a variety of events and programs.
Iowa Hill - A Town of Breckenridge project to install sixteen interpretive signs and displays that guide visitors on a hiking trail through a historic hydraulic mining site. The exhibits and displays represent 145 years of mining history and have received numerous accolades including “one of the best hydraulic mining exhibits in the world” by Mining History News (Dec 2004).
Barney Ford House Museum - A collaboration in 2004 between the Town of Breckenridge and the Saddle Rock Society to restore the1882 Breckenridge home of Barney Ford. Mr Ford escaped from slavery via the Underground Railroad and went on to prosper in Colorado eventually becoming a prominent and respected businessman, a successful entrepreneur, and a well known national civil rights advocate. You can learn more about Barney Ford and his important contributions here. 
Edwin Carter Cabin Restoration - A Town of Breckenridge restoration project completed in 2009. The “new” museum/discovery center features exhibits dedicated to Edwin Carter, the” log cabin naturalist”, who came to Breckenridge as a miner in the 1800s but quickly became concerned and interested in the impacts of mining on the environment and the wildlife. The museum was awarded the Caroline Bancroft History Award in 2010 by the Colorado Historical Society and has been recognized by the National Association of Interpretation and American Association of Museums.
Engine #9 Locomotive - A Town of Breckenridge and Breckenridge Heritage Alliance project to return the original narrow track locomotive to Breckenridge. After rail service to Breckenridge was discontinued in 1937, the locomotive was displayed at the World’s Fair in New York. The locomotive was returned to Breckenridge in 2010 and is now housed at the High Line Railroad Park where visitors can learn about the history and importance of the railroad to Breckenridge’s survival.

For a complete list of museums, sites, and tours in Breckenridge, please visit the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.

Current and On-Going Projects:
Valley Brook Cemetery - The on-going restoration of the Victorian graveyard which is characterized by an open meadow, native wildflowers, ornate iron work, and markers that vary from simple wooden crosses to monumental granite headstones. The prominent entry gateway symbolizes the “earthly gate to paradise” and the cemetery represents some of Breckenridge’s earliest art and written history. In 2001 the Town prepared the Valley Brook Cemetery Preservation Plan with help from the Colorado Historical Society/State Historical Fund and has continued to implement the plan.
Reiling Dredge - In 2009, the Town completed an assessment of the dredge boat site that included cutting-edge tools to document the condition and integrity of the site and the artifacts. The process included high definition mapping and 3D laser scanning, combined with aerial mapping and underwater archeologist assessments. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance continues to explore opportunities to preserve and protect the site and to educate the public regarding the role of Dredge Boat mining in Breckenridge.
High Line Railroad Park - The Park is home to the original Engine #9 Locomotive than ran in Breckenridge and also one of only five Rotary Snowplows know to exist. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance recently added a railroad-themed playground to this Park.

Other Information:
For additional information on the Towns Heritage Tourism Program, contact Laurie Best.
Breckenridge’s National Historic District Designation
For information on Activities and Events in Breckenridge, please visit the Breckenridge Tourism Office.

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