We’re @: Breckenridge, Colorado, formerly known as “Colorado’s Kingdom.”
How’d that happen? You’ve heard the term “No Man’s Land?” In the 1930s, a women’s group in Breckenridge stumbled upon an 1880s map that failed to include Breckenridge. As a publicity stunt they invited the governor of Colorado to raise a flag officially welcoming Breckenridge into the union. As it turns out, Breckenridge was never really missing from any official maps, just that one.
Why would it even be on an 1880s map? Breckenridge was established in 1859 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. There was gold in them streams and the area attracted prospectors and all the merriment that followed them. It was named after then Vice President John C. Breckinridge in the towns bid to have its own post office.
Wait, I thought it was spelled Breckenridge. Well the town did get its own post office (the first one between the Continental Divide and Salt Lake City, Utah) but in 1861 as the Civil War broke out Mr. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, sided with the Confederates. The pro-union town voted to change its name, if just slightly. They did get to keep their post office!
What about the gold? The gold mines around Breckenridge are all shut down, production tapered off in the late 1800s. The most notable claim was “Tom’s Baby” a 13.5 pound gold nugget discovered near Breckenridge by local miners. It was the largest gold nugget ever found in the State of Colorado. And it was kidnapped! Sort-of. It went missing for about 85 years but was found (a little lighter) in an old Denver bank along the Wells Fargo delivery path. It is now on display at the Colorado Museum of Natural History in Denver.
So I shouldn’t expect to find any gold? Not really, but you can follow the history of technology change as prospectors moved from placer mining, hard rock mining, hydraulic mining and dredging. The characteristic gravel ridges left by the gold dredges can still be seen in downtown, along the Blue River and Snake River.
Where to stay: We found a vacation rental through Breckenridge Resort Managers that was at Main Street Junction and walked into town every day. There’s plenty to see and do just in downtown and it’s easy to get from there to any of the ski lifts should you visit during the winter.
That’s right, it’s another ski resort town. Well, it’s actually so much more than just a ski town, though its winter sports are fun. There is dog sledding, snowshoeing, nordic skiing and more during the colder months and hiking, biking and climbing throughout the rest of the year. Most folks here have dogs, so it’s a very pet friendly place, too.
Do not miss this: We love the restaurants. I know, we were on a no restaurant mission, but we had to stop at our favorite spot, Crepes a la Cart. The best part is watching the guys spread out the batter and assemble the specialty crepes both sweet or savory. It’s an outdoor affair, so we counted it as a picnic.