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History of Breckenridge, Colorado

Local ski instructor Robin Brown contributed heavily to this historical account.

Founded in 1859, Breckenridge is the oldest continually occupied community in the Colorado mountains. Its past includes gold and silver mining, dredge boats, the itinerant preacher John Lewis Dyer. Gunfights were seen in the middle of Main Street during a daring daylight robbery committed by Pug Ryan and his band of desperados.

The discovery of Colorado's largest gold nugget was just a few miles outside of town and of course, skiing since the 1960s. The 138-year-old Victorian town includes one of the state's largest historic districts, with 171 registered buildings.

After World War II, skiing as a recreational sport was becoming more popular all over the United States. In the late 1950s, the Round and Porter Lumber Company of Wichita, Kansas was becoming interested in developing a ski area and year-round recreation resort in the Breckenridge area. On July 27, 1961, the Forest Service issued a permit for 1,764 acres of skiing. "The Breckenridge Ski Area" officially opened on December 16, 1961 with one Heron double chairlift and a short T-bar on what is now The Freeway. Lift ticket prices were $4 all day adult, $2.50 all day child. Lift capacity was 3,000 skiers per hour. Almost 17,000 skier days were recorded that first season, despite the fact that Interstate 70 was still not complete to Summit County.

Peak 9 debuted in the 1971 - 1972 season with A & B lifts and 200 acres of new trails. The original name of the expanded area was Royal Tiger Mountain and Peak 8 was called Breckenridge Mountain. Ten years later, the world's first high-speed detachable quad chairlift was installed on Peak 9. By the 1985 - 1986 season, Peak 10 was added, opening an additional 165 acres of advanced intermediate and expert terrain, bringing the total to 1,441 skiable acres.

By the mid 1990s, Breckenridge Ski Resort was one of the busiest resorts in the nation. In 1996, a merger was proposed between Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin (under management of Ralcorp) and Vail, Beaver Creek and Arrowhead (under Apollo management). The merger was officially consummated on January 3, 1997, shortly after the sale of A-Basin, creating a new company, Vail Resorts, Inc.

Under the new management, $18 million was immediately invested in on-mountain improvements at Breckenridge, highlighted by two high-speed quads and major facility improvements. The 1998-1999 season saw another $14 million in improvements, including TenMile Station -- the first new on-mountain dining facility in over a decade. Last season, another $7 million was invested into Breckenridge including the country's first double-loading six-passenger high-speed lift -- The Quicksilver Super6.

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