Breckenridge history began with adventure and continues in that spirit to this day. From Native Americans to miners to skiers and snowboarders, adventure seekers came for food, fortunes and, eventually, fun. Whatever their quest, all were captivated by the immeasurable beauty of the Ten Mile Range. Many of the early settlers who braved harsh winters, high alpine adversities, joys and disappointments are remembered in the town and on the mountain. Names like Fort Mary B, Swan City, Briar Rose and Wellington commemorate the people and places of the lucrative mining era—the heritage of Breckenridge. With the discovery of gold in 1859, people from around the world swarmed into the valley, erecting tents and hand-hewing log cabins to form a mining camp that would eventually become the town of Breckenridge. The state's largest gold nugget—a 13-pounder named Tom's Baby—was discovered here. When mining waned after World War II, the town all but dwindled away. Breckenridge was but a skeleton of its mining past. There were a few dusty roads, a handful of struggling Main Street businesses, and miles of rock spit out by dredge boats that ate their way through town via the Blue River in a last-gasp attempt at mining. Yet the majestic mountains still beckoned. In 1961, a modern-day trailblazer arrived in Breckenridge with a contract from a lumber baron to construct a building, but stayed to start a ski area. Trygve Berge, a Norwegian ski racer, and his pal Sigurd Rockne, climbed to the top of Peak 8 and saw that the circular-shaped concave terrain fanning out from town was a natural place for a ski area. With the lumber company's financial backing and Forest Service approval, Peak 8 opened on Dec. 16, 1961, with one double chairlift, a beginner T-bar and seven top-to-bottom runs. Lift tickets cost four bucks, and Berge became ski school director. With its beautifully restored Victorian buildings, a vibrant community, an authentic mining heritage, plus its close proximity to Denver, the town once again is enjoying a heyday as it draws a different sort of adventure-seeker.
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