Breckenridge: Winter Sport Revolutionary and Artsy Haven

History lessons and ski vacations seem like an unlikely pair, but for Breckenridge Resort, it’s their 50th anniversary and that is exactly what they want people to think about: its history. On December 16, 1961 Breckenridge Resort opened with a double chairlift and a short T-Bar. Over 39 million skiers and snowboarders later, Breckenridge has hit many firsts in the winter sport industry throughout its 50 year history.

The town itself dates back to the summer of 1859 when gold was discovered along the Blue River. The discovery gave way to a bustling mining town and laid the groundwork for Breckenridge’s 350 historic structures that exist today. For years, gold and mining was the town’s pulse until the early 1940s when World War II efforts required mines to focus on melting down metals instead of drawing out metals. After World War II Breckenridge’s prospects were not looking good as it headed toward ghost town status with less than 400 residents in 1960. The hope of skiing, however, brought about Breckenridge’s renaissance when Rounds and Porter Lumber Company of Wichita, Kansas decided to take a stab at the growing popularity of winter sports.

From 1961 onward, Breckenridge has been dolling out firsts in the ski resort world. In 1981, they installed the first high-speed quad chairlift on Peak 9, which catapulted the high-speed quad chairlift revolution. Three years later, Breckenridge did another first in the state of Colorado by opening up the mountain to snowboarding. More than a decade later, Breckenridge was the most popular ski resort in the US with 1,392,242 skier/snowboarder visitors in 1999. In the same year, the resort added the country’s first six-passenger chairlift.

As the firsts continue, the past is not forgotten. The town and its history is what make a trip to Breckenridge even more memorable. The historic district, which is the largest in the state of Colorado, is Victorian-like. The authentic buildings are full of galleries, great dining options and boutique shopping. The Arts District alone is home to entertainment year round with live music, a theater and visual art exhibits from resident artists. The town is also full of massive snow sculptures during the winter, which gives the town a unique western bohemian vibe.

Breckenridge Resort pioneered the way people access the mountain. Being at the forefront of the chairlift evolution and through paving the way for snowboarders it’s clear why Breckenridge is an obvious choice for any winter sport enthusiast. Matched by a town with even more history and personality, there is no question as to why Breckenridge continues to be on the top of any vacationers list seeking the ultimate western experience. 

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