Breckenridge Museums Bring History to Life

The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance brings history to life through its nine museums and gold panning sites. Discover the rich history that Breckenridge museums have to offer.

Breckenridge Museums and Exhibits:

Barney Ford House Museum

Born into slavery in 1822, Barney Ford endured racism, claim jumping, fires and financial hardship to become one of Colorado’s most prominent businessmen of his time. Ford commissioned his Breckenridge home in 1882 on a prominent downtown property. Today, the Barney Ford House has been restored to its original Victorian style. In 2021 Rocky Mountain PBS premiered Colorado Experience: Mr. Barney Ford, an hour documentary about Ford’s life and legacy.

Location: 111 E. Washington Ave.

 

Breckenridge Sawmill Museum 

The historic homes, stores and mines still standing in Breckenridge today could not have existed without the sawmills that processed trees cleared from local hillsides. The sawmill museum offers a self-guided tour of the equipment used by early frontiersmen to cut and prepare timbers for construction.

Location: Boreas Pass and Monroe Road.

 

Edwin Carter Discovery Center

Visit the Edwin Carter Museum and park, right along Main Street.

Edwin Carter came to Breckenridge in 1868 seeking gold and fortune, but his goals changed when he saw the devastation mining had on the environment and local wildlife. Carter became a taxidermist and collected Rocky Mountain animal specimens in his museum, which doubled as his home. After his death, his collection of almost 3,300 specimens formed the nucleus of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Location: 111 N. Ridge St.

 

William G. Briggle House

The Briggle House showcases Breckenridge’s finer side of living, away from the tough mining life. The Briggles owned one of the largest homes of their time. William was Breckenridge’s major in the early 1900s, and Katie, his wife, loved to teach piano and hold concerts in her parlor.

The restored Victorian home allows visitors to step into the refined past and catch a glimpse of what it would be like to live a rich Victorian life.

Location: 104 N. Harris St.

 

Alice G. Milne Park

Take the whole family and learn about Breckenridge’s Victorian past.

The Alice G. Milne House and Memorial Park showcases two original Breckenridge Victorian homes.

The smaller is one of Breckenridge’s oldest homes, built in the 1870s. The Milne House was constructed in 1880 and contains several original pieces, including a sewing machine, a Murphy bed and a wood-burning stove from Montgomery Ward’s catalog (delivered by the narrow-gauge railroad).

Location: 104 & 102 N. Harris St.

 

High Line Railroad Park & Playground

Train lovers will delight in Engine No 9, one of the few remaining narrow gauge locomotives that once braved the treacherous mountain passes. Located near the original track into Breckenridge from Boreas Pass, the park also has a huge rotary snowplow used to clear snowdrifts from the tracks, a replica caboose and a new train-themed playground.

Location: 189 Boreas Pass Road.

 

Breckenridge Welcome Center Museum & Theatre

Make the Welcome Center the first stop on your trip to Breckenridge.

Inside the Breckenridge Welcome Center is a museum offering an overview of Breckenridge history, from gold mining and narrow gauge railroads to the birth of the ski industry. The newly updated theater shows short historical videos. The new interactive timeline “Time Is A River” allows guests to explore Breckenridge from the formation of the Rocky Mountains to the opening of Peak 6 for skiing.

Location: 203 S. Main St.

 

Red, White & Blue Fire Museum

Firefighters lead this tour through the museum, located at 308 N. Main St.

The Breckenridge Fire Department first began in 1880 with volunteers. As Breckenridge grew quickly, the threat of a town fire destroying log homes and businesses built of wood increased.

The department had three companies: Red, White and Blue. Miners, teamsters, saloon-keepers and businessmen made up the fire department. When you tour the museum, you’ll hear the stories and see the original, human-powered ladder cart, equipment, uniforms and a restored hose cart.

Call (970) 453-2474 to set up a tour.

Location: 308 N. Main St.

 

Gold Panning

Gold panning is still a popular activity in the summer at Lomax Placer Mine, one of the many historic sites in Breckenridge.

Be a miner for a day at Lomax Gulch or Washington Mine. Guides will take you back to the beginning, when miners used pans to collect dirt on the side of a creek and then swirled the contents until the gold settled to the bottom. They’ll teach you the difference between fools gold, which is lighter, and the real thing, which remains at the bottom of the pan as you slowly dump out residue. You’ll also walk into a miner’s cabin and see original hydraulic mining equipment. ($10 for adults, $5 for children 4-12)

Directions to Lomax Gulch: 301 Ski Hill Rd; Turn onto Ski Hill Road, toward the ski area. The mine is one mile up the road, on the left.

The Washington Gold and Silver Mine Tour and Gold Panning features one of the region’s largest gold and silver mines. It had five main shafts that led miners to more than 10,000 feet of underground tunnels.

These days, you can explore the underground terrain with a guide and learn how to pan for gold. ($15 for adults, $10 for children)

Directions to Washington: 465 Illinois Gulch Road. Head south on Main Street, turn left on Boreas Pass and go 1 mile. Turn right on Illinois Gulch Road and drive 1/3 mile, to the mine on the left.

Reservations and Details

All of the Breckenridge museums sites are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, through Aug. 31.

To schedule a tour of one of the Breckenridge museums, or for more information on Breckenridge museums, visit the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance online, or call (970) 453-9767.

 

Want more history?  Explore the oldest buildings in Breckenridge.

More Breckenridge History

By Breck Editorial
The Breckenridge Tourism Office works to enhance and promote the unique character and experience of Breckenridge as a world-renowned destination resort and to represent, serve and perpetuate the common interest and character of its membership and community.