Famous Figures

The first settlers to Breckenridge did more than erect a bustling town; they put their stamp on town history. And, as with Breck townsfolk of today, the early settlers lived lives full of stories worth telling.

- Father John Lewis Dyer, the snowshoe itinerant preacher, who embraced the mountain life, made his way to Breckenridge in the 1860s. Father Dyer regularly skied across the Continental Divide on 12-foot long wooden skis to deliver the Gospel, sacks of gold and mail to the mining population. In 1880, he founded a Methodist church that remains active today. For his innovation of snowshoes and skiis for general travel, even though his device was not meant for athletics, Dyer was posthumously honored by induction into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in Vail.

- Edwin Carter - the 'log cabin naturalist' lived in Breckenridge from 1860-1900. Originally a placer miner, Carter embarked on a career as a naturalist soon after observing the destruction of the environment caused by hydraulic mining. During his life, Carter assembled more than 3,000 specimens, many of which were used to launch the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Today, some of those original specimens can be seen at the Carter Museum. View a trailer of the Edwin Carter movie here.

- Barney Ford was Breck's first African-American business owner. He lived a remarkable life and his contributions to Breckenridge and all of Colorado were great. An escaped slave who later became a prominent entrepreneur and civil right pioneer, Ford opened Ford's Chophouse in 1879. Some other highlights of Ford’s extraordinary life story include his escape from slavery, work with the Underground Railroad and foundation of the state’s first adult education program. He's a member of the Colorado Black Hall of Fame, the Colorado Business Hall of Fame and has a stained-glass portrait in the House Chamber of the Colorado State Capitol.

- On July 23, 1887, miner Tom Groves walked into town cradling the largest piece of gold ever found in Colorado. The 13.5-lb. blanket-wrapped bundle gained the name "Tom's Baby." Three days later, the nugget was put on a train to Denver and not seen for 85 years. In 1972, the Colorado History Museum examined gold specimens that were deposited in a Denver bank in 1926. Tom’s Baby was found, but more than five pounds remain missing.

- Kate Briggle was one of the premier social icons in Breckenridge around the turn of the century. Mr. and Mrs. William Briggle were a wealthy couple who bought a home in Breckenridge in 1896, and resided in the community from January 1896 through their deaths in 1946 and 1924, respectively, Katie often entertained fellow socialites with teas and music concerts in her parlor. Learn more about the life and times of Katie Briggle on the Victorian Tour & Tea offered by the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.

For more stories of Breck’s past, visit the Breckenridge Welcome Center and Museum at 203 S. Main St. (877-864-0868). Group and self-guided historical walking tours are available. The town also has one of the largest historic districts in the state of Colorado, with more than 200 structures on the National Register of Historic Places. For in-depth historical information, contact the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance at 970-453-9767 or visit BreckHeritage.com.

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