On Halloween, Breckenridge’s most famous ghosts from the gold rush and beyond emerge to tell their stories at the historical Milne house, while cemetery tours and haunted tours throughout town will send shivers down your spine — and not because it’s cold outside. And, for kids who want to play it safe, Breckenridge offers its traditional trick-or-treat streets.
The Haunted House
It looks so unassuming: a little historical house painted yellow, just off Main Street in Breckenridge. But on Halloween the ghosts of Katie Briggle, Ada Finding, Pug Ryan and even Alfie Packer come to life.
Katie Briggle still hopes to allure those who dare enter the haunted house with her eerie piano playing. Ada Finding wants everyone in Breckenridge to know she’s still kickin’ — in 1888, residents pronounced her dead, but she’s rumored to have popped back into the land of the living the next day.
Though the female ghosts seem benign, the men aren’t quite as harmless. Pug Ryan still lurks about, taking pride in his reputation as one of the most renowned crooks in Summit County; during a poker game, he and his gang busted in and robbed the Denver Hotel, which, oddly enough, stood on Breckenridge’s Main Street. When the sheriff discovered their hideout, Pug and his gang shot the deputy (obviously, Bob Marley didn’t write his song about Pug, who did not shoot the sheriff). In fact, the sheriff eventually sought his revenge, when Pug ended up in the pen and died in 1931 — but apparently, Pug’s ghost still looks for opportunities to shake things up in Breckenridge.
And then there’s Alfie Packer, a miner said to have eaten his fellow gold prospectors, after they got lost on their journey from Utah to Breckenridge. In 1874, he claimed innocence, then later signed a confession, ended up in jail, and then escaped. In 1883, he went through a series of trials, only to earn the longest custodial sentence (40 years) in the nation’s history. Nevertheless, he got out on parole and later died — some say of trouble and worry. Cannibal or not, he finally made it to Breckenridge, at least in spirit, and waits for both kids and adults to enter the spooky Milne house.
The Milne Haunted House, located at 104 N. Harris St., Breckenridge opens to visitors from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 31.
It’s free, but donations benefit the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, the likes of which may just keep these spirits in check by allowing them to come out on Halloween — and not a day sooner, or later.
Breckenridge’s Haunted Tour
The eve before Halloween, on Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m., the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance leads a 90-minute tour through the creepiest parts of town.
Tours also take place every Saturday (through Dec. 24, 2012, at 7:30 p.m.
Walking past historical places like the pet cemetery at Barney Ford’s Victorian home, The Brown and the Gold Pan, you’ll hear “eerie and unexplained stories from Breckenridge’s rough and uncertain past,” said Cindy Hintgen, the alliance’s operations manager. “You’ll hear all the stories that go less told and experience Breckenridge in a whole new light — or darkness.”
Take Sylvia, for example. She’s rumored to haunt the Prospector, floating from window to window, as her long, dark hair flows over a white dress. She came to Breckenridge over a century ago with her husband, but when he died in a mining accident, she roamed the town, seeking a rich husband. But, she’s sort of a nice ghost: When one family lived in the Prospector building, they told stories about leaving clean clothes on their bed, only to return and find them mysteriously folded and displaced.
Gail Westwood, who started the haunted tours, says: “There have been many sightings (of Sylvia), but only by men” — presumably rich men …
Tombstone Tales in Breckenridge
At 4 p.m. Oct. 31, you can visit the final resting place of Breckenridge’s famous and infamous residents at Valley Brook Cemetery. Within the cemetery, you’ll hear about gold-rush successes and untimely deaths.
Tours also take place at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26.
The Victorian cemetery represents some of Breckenridge’s earliest art and written history. It dates back to 1882 and includes decorative gravestones and ornate ironwork.
Costs and Calls to Make
Each tour costs $15 for adults and $10 for kids, ages 4-12, but if you’re brave enough to show up for both tours, it’ll only cost adults $25 and kids $15. Reservations are required at least two hours before the day of the tour.
For more info on the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance tours and haunted house, call 970-453-9767, ext. 2 or click here.
Trick-or-Treat Breckenridge for Kids
Kids can play it safe by trick-or-treating from 4-8 p.m. Oct. 31 in the Wellington Neighborhood, as well as on High and Harris streets.
The Breckenridge Police Department closes main intersections that access the streets, so if you drive, park at the Breckenridge Elementary School or the old Colorado Mountain College building at Harris Street.
In Wellington, Wolff Lyon closes from Midnight Sun to Union Mill. That includes alleyways and guest parking areas. Bridge Street, at French Gulch and Logan roads, also close, so plan accordingly (the alleys and Logan Road remain open to residents).
The Wellington neighborhood usually attracts only Wellington kids, but trick-or-treaters from every other area in Breckenridge (and Blue River) usually flood High and Harris.