The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance keeps finding ways to make history fun, and its latest way of bringing history to life involves skiing through it.
Every Friday during the ski season, from 1-4 p.m., a Breckenridge history buff will lead people on a mountainous adventure along Peaks 7, 8 and 9, as they tell stories about the history of Breckenridge through the naming of the ski resort’s trails.
Rick Hague, who has given tours through the alliance for years, put together the Historic Ski Tour, along with the help of a lot of longtime locals, as well as the Town of Breckenridge and Breckenridge Ski Resort.
“Unlike many U.S. ski areas, most of the run names at the Breckenridge Ski Resort have a real meaning — they are named after historic events, personalities, ski area history, or places in early Breckenridge history,” Hague said.
Ever wonder who Little Johnny or Duke was? Well, Johnny was a short, wild lifty in the 1960s who apparently made a big impression, and Duke was a mountain manager who suffered intense burns while rescuing two employees from an explosion in the main ski area building at the base of Peak 8 in 1966.
And, you just may run into local legend CJ (“Crazy John”) Mueller, who still skis at Breckenridge, and who ski patrol renamed My Line after. Mueller is a three-time world record speed skier and athlete of the 1992 Winter Olympics.
And why is there a run called George’s Thumb? It wasn’t an injured thumb, but George Gruber’s thumb did cause quite a pain in the 1980s — I’ll let you take the tour to find out how.
During the tour, you’ll also learn about Breckenridge’s raucous saloons, fire-and-brimstone saviors, and various mines, such as the Wire Patch Mine, named for the webs of gold crystals it produced.
Oh, and the run High Anxiety? Turns out it’s not the fear factor that inspired the name; in the late 1970s, Twentieth Century Fox briefly tried its luck in the ski industry. Same for Goodbye Girl. You’ll learn that and much more on the guided adventure.
“The tour makes skiing a more meaningful experience, because it puts history together,” said Breckenridge Heritage Alliance operations manager Cindy Hintgen. “It’s a great experience for locals to learn about their town and a great way for visitors to get a background in where they’re staying.”
To ski through time, call the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance at 970-453-9767, ext. 2 and reserve your spot by 8 p.m. the night before (Thursday). Intermediate skiing or snowboarding level is recommended, and the minimum suggested age is 10. Cost is $20 for adults 13 and older, and $15 for kids. You provide your own lift ticket and equipment.