From skiing to history, Breckenridge has it all

BRECKENRIDGE — Let’s face it: The past is fickle, and frequently repeated tales tend, over time, to acquire the ring of truth.

Take the popular explanation surrounding the origin of the name of this mountain community, home today to the world-famous Breckenridge Ski Resort.

In 1859, Breckenridge was a makeshift collection of canvas tents and log cabins that sprang up when gold was discovered along the Blue River.

Residents christened their camp after Vice President John C. Breckinridge, hoping the distinction would induce him to use his influence to secure a U.S. Post Office for the settlement.

The plan worked. But when Breckinridge sided with the Confederacy at the start of the Civil War, outraged pro-Union miners changed the spelling of their community’s name to Breckenridge.

Not that anyone really noticed.

In fact, two decades later, Breckenridge disappeared from maps altogether due to a cartographer’s error that was neither discovered nor corrected until 1935. That omission led to its designation as the “independent kingdom of Breckenridge,” a tongue-in-cheek honorific still used today.

But the real story may be closer to “Theory #2,” proposed in a display at the Breckenridge Welcome Center Museum, a repository of local history and artifacts. It speculates that the town was actually named for Thomas Breckenridge, an early Blue River Valley prospector and member of western explorer John C. Fremont’s 1845 expedition.

Although letters, diaries, and documents from the 1860s continued to use both spellings, the current version eventually became official. And regardless of how it’s spelled, this year-round vacation destination offers a wealth of activities and attractions, from skiing, snowboarding, hiking, bicycling and fly-fishing to art galleries, restaurants and boutiques — along with 19th-century…

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