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Breckenridge, Colorado

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Breckenridge's Peak Population (2004): 33,828 / Breckenridge's Year-Round Population (2004): 3,182
Breckenridge's Base Elevation: 9,603 Feet / Breckenridge's Summit Elevation: 12,998 Feet

The town of Breckenridge, Colorado, named after the then-current Vice President of the United States, John Cabell Breckinridge, was founded in 1859 after gold was discovered along the Blue River. The following year, a post office was built, stagecoach service was introduced, and the town's population neared triple digits.

The town changed the spelling of its name from "Breckinridge" to "Breckenridge" after its namesake became a brigadier general for the Confederacy in 1861. The newly-spelled town of Breckenridge continued to prosper as a gold mining community (notably, a 13.5-pound gold nugget was discovered in the vicinity in 1887), and, by the end of the 1880s, Breckenridge's population numbered in the thousands. The railroad had arrived in 1882, as did phones and electricity in 1900.

Breckenridge barely survived the passing of its gold boom, however, and by 1960 the town's population had dwindled to 393. But Breckenridge had always had plentiful amounts of snow (inhabitants were known to use snowshoes to get around town, unless it snowed for seventy-nine days straight, at which time tunnels were dug through the snowpack), and the town's first ski area (Peak 8) opened in 1961. Peak 9 followed in 1971, and I-70's Eisenhower Tunnel was completed in 1973. The growth of the ski industry and the growing accessibility of the region fueled population growth, and, by the beginning of the 21st century, Breckenridge's population had increased more than 500% in the forty years since the reversal of the town's fortunes.


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