Last month, Breckenridge was eager to join the 2015 Most Endangered Places list through the preservation of the Reiling Gold Dredge. 30 nominated sites were considered, while only four Colorado locations were chosen. Colorado’s Most Endangered Places Program was founded in 1997 to spotlight funding for a variety of threatened historical remnants. Today, the program supports 106 different sites by protecting them from a variety of human and environmental threats. Thanks to Saving Places Conference, the Reiling Gold Dredge will continue to stand in Summit County as a reminder of the western gold rush and the impact of humans on nature.
Lying along the Colorado Gold Trail, Breckenridge attracted thousands of fortune seekers during the boom of the 1850’s gold rush. The mining relics that have long been left behind are weathered and dispersed throughout the mountains of Summit County. While in operation, the Reiling Gold Dredge produced nearly $7 million in gold profits, driving the job market and other economical factors during the early 1900s.
The Reiling Gold Dredge is one of the last standing dredges in the country. Miners operated the dredge for 14 years until the structure sank in 1922. By churning up large rocks and sediment from the river floor, the dredge was able to move oversized materials out of the way while collecting smaller particles, such as gold. This inevitably destroyed the natural resources in the dredging area and visitors can still see the large rock piles lying near the dredge pond. Partially subdued in water, the wooden platform has remained intact despite the collapsed areas and rotting wood.
The Reiling Gold Dredge is accessible 12 months out of the year and provides great family friendly hiking on the surrounding trails. Weaving paths throughout the French Gulch area create a historical hike with story markers and different historical mining operations located throughout! Hikers follow a three mile loop and will experience picturesque views of the Breckenridge Ski Resort along the way. Visitors are welcome to walk the trails alone, yet encouraged to participate in a Breckenridge Heritage Alliance guided tour. For more information on this tour, visit their website at http://breckheritage.com/french-gulch-gold-mine-and-dredge-hike/.
If you enjoyed this article, feel free to contact Dennis Clauer at (970) 389-5165 for more local Summit County information and professional real estate guidance!