The Museum in Frisco
Frisco Colorado is right off I-70 from Denver on the way to the Rocky Mountains. It is on the way to Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper Mountain resorts. Make sure to go through the Frisco Historic Park & Museum. It is located on Main Street in downtown Frisco. Original structures have been moved to the site. It is worth the stop. You will want to stop and walk around Frisco as you drive through the town to other parts of the Rocky Mountains.
“The Frisco Historic Park & Museum preserves and promotes the Town of Frisco’s heritage and history by presenting an excellent educational museum experience to the community and its visitors, connecting the past, present, and future to the world around us.”
The town was not named after San Francisco. Actually, the town was named after the railroad line that was managed by the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway. The name came from letters in that company’s name, but it seems like perhaps it was just named after the railway line which was “The Frisco Line”. It is ironic that that railroad never came through the city of Frisco although other railroad lines did.
Although Frisco was chartered in Colorado in 1879, its history started before that time. Many of the historic buildings of the museum contain original structures from 1860 to 1943. The structures were moved to the site of the museum and restored. Today they are filled with items that may have been used by the people of that time.
The Stanley House is representative of a middle-class mining family home. It is amazing how a family could have lived in such a small space. Naturally, there are no closets as in times past they had few possessions. It snows in Frisco so I doubt the homes kept the inhabitants very warm in the winter. Also, there was the ever-present outhouse. That would be a cold walk at night in the middle of the winter.
The Wood’s Cabin served as a family house, a post office, a bank, a general store, as well as a saloon, and a madam’s house.
The saloons of the time used unsavory ingredients to stretch the whiskey that they served. The whiskey was aptly named rot-gut. In addition, free lunches were served as an enticement for visitors to come to the saloon.
The tales about the ladies of Frisco are fascinating. Of course, there was a “parlor house” in Frisco. The name “red light” came from the railroad industry. The workers of the railroad would leave their red light outside of the brothel when they were visiting. Thus the area got the name red light.
Women had a vital role in the development of the area. Even before women were granted the privilege of voting, they were active in the issues of Frisco. They worked in their homes but also were teachers and cooks as well as worked in other services vital to the mining community. Kitty Ecklund served as the mayor of the town while Susan Badger worked in the public sector of the community.
The small town had a jail which was generally used when a minor got drunk at the saloon. The patrons would be required to sleep off their state in jail and then go back to work the next day. A minor’s life was difficult but everyone was looking for their own pot of gold.
By the time the great depression hit the United States, mining had also run out. Since Loveland Pass had opened in 1879, Frisco and Summit county were not cut off from “civilization”. Several settlers in the area rescued Frisco and the surrounding area. They had ingenious ideas to reinvigorate the area. They started Bill’s Ranch Camp for Boys as well as gave free land to ranchers to encourage new settlers to the area.
With the opening of the ski areas in the 1960s and 1970s, Frisco was revived. That was the new “white” gold rush. Today the area is a vacation destination. There are shops and restaurants available. It has the charm of a small mining town but at the same time has the amenities we all expect. The scenery with the backdrop of the mountains is exhilarating. The town sports a lively Main Street as well as proximity to Lake Dillon and various parks and trails. Frisco, Colorado is worth a visit.