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Alumnus digs owning Breckenridge’s Country Boy Mine

Some people spend their whole lives looking for their proverbial pot of gold. Others just buy a gold mine.

Paul and Cindy Hintgen at their mine

Paul and Cindy Hintgen own the Country Boy Mine in Breckenridge, Colo. Photo courtesy of Paul Hintgen

Meet Paul Hintgen (BSBA ’86), the owner of Country Boy Mine in Breckenridge, Colo. It was established in 1887, and it’s the only mine with an underground tour in Summit County. It’s strictly a tourist attraction, no longer an operational mine.

It was the culmination of a search for a better life—much like the pioneers who ventured west in the 1800s.

Hintgen, his wife, Cindy, and their 11-year-old son loved the outdoors and skiing. So Hintgen began looking for a business in the mountains. He soon stumbled across a classified ad for a snowmobile business to be auctioned in Breckenridge.

During the auction, he and Cindy struck up a conversation with a guy in the crowd. He turned out to be Country Boy’s owner, and he was interested in selling.

“We went down, looked it over, talked about it, and by the end of the day I was sold,” Hintgen says.

He spent the next three months trying to come up with the $400,000 he needed. And by December 2006 he had the cash and closed the deal.

“The learning curve is huge,” he says. “I learn something new every day.” He credits his double major in finance and marketing as a big help. “I’m using that degree a lot today. Owning the mine is all about marketing and finance.”

Evidently he was a good student. While the rest of Breckenridge is feeling the pinpricks of the prickly economy, Hintgen’s 2008 business jumped 35 percent over 2007 with 25,000 visitors.

Carly Grimes, director of public relations for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, calls the Hintgens “great ambassadors” not only for their business, but also for Breckenridge and Colorado’s gold mining history.

Hintgen says he believes the mine serves as a good educational tool for visitors of all ages on the state’s history and its 19th century economics.

Delving 1,000 feet into the side of the mountain at the south base of Barney Ford Hill, tour goers learn the details of just how hard miners worked.

“Most people come out thinking their jobs look pretty good compared to mining,” Hintgen says with a laugh.

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