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December 22, 2009
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25-50-10 years ago...

There are those who wish for a commuter train in the Roaring Fork Valley, but the train ride from Basalt to Aspen was a slow one a century ago. Under the headline "Engine No. 23 should be skiddooed for good," The Aspen-Democrat Times reported:

Have you taken a ride on the Colorado Midland recently?

If you haven't, you have certainly missed a most thrilling and soul-racking experience in coming from Basalt to Aspen.

Now, going down to our neighboring little city is not so worse as that old moss-back engine No. 27 (note the number) can go down grade all hunkum; but, O Lord, when going up grade, poor old 23 is all in.

The other morning "we" had the extreme pleasure of experiencing that thrilling run from Basalt here.

We left Basalt at 10 o'clock in the morning and "speeded" up the grade almost to Watson when old 23 had to stop for nearly a half hour to get up steam; then we made another spurt to Rathbone, pretty nearly, when another half hour was taken in steaming up! Then, another spurt and we reached the Brush Creek crossing, when the fireman had to shovel in coal for 23 to accumulate a little more steam before pulling into Aspen. For the last half-mile, we ran on schedule, it being down grade, and pulled into the Union depot with colors flying and 23 wheezing a little after 1 o'clock.

En route, we almost caught up with "that bunch of cattle" running along the right-of-way. But as soon as the cattle saw what was coming, they lit out and left us, 23 and all, hopelessly in the rear.

The Aspen-Democrat Times put in a plug for local merchants in the days leading up to Christmas 1909:

Say, doesn't old Aspen look good? You know it!

With her snowclad peaks, crystal streams and pure ozone, she can't be beat anywhere on the face of this mundane sphere.

And Aspen's merchants are right up to snuff and up to the standard of their comrades of larger cities. In fact, they take a back seat for no merchant, not even the fellers in Denver, when it comes to offering Christmas bargains that tend to make the season one of good cheer and "peace on earth, good will toward men."

Step into any of our stores and you are greeted with a scene of holiday splendor, happy countenances of the accommodating clerks, willing, anxious and courteous to assist you in selecting some Christmas present for your dear one or friend.

They are long gone, and longtime locals still speak of them fondly, but a set of new A-frame buildings in downtown Aspen raised questions 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

City zoning and a set of seven newly-erected A-frame structures came in for a thorough airing by the Board of Adjustment at a meeting Friday, Dec. 18.

The session was held at the request of County Zoning Commission Chairman Herbert Bayer, who requested clarification on several points of the city's ordinance.

His questions pertained to the code in general, as well as to its application to the seven A-frame buildings at the corner of Durant and Hunter Streets.

Bayer asked the board if there was a setback required in the Business District for buildings serving a tourist use. He also asked about off-street parking, building code requirements and provisions for City Council approval if buildings are out of keeping with neighboring structures.

Although City Attorney Clinton Stewart was not present, a long brief from him was read explaining how, in his opinion, the A-frames met provisions of the zoning code.

Aspenites could partake of a new cuisine on the local dining scene 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

The purchase of a special Chinese stove and the hiring of a Chinese chef paved the way for the opening of Aspen's first Chinese restaurant this week.

The new restaurant, named Trader Ed's for owner Ed Brennan, opened Wednesday evening, Dec. 23. It is located in the building which formerly housed the Avalanche.

Chef at the exotic new establishment is Hong Kong native Jimmy Pang. Pang signed with Brennan last week in San Francisco, where Brennan went in search of someone capable of cooking Chinese dishes.

The decor in the new restaurant was created by Chris Osgaard. Deep red walls are painted in gold with scenes of Chinese life. Chinese lanterns, silk tapestries and Oriental screens complete the decorations.

The former owners of The Aspen Club and Spa expanded their holdings 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

The owners of The Aspen Club and Aspen Club Management Co. announced at a Wednesday press conference that they, in partnership with a New Jersey investor, have purchased the Vacation Resorts Property Management Co., Woodstone Inn and Michael J. Fitzgerald Inc. realty.

Dick and Julie Anthony Butera, along with Thomas Kane, a partner in a New Jersey bond trading firm, have joined together to become one of Aspen's largest property managers, controlling more than 100 Aspen homes and condominiums.

Mr. Butera said the company's goal is to expand to 200 properties before placing a lid on its management business to ensure quality in services to guests. Vacation Resorts continues to manage property in Snowmass Village and Vail.

The $5.5 million purchase of the Woodstone Inn from Vacation Resorts of Hilton Head, S.C., adds 91 rooms, giving the Butera-Kane partnership control over some 400 rooms in Aspen. ...

Butera said $500,000 will be spent during the next two years to upgrade the Woodstone, which houses the Anchorage restaurant and the Spinnaker lounge at 660 S. Spring.

But much more than that should be spent by the Aspen Skiing Co. to upgrade its facilities and in doing so help improve conditions in the entire resort community, Butera said.

Butera referred to Ajax as a 35-year-old "second-rate mountain."

-compiled by Janet Urquhart


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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 24, 2009 04:28PM Published Dec 22, 2009 10:01AM Copyright 2009 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.