25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 Years Ago

compiled by John Colson

Photo by Fritz Kaeser/AHS CollectionThis rodeo arena, photographed some time in the mid-1950s, was near the Aspen Music Tent. The arena sparked what became known as the "Manure versus Music controversy" that consumed considerable ink in the Denver newspapers, after fans of the Aspen Music Festival tried to keep the rodeo from operating on weekends and interfering with performances of classical music in the tent.

The dispute over fiscal irregularities in the Pitkin County Treasurer’s Office continued, with ex-treasurer W.H. McNichols appearing with an attorney to defend him and cast doubt on an auditor’s report.

In a short time Mr. McNichols convinced the commissioners that the experts had made errors … and the board agreed to a reduction [of the alleged shortfall by] $813.66, leaving a balance of $3,151.38. [Adding McNichols’ share of the audit fees] made a grand total of $3,378.88 [that] was tendered the board under protest. At this point County Attorney Hays claimed there was due the county something over $600 in interest. … McNichols, through his attorney, refused to pay the interest [and threatened to] demand that further examination be made [regarding the charges] in which case he was confident it would be shown that he was not indebted to the county one cent. The board took the matter under advisement …

Before the week was out, a settlement was announced, under which the county’s legal proceedings against McNichols would be dropped once he paid the $3,378.88. But the matter was not over yet.

Notwithstanding the above action taken by the board it is understood that Edwin Powell, chairman of the board of county commissioners, will push the civil and criminal actions begun by him against W.H. McNichols in Justice Sanders’ court. A hearing on these two suits will be begun at 10 o’clock this morning. [McNichols pleaded ‘not guilty,’ paid a $1,000 bond to stay out of jail and agreed to appear in court again in October to face charges.]

Leaving the battle in the county courthouse, the paper reported “Renewed Activity in Ashcroft District” involving the shipping of copper-silver ore lying just below the surface of the ground.

Charley Larson … has leased the [site, and] … says that tons and tons of surface ore (float) can be copped from the grass roots that will net $18 or $20 per ton ” as the expense is nominal ” just picks and shovels to sort the ore from the country rock. Charley is young and energetic and we wish him success in this his first venture.

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Editor Charles Dailey would sometimes use his paper to express thanks to friends for kind deeds. One such incident was a front-page item noting that Aspen expatriate W.A. Kunkle returned from his new home in Mexico, where he was superintendent of a gold mine, to fetch his family and to present Dailey with a gift.

Mr. Kunkle presented the editor … with a native Mexican rain coat … made by native Indian peons on the Nagas River, in Estado de Durango, Old Mexico, 118 miles from any railroad. These coats are made of grass and are used regularly by natives for turning rain. The same grass is used in constructing the native huts and houses and is very durrable. The coat is a wonderful piece of workmanship and will be placed on exhibition in the show window of the Aspen Dry Goods company.

The editor liked to inject a little humor into the life of the city, as with the following item describing a visit by “Mrs. Cunningham, who has spent all her life in the city [and] was determined to learn something of farm life” with a visit to “the McLean ranch on Woody.”

[The lady began] by taking some bread crumbs to the turkeys, but the big gobbler didn’t appreciate her good intentions for he chased her at least one hundred yards before her screams brought timely aid. … [She next] volunteered to milk a cow … but forgot to manicure her finger nails and the cow dumped her off the … stool in short order. [She next was invited] to try her hand at mowing and making butter and skimming the milk, but the city lady declined with thanks and said she would rather be a horrid newspaper reporter than a farmwoman.

All roight!

Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.

While skiing was the hub of Aspen’s economic life, other sporting enterprises such as car racing and bicycle road races brought variety to the summer’s activities, and an annual rodeo at an arena west of town kept the region’s Western heritage at center stage.

Six main events are scheduled for the two-day celebration, including saddle bronc riding, bull dogging, bareback bronc riding, calf roping, team roping and the stake race. And there will be wild horse racing on both days of the big event. …

Now a firmly entrenched tradition in Aspen, the first Saddle and Bridle Club rodeo in 1953 caused a furor which was known in the Rocky Mountain area as the “music vs. manure” controversy. Some were opposed to the rodeo on a weekend since it conflicted with [Aspen Music Festival] concerts. Denver newspapers made much of the ensuing hassle.

A string of burglaries kept the newspaper busy.

First it was the Little Nell. Then last week the Hotel Jerome lost $1,665 in cash and $60 in checks. And in the third of the recent series of burglaries … The Red Onion lost $193 last Sunday night … between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. according to Sheriff Lorain Herwick. When asked if he knew who the burglar was, Sheriff Herwick replied, “I’ve got a good idea. At least we know it was one guy, not several.”

The paper reported an unusual development in the local business community.

Having once achieved greatness as a source of all manner of mined silver, Aspen is suddenly achieving certain recent eminence among mining gardeners as a source for peat moss, a nonnegotiable, but highly usable out-of-the-ground substance. Juggling with the Crystal Palace’s wine glasses made of sawed-off wine bottles for top claim at Aspen’s latest industrial billing, Jim Hayes and the Royal Peat Moss Company of Canada seem together to have unearthed one of North America’s more generous sources of the precious grub on top of Smuggler Mountain, just east of town … altogether a rare find.

The old Mill Street bridge across the Roaring Fork River ” 50 feet long, 33 feet wide and with one narrow sidewalk ” was due to be replaced by “a newer, wider, longer and straighter bridge” with sidewalks on each side, in the wake of a fight between the city and the county over cooperation on the project.

[The bridge] was shut down at 8 o’clock this morning and, according to county officials, will not reopen for at least one month ” and quite likely two. The project was originally slated to be a joint city-county operation but the city ” apparently objecting to a county employee housing project ” withdrew from its offer to pay for half the work and then took steps to keep the county from going ahead on its own … but eventually the city settled for a statement making public its objections to the [Silverking Phase IV] housing project and then allowed the county to proceed.

A story trumpeted the glories of the 21st Annual Aspen Lions Club Stampede Rodeo at the W/J Ranch on McLean Flats.

Over 250 cowboys and cowgirls are coming from around Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Texas and Utah to compete in [an event that] over the years has been voted “The Favorite Rodeo” for the contestants. There is a total purse of $15,000 for the cowboys to vie for.

Heralding the shape of things to come, the Prospector Lodge, once part of developer Hans Cantrup’s massive holdings at the base of Aspen Mountain and purchased out of bankruptcy by Merit Investment Co. of Winter Park, Colo., applied for city permits to become Aspen’s first time-share lodge.

A complex, 20-page ordinance authorizing and regulating timesharing was approved last December after months of consideration and many changes by both the city council and PZ commission. [The application] calls for each of the 19 units to be split into 52 interests, one for each week of the year … to be sold in … three-week packages for each unit.

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