25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 Years Ago

compiled by John Colson

Courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyBack in the early 1980s, local officials were considering a project to extend and strengthen the Pitkin County Airports runway to accommodate bigger planes. This Dash 8, flown by Rocky Mountain Airways (known locally as Rocky Mountain Scareways), was one of a few planes that could land in the thin, high-altitude air.

The editor made a kind of about-face regarding local political bigwig W.H. McNichols, who had recently been deposed as Pitkin County treasurer in the wake of revelations that McNichols apparently had misplaced more than $3,000 in public funds. It seemed McNichols, rather than tuck tail and lick his wounds following a public scandal, was bent on remaining politically active. And The Aspen Democrat, which had supported McNichols until his guilt became apparent, began a series of heavily critical articles concerning him and his political goals.[McNichols is] endeavoring to secure the election of delegates to the Democratic county convention which will convene next Tuesday, that will give him control of said convention and the selection of delegates to the state convention at Pueblo. If this is true he will undoubtedly dominate the county convention … with the undoubted intention of attempting to perpetuate himself in office. Will the Democrats of Pitkin County stand for this? The Democrat will not. The Democrat stands for a clean Democracy and honest officials, and so do the people of this county. The time has come when McNichols must be repudiated by the Democratic party … and it would be far better to do this in convention than at the polls.Later in the week, the Democrat ran a story, laced heavily with sarcasm, reporting that McNichols troubles, stemming from the cash missing from the treasury, might be smoothed over by a panel of friendly county commissioners willing to accept partial repayment of the missing money.Yesterday the board completed the act of condoning a felony and only received a part payment of the shortage … and ordered a dismissal of the civil suits against the ex-treasurer … but this cannot be done by any one except District Attorney J.C. Gentry. Will he do it?The following day, the Democrat printed a broadside against the McNichols faction and accused them of engaging in saloon influence over local politics, by stacking political meetings with loungers culled from the local saloons.It would be better for all if the saloon element kept out of active politics, and especially when their influence tends to the protection and keeping in power of a gang of self-confessed wrongdoers. In the final salvo about the McNichols gang, the editor revealed that the gang had declared its intention to fight to a finish to hold onto power in Pitkin County, regardless of what the newspaper or the citizens tried to do about it.The McNichols [crowd declared] they would show the people they had no nor would they lose their grip on the county courthouse. The issue is shall true Democracy prevail, or shall the gang be permitted to still plunder the county? It is up to the Democrats of Pitkin County to decide.Aspen may have been rather isolated in many ways, both as a silver mining boom town and as a waning municipality after the silver bust of the 1890s, but it was still at the forefront of efforts to put modern technology to surprising uses.Aspen will soon be in direct telephone connection with points in Gunnison County, the Colorado Telephone Company has decided to put a line through from Crested Butte to Aspen by way of Pearl Pass. [The line will be] passing close to all the mining properties being worked between Aspen and Ashcroft … Dan MacArthur is preparing to put in a telephone station at the post office in Ashcroft, and he is bubbling over with delight at the prospect of being able to communicate with friends in this city during the winter.With the continuing importance of mining in the Aspen economy, any new discovery was of great importance to the newspaper and its readers, and the following was certainly no exception.It is no news to the people of Aspen that one of the biggest strikes in the history of the district has been made in the Smuggler mine … the ore body continues below the ninth level … that level is the deepest work on the property. About 100 tons of ore is being mined each day which nets the company from $8 to $10 a ton.Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Societys archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.

As was reported earlier this year, Aspenites were stung by a letter to the editor in The Denver Post from one Lisbeth Parthier of Lakewood, Colo., criticizing the town over what she said was neglect and decay everywhere. But Parthiers letter sparked a response.A hot war of letters, debating the relative cleanliness of Aspen, is building up in the letters to the editor column of The Denver Post … Taking up the pro-Aspen cry was Barbara Musser, who visits here often. [Musser wrote] I was both amused and disgusted at [Parthiers] letter … I think it most unfortunate that Miss Partheir was so busy seeking out neglect and decay that she failed to notice new sidewalks going in, new landscaping (flowers and slender aspen trees) along the sidewalks, brightly painted new shops and apartment buildings as well as the charm of the historic buildings. Furthermore, I would like to point out that I survived nicely on the drinking water, which Miss P. termed unfit for human consumption.Natural disasters have played a central role in human history, and Aspen has had its share though not without the occasional miraculous sparing of human life.The worst fire in recent years in Pitkin County occurred last Thursday evening when lightning struck the Woody Creek ranch house of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Henry … and apparently hit the power lines running into the house, which immediately exploded into flames in both the upstairs wings and downstairs simultaneously. Mrs. Henry was standing at a window looking through … binoculars at her husband who was … about 20 minutes away when he saw his house burst into flames. Sustaining the only injuries in the fire, Mrs. Henry was cut by flying glass … and was helped from the house by her eldest son, David, 14.The ongoing labor dispute at the Redstone coal mines continued to make news in Aspen, more than 50 miles away by road and not often concerned with events in the furthest corners of Pitkin County.The plaintiff in an injunction request granted in the district court two weeks ago [against the United Mine Workers of America], the Mid-Continent Coal & Coke Company is itself a co-defendant of charges of unfair labor practices before the National Labor Relations Board. The … charges were brought jointly against the firm and the Redstone Workers Association, alleged to be a company union in the charges. The two former employees [George J. Flogaus and Worley D. Hubbard] charge that they were unfairly discharged for making a written statement to the Colorado State Inspector of Coal Mines pointing out unsafe working conditions.

Air travel to Aspen has been a source of some difficulty for decades, and the countys airport management began what was thought to be a welcome improvement to the airports facilities.Despite assurances from local officials … that it would never happen, the Aspen airport just might vibrate to the roar of incoming 737s and DC9s some time soon. The airports runway expansion, which will widen the runway to 80 feet and lengthen it to 7,000 feet … will allow the large (300-plus passengers) Boeing and Douglas jets to operate here, despite earlier assumptions that the runways 90,000-pound weight limit would keep the big planes out.Aspens first proposal for converting a lodge to a timeshare operation got a firm no vote from the city council.The decision on the Prospector Lodge application, approved by four of the five council members, came despite recommendations of approval from the planning office and planning and zoning commission, [and] with Mayor Bill Stirling voicing the only dissent.

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