25-50-100 Years Ago
September 11, 2008
Politics were a much more personal affair 100 years ago than they are today. In 1908, chances were good that a presidential candidate would actually shake your hand at some point. Local politics, too, was a much more in-your-face matter, and citizens read newspapers avidly to know all the players and their relative positions in the game. Hence, a small-town editor could rely on a reader having at least a passing understanding of things and not worry about explaining everything in every article.
It isn’t nice to say “we told you so” but you will remember that The Democrat predicted some time ago that W.S. Copeland had the senatorial bee buzzing in his bonnet, didn’t we? You bet we did and now our old friend has the nomination hard and fast and when he gets back from Denver it’s a foregone conclusion that he will have Clarence Hamlin’s barrel in his pocket.
You know Clarence wants to be U.S. senator and you will remember that Clarence was at the head of the deporting committee during the Cripple Creek strike, and besides Clarence is a side-partner of Mr. Copeland’s brother over in Cripple Creek …
In all sincerity, however, Mr. Copeland will put up the hardest fight of any man in the Republican party … and will certainly carry the Italian vote of the Redstone district …
But politics, even back then, wasn’t everything, and any tidbit about mining would get front-page play in The Democrat.
Yesterday morning Superintendent Bert Canning and Paul Caley, mine foreman, accompanied by ten men and a cook, went to the Montezuma where operations will be begun immediately … if it is possible for anybody to do so, they will have the mine and mill working on a dividend paying basis before the snow flies.
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And a good newspaper rivalry, of course, always kept readers on the edge of their seats, particularly when politics was in the mix.
The Democrat predicts that The Aspen Times will soon have another managing editor. Just wait and see … Why is it that the “ex” newspaper man from K.C. [Times Editor T.J. Murphy, formerly of Kansas City, Mo.] has so abruptly changed front … why did he so suddenly oppose the nomination of W.S. Copeland? Certainly his [Copeland’s] nomination was no surprise to the editor of the Republican paper. Why did the “ex” so suddenly come out in his paper and jump on Harry Koch and George Rohrbough … when he has been training with them … and has taken art in several secret conferences with them … ?
Continuing in this vein, the Democrat’s editor soon reported that Murphy had a falling out with his Republican cohort, after Murphy failed to win a seat as a state political official, and proceeded to “roast” the aforementioned Republicans ” Koch, Rohrbough and Copeland ” so hotly that they ended up trying to pay him $2,000 to pack up his newspaper, The Aspen Times, and leave the state. Murphy refused, to the glee of The Democrat, which egged him on.
You are dead right, brother “ex,” don’t you take $2,000 and hang out for the $5,000, and if they don’t come through keep on a-roasting Mr. Copeland.
It was only two days after the publication of the above encouragement that The Democrat announced that Murphy’s newspaper offices had been invaded and Murphy shot in the head.
The city was thrown into a fever of excitement last evening when the report was circulated that a riot was in progress at The Aspen Times office and that the owner and editor of the paper had been shot. It was stated that Mr. Rohrbough, accompanied by Messrs. Koch and Copeland, had gone to the office to take forcible possession and had met with resistance.
It turned out that Murphy had been clubbed over the head by Sheriff Begley’s pistol, not shot, and that Begley was there in his official capacity to help Rohrbough, as landlord, evict the newspaper editor and take possession of the office. Murphy ultimately was released from jail and returned to his office, with many supporters rallying to his cause.
Many secured commissions as deputy marshal and went to the Times office where, at the present writing, there is a force of armed men prepared to resist any further attempt to gain forcible possession of the plant.
In 1908, just as today, landowners unhappy with Pitkin County’s assessment of their property would try to talk the commissioners into lowering their tax bill, although the reasons and the money involved were far different than they are today.
The board of county commissioners held a warm session yesterday … Many of our ranchers from down the valley were present to find out, if they could, why their assessments had been increased, and why lands that were flooded were classed as agricultural lands … why ranches lying far back from the railroads, that it would take one man a week to load a car of hay, should be assessed at the same valuation as ranches adjacent to the railroads … To date this question has not been satisfactorily answered.
(Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.)
It was not unusual for Aspen to attract reporters from national publications, but this one was perhaps not in the vein that one would expect. No mention was made regarding photos of the magazine’s most famous pictorial subject matter.
Having set out to do just a ski fashions story with Aspen as background, the editors of PLAYBOY magazine are now planning to base an entire ski article on Aspen to be written by A.G. Spectorsky, co-author with Fred Iselin of “Invitation to Skiing,” author of the famed “Exurbanites” and associate publisher of the magazine. The article will appear as the core of a special skiing issue of the magazine to be released in November and will feature five pages of color photographs taken here last winter by PLAYBOY photographers.
It almost seemed as if September was the month for publications around the nation, perhaps suffering from the doldrums, to take a shot at Aspen or highlight some of its glamor ” such as the following concerning the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
The [Daily Sentinel] pointed out in a story datelined Aspen that the water which is presently being pumped into the Roaring Fork River from the recently completed sewage disposal plant is safer and cleaner than the water being pumped around Aspen by the Aspen Water Company. The story noted that the State Health Department had, for the fourth consecutive month, reported that Aspen’s water tested unsafe [and] that Sanitation District Secretary V.E. Ringle pointed out that there is absolutely no stream pollution in the Fork from Aspen’s sewage.
An early effort by Aspen to make itself more energy efficient finally showed results.
A two-year process came to fruition last week when Aspen and Pitkin County were notified that the final license for a hydroelectric plant at the Ruedi Dam had been approved … the next step in the process is [for the city] to review the over 80 proposals to finance and build the power plant … the estimated cost of the plan was $3.8 million.
A convicted murderer, who had steadfastly maintained his innocence, was about to be paroled and head to the Aspen area for a spiritual healing at the St. Benedict’s Monastery in Old Snowmass.
Despite an outcry from Old Snowmass residents who feared the presence of a convicted murderer in their midst, the parole board refused to intervene, leaving the retreat issue up to the monks and [convicted murderer Gene Jones, who was found guilty of the 1974 stabbing death of a University of Colorado coed after the two returned home from a date]. Jones, 35, was released from the Skyline maximum security prison in Canon City on Sept. 1.
” compiled by John Colson