25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 Years Ago

Devon Meyers/Aspen Times fileRiders in the Coors Classic round the corner from Mill to Main Street next to Aspen's Hotel Jerome in 1984.

A “bonanza camp” was predicted in the Hunter Creek Valley near Aspen a century ago, when gold fueled hopes of a new mining boom for the town that came to prominence during the silver rush of the late 1800s. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

The people of Aspen are indeed waking up!

Each morning at the break of day, numbers of men may be seen emerging from their places of abode in various parts of the city and with pick and shovel, shamefacedly heading for the hills and they will not be seen again until they show up with a gold assay.

Yes, we are all ashamed we have been drowsy so long!

For several weeks Arthur Colyer had been fishing and looking about on Hunter Creek. Last Tuesday he “got a hunch,” went up the creek and returned with rock that assayed twenty-two (22) ounces GOLD. As soon as this assay was secured, a number of mining men and others took steps to get in on the ground floor. …

The ore streak is in the granite, is four inches wide and has been traced for more than three thousand feet. The ore-bearing rock is the same as that found on the Roaring Fork, but looks better and carries more values.

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If there has been a doubt as to there being a gold-bearing belt near Aspen, it exists no longer. The recent activity in prospecting has shown there are contact gold veins and that the granite for a number of miles east of the lime belt is seamed with gold-bearing quartz which runs in almost every direction. The lead recently discovered runs almost north and south.

It is predicted that within two months it will be shown that the next bonanza gold camp of the country will be located in the vicinity of Thimble Rock on Hunter Creek.

Special events and outdoor music are nothing new in Aspen. In 1959, locals were ready to kick up their heels in the street. The Aspen Times reported:

The street in front of the Hotel Jerome will be the scene of an old-fashioned hoe-down this Saturday evening, July 25. Preceding the square dance, a picnic will be held in the City Park.

Both events will be sponsored by the Aspen Square Dance Club and proceeds will benefit the Pitkin County Hospital, Music Associates and Aspen Public School. The picnic starts at 6 p.m. and servings will continue until 8 p.m. when the dance will commence.

To facilitate dancing in the street, the fire department will hose down the area in front of the Jerome at 4 p.m. Then rubber chips will be spread on the clean surface.

Co-chairmen of the events, the Ken Isaksons and Robert F. Simonses, request that autos be moved from the hotel block by 4 p.m. so that preparations can be made for the dance.

These days, no one would likely complain about a 20-cent transaction fee at a local bank, but 50 years ago, a visitor to Aspen wasn’t happy about such “predatory” charges, and the Chamber of Commerce had heard similar complaints from other tourists, according to The Aspen Times. The newspaper reported:

Local banking facilities and the actions of Aspen’s Pitkin County Bank were criticized by the directors of the Chamber of Commerce, who voted to complain to the State Banking Commission at their regular meeting Tuesday, July 21.

Triggering the discussion of the bank, the only one in the Aspen area, was a letter received by the Chamber of Commerce complaining about a 20 cent charge made by the bank to cash a $20 travelers check.

Written by Martin Green, Springfield, N.J., the letter asked the chamber to took into the matter for the welfare of the community.

In his letter Green stated that he and his wife “spent five wonderful days here in Aspen. Your community is fully as charming and as interesting as the many brochures have promised…”

However the author found that the bank’s actions in charging a 20 cent fee to cash a travelers check put Aspen “in a rather predatory frame.”

A New Zealander won the Coors Classic bicycle race in Aspen 25 years ago, but not the money. The Aspen Times reported:

“When I woke up this morning, the legs weren’t as sore as they usually are,” said Jack Swart of New Zealand, “so I thought, well, maybe I might have a chance.”

As it turned out, Swart had a lot more than a mere chance.

In fact, as he stood around on Main Street Wednesday afternoon, chatting about his legs, Swart had both the Coors Classic gold medal and a very fresh memory of what he called “the biggest win of my life.”

What Swart did not have, however, was the $1,450 won by Canadian Steve Bauer in a “prime” (one-lap, special cash bonus) awarded for the first finisher at the end of the 17th lap. But that’s getting ahead of our story.

Swart, a top-ranked racer in his own country who has never really be a standout in international competition, won the Aspen stage of the Coors Classic with a last-minute sprint, edging Boulder’s Davis Phinney and Belgium’s Frank Verleyen by a few feet.

Those three riders finished at the front of a massive pack of 72 racers – including Aspen’s Alexi Grewal – who crossed the finish line virtually together. …

Grewal, the overall Coors Classic race leader, finished in 24th place, a result which had no effect on his status at the top of the standings.

– compiled by Janet Urquhart

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