Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago
February 11, 2004
Editor’s note: Copies of The Aspen Times from October 1903 until 1911 are missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives and the Pitkin County Library’s microfilm reels. In order to continue our journalistic history of Aspen, we will copy excerpts from The Aspen Democrat, the Times’ competitor 100 years ago.
An avalanche swept through Castle Creek, prompting several reports in the local papers, including:
Yesterday noon when the startling and heartrending news reached the city that a snowslide up Castle creek had come down, burying four log cutters in its bosom.
The unfortunate men to whom death probably came without the least warning sometime Wednesday afternoon were employed in cutting timber up Castle creek about 5 miles, in what is known as “Snowslide” gulch.
This is the worst snowslide which has occurred in Pitkin county since March 10, 1884, when eleven men lost their lives in a slide during the evening of that day. Six of them up Conundrum gulch, a branch of Castle creek, and four men at the Vallejo mine right in sight of Aspen, and one up Queen’s gulch, which branches out of Castle creek.
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All male citizens that can possibly do so are requested to meet at the opera house corner at 7:30 sharp this morning for the purpose of repairing to the scene of yesterday’s accident and digging the unfortunate men out.
The annual masquerade dance made headlines for more than its assortment of masks. The Democrat reported,
Last night a few of the youths in and around Aspen decided to treat the maskers at the masquerade ball to a real, genuine, old-fashioned cowboy poker game and therefore Frank Connors, Leonard Duncan, Billy Stapleton, Jim Rogers, Charle Powell and Fred Fooshe arranged themselves in cowboy toggery and joined the merry maskers.
During the course of the evening the boys took the center of the hall and seated on the floor started a game of poker. In a few moments the spectators were startled by hearing a shot and a scream and a little fellow was seen to fall to the floor. …
Each one of the cowboys say their gun wasn’t loaded and nobody seems to know who shot, and a man and a boy were wounded. The officers placed Stapleton and Fooshe under arrest and a hearing will probably be had today.
The paper went on to offer “A Lesson To Be Learned” …
The unfortunate shooting at the masquerade ball Monday evening should serve as a lesson to Aspen’s young men who are prone to be and act tough.
It is a too common occurrence for some of the city’s young men to bowl up before going to a ball. In fact this custom has become so habitual that it is not a rare sight to see young men slightly under the influence of liquor at most any of our grand balls.
This is bad, very bad.
The paper also offered these words of wisdom about Valentine’s Day …
Any day or event that causes the sending of messages of love and good cheer is a commendable one, therefore St. Valentine’s Day is or should be the time for the opening of hearts and little tokens exchanged. … Some may say this is “mushy.” All right, call it what you may, but right here it might be well to add that this sort of “mush” makes the happy home, and happy homes make a powerful nation.
The recently formed “Gems of Aspen” is an example of local lodge owners banding together for the greater good. Fifty years ago, a similar group was gaining momentum. The Times reported,
Aspen lodge owners organized at a meeting Monday evening and elected Burnham Miller to be their first president. The purpose of the new organization is to work entirely for the benefit of the tourist industry and Aspen. The officers and present membership are urging all lodge owners to join immediately so plans can be formulated for its operation.
Under a photo of a man skiing with his infant, the Times wrote,
Steve Knowlton, Maestro at his Golden Horn, believes in starting kids early and therefore he can be seen on sunny days with his 10 month old son, Jamie, in his arms making gentle runs down Little Nell. If there is anything in association and participation, little Jamie is bound to be a whiz just as soon as those little legs can support his body. Probably his first walking shoes will be ski boots.
Aspenites showed their community spirit in 1954 by lending a hand when the town most needed one.
The crisis of crises came to Aspen! The lower lift broke down ” an important part that takes a few days to replace. Wonderful snow, the little mountain village full of skiers. And now, long faces at the disappointing news.
But not for long. The town of Aspen mustered its forces and rallied to the cause. Aspen Ski School conferred with the Little Percent, the local taxi service, and organized to get us over the hump, up the mountain and onto our skis. All night long the plows and caterpillars of the Aspen Skiing Corp. worked to open the snowbound jeep road up the mountain from Castle Creek, by the Midnight Mine, to the Sundeck. Morning came, and the Colorado sun. All was ready. The skiers assembled at Little Nell and climbed into waiting trucks which took us up Castle Creek. Gathered there was a fleet of jeeps, manned by ranchers, tradesmen, lodge owners and residents who left their offices, work and homes to give of their time freely and graciously to haul load after load of skiers up that jeep road 3300 feet through forests and snow fields to the Sundeck and those glorious runs down the mountain.
The skiing boom was definitely in full swing 25 years ago, as evidenced by the following report,
The 1977-1978 ski season was the most profitable one in 10 years all across the continent, according to the results of the study conducted by the Business Research Division of the University of Colorado at Boulder. …
Breaking the skiing populace down by the states, the study shows that the largest percentage of skiers come from Texas, with California residents heading the list at Aspen and Vail.
The survey also reveals that Aspen tends to attract the largest percentage of Canadians and other foreign visitors, while Vail attracts the most Mexican visitors.
It seems the sighting (or potential sighting) of a Kennedy in Aspen has always been newsworthy. The Times wrote,
Senator Edward Kennedy will be speaking to the students at Aspen High School on Friday morning … he had been asked to be commencement speaker and couldn’t, so he suggested this date instead.
It appears history does, in fact, repeat itself …
An ordinance, numbered 9, bringing fractional fee ownership under Aspen’s subdivision regulations, was one of five ordinances adopted for the second and final time by the city council Monday.
During a discussion of the ordinance Aspen attorney Jeff Sachs told the council that placing fractional fee ownership under subdivision regulations was not enough and ways should be found to eliminate the practice.
He called fractional fee ownership “a disaster for the community,” and said it would drive the price of real estate out of the range of local owners, citing examples where existing houses had been purchased by four or more owners at more than double former values.