Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago
February 25, 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.
The Quiet Years were just around the corner, and Aspenites began to flee town for greener pastures. The Democrat wrote, among other farewells:
The furniture of William Huff was yesterday packed and prepared for shipment to California where his wife and son are now located. Mr. Huff is now located at the Hotel Jerome. …
A large crowd gathered at the depot at evening to bid farewell to Captain Monaghan and wife who took their departure for Excelsior Springs, Mo., where they go to remain some time. …
Walie Breach, who has been sojourning the city for several months undecided as to where he would go in search of a new location, took his departure last evening on the Rio Grande for Cripple Creek where he may decide to take up his residence. …
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Frank Shields, one of the city’s most prominent young men who has been engaged at the Tomkins Hardware company for several years, being an industrious and promising young man, has resigned his position with the firm and is planning on leaving the city in the near future to join his parents located in Mexico. …
Si Brown, one of Aspen’s old time mining men being well known by scores of people in this city, took his departure last evening on the Grande for Cripple Creek, where he goes to take up his future residence, having a fine prospect in his view. …
Fred Ritts, a well known mining man of the city having been employed on the Mollie mine as engineer for years departs this morning on the Midland for Cripple Creek where he goes to take up permanent residence being engaged in leasing. …
Still others were beginning to see Aspen’s potential not as a mining mecca, but as a tourist destination.
Colorado has immeasurable wealth in its mines and fertile fields, but its really inexhaustible resources are climate and scenery. Upon one of these, and for less than six months of the year, one of the smaller nations of Europe has built a national business that gives support to hundreds of thousands of people. But unlike Switzerland, Colorado’s matchless climate makes its scenic charms accessible at all seasons of the year, and forms in itself an attraction sufficient to draw thousands of visitors to the state every year.
But all that has been done in the way of development of Colorado’s climatic and scenic resources is only a small part of what is possible. The supply of invalids and tourists in the great states that lie to the east and south of us is practically unlimited, and for every visitor that now comes to us Colorado ought to receive dozens and evens hundreds.
Speaking of climate, signs of spring were evident downvalley with passenger train service soon to be resumed.
In an article published in a Basalt paper it stated that C.H. Speers, general passenger agent of the Colorado Midland, gave out the pleasant news that within the next ten days if not sooner the two trains which were taken off early in the winter would be put in service again, making two trains daily going east and west. This will be good news for Aspen as well as Basalt. It will probably mean two trains out of here each day going east and west.
Ski pioneer Friedl Pfeifer was indeed a visionary, and with this letter to stockholders of Aspen Skiing Corp., laying out plans for the future of Aspen Mountain.
It has become apparent that the Aspen Skiing Corporation will have to provide added ski lift facilities on Aspen Mountain. … It has occurred to me that the money spent this way over a period of ten or so years would be so great that serious consideration should be given to an aerial tramway. …
I propose that this tramway would start near the bottom of Little Nell, go through Spar Gulch to the dam where the midstation would be, and then continue on to the Sundeck. …
As far as I know there is some thought of building a platter-puller from the dam to the Sundeck. I personally am quite unhappy to hear this since I consider a platter-puller a somewhat improved rope tow. A long lift of this type, located on top of the mountain, would certainly be a very cold affair on our stormy days.
As the current Aspen chamber discusses a possible move, the 1954 chamber was celebrating its new digs.
Henry L. Stein, president, reported that the Chamber of Commerce building was paid for, and because of generous discounts in materials, its cost was kept to slightly over $800, all labor being volunteer. Having a building as a center of activities has made a big difference in the function and dignity of the organization. New members were officially voted in, the present count is 109 compared to 52 a year ago and 70 last November.
One of Aspen’s skiing icons was just beginning to make headlines 50 years ago. The Times wrote,
Max Marolt, Aspen’s No. 1 junior skier is now reported racing with the American FIS team due to an injury to Buddy Werner, alternate who took the regular team berth made vacant when Bill Beck suffered a broken leg in practice.
The town’s police department continued to capture headlines, as well as the attention of the Times’ editor, who wrote,
What kind of police force do Aspen residents want? This is a question that is being debated on the streets, in the bars, at business and club meetings and in city council chambers. There are apparently as many answers as there are different groups and different council members.
What kind of police force does this newspaper want? Certainly not the rough, intolerant, bully boys of the 1960s, who seemed to revel in hassling anyone with long hair, resident or visitor, who felt that a snarl as more effective than a smile, and who were subject of a civil liberty suit in Denver federal court, as well as critical editorials in this paper.
But to achieve this solution we must let the chief run his department, and not let the force degenerate into management by petition. Petitions are easy to launch and we could conceivably have as many as there are residents with strong ideas. But if the chief cannot, or will not, do the job required, then we can look for another. We think the job we want is being done.
Aspen took its first step toward a ban on smoking in public places in 1979 with this ordinance:
An ordinance prohibiting smoking in all city buildings, or at all public meetings, was adopted by the Aspen City Council on first reading Monday. …
The ordinance finds that “smoking of tobacco or any other plant or weed under certain conditions is a matter of public concern and that in order to protect the public health, safety and welfare it is necessary to control such smoking in public places.”
Much like today, Snowmass Village struggled with growth 25 years ago. Of course this type of development pales in comparison to the proposed Base Village.
Pitkin County commissioners Monday approved a letter to trustees of the town of Snowmass Village expressing concern about the size of the proposed development on property owned by Fritz Benedict.
Benedict has proposed 278 units over eight years, or about 34 units a year.
Snowmass planner Joe Wells estimated that ” assuming approval of the Benedict proposal ” the 1979 buildout would be 351 units, or 160 units more than the 191 that growth management plan envisioned. The growth, said Wells, would be us by as much as 50%.
Even without the Benedict project, Wells said, Snowmass growth with the current buildout is exceeding the growth management plan by 40 units.
Not to toot our own horn, but ….
The Aspen Times family of newspapers won seven awards during the Colorado Press Association last weekend, including the sweepstakes prize for the Times itself in general excellence and editorial writing.
In addition to the two overall awards, the Aspen weekly earned an honorable mention in its class for typography, layout and design.