Book rekindles interest in Aspen’s Independence Pass
May 25, 2017
I'm more thrilled than usual about Independence Pass opening for the summer, thanks to a book about Aspen's sacred place by Paul Andersen and David Hiser.
I went to a book signing by the two Aspenites in 2014 and then promptly added their work, "High Road to Aspen," to my 6-foot-high "to read" pile. I finally got to it this winter and it immediately made me yearn for summer. Highway 82 over the pass is scheduled to open today at noon.
I thought I knew Independence Pass pretty well. I've done some hikes to obscure mining ruins on the east side of the pass and visited the usual haunts on the west side. It turns out my knowledge was lacking.
Andersen put a ton of research into this book. He explains why it was in Leadville's best interests to develop the road over Independence Pass that goes beyond the obvious reasons. He showed the road was nearly forgotten when the railroads finally reached Aspen via different routes.
He delves into the development of Twins Lakes and way stations that existed in places such as Weller. He dug up numerous articles as far back as the 1870s with tales about knife fights, deadly avalanches and the origins of Balltown.
(Full disclosure, I worked with Paul at The Aspen Times in the late 1980s and early 1990s and he is still a columnist for the paper, but I'm plugging the book because it's fascinating, not because of a friendly connect.)
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The book is packed with a mix of historical photos and Hiser's usual stunning work.
I'm entering the summer with plans for three new hikes and with a lot more knowledge about Independence Pass thanks to this great work. I'd advise picking it up to be prepared by the time the snow melts.