People of the Times
November 22, 2005
If you want the real take on the Stapleton Family, you have to go back to 1880, when Timothy Stapleton moved here from Cork County, Ireland, and put together the first Stapleton Ranch out on Owl Creek. This piece of land that has been divided up over the years to yield Pitkin County Airport, the Airport Business Center and the Aspen Sanitation plant. Timothy had two wives, the first dying early in their Aspen history, so there is a complicated series of relationships that holds the Stapleton family together. William C. Stapleton, namesake of the insurance company, and part of the second Stapleton family, which includes David E., Darrell, Don and Billie Lou liked to celebrate, particularly on Christmas Eve. Every year he would go over to my grandmother’s house at 233 W. Bleeker (Nellie Stapleton Sloss and her siblings) and make some of the world’s best eggnog for the whole darned family. We could sing really well in church later that night after having a few glasses of Uncle Bill’s eggnog.- Tony Vagneur
Leon Uris first drove up Loveland Pass in a biting December snowstorm. He arrived at our lodge past midnight, ashen-faced and trembling. But Lee was a tough ex-Marine who’d fought his way across Guadalcanal, so he was soon up to his neck in heights, snow and skiing. For some years he had his office at The Heatherbed and drove his motorcycle from town to write best-selling books and take breathers splitting our firewood. He mixed his Hollywood/New York lives with ours, often hilariously. He loved kids – within limits. When he and my husband took the Aspen Jr. Ski Team to Colorado Springs for a meet, Guido Meyer Jr. threw up all over the upholstery in his new Chrysler. Then the men spent the night cornering small boys scattered like leaves in a hurricane. After that, he donated cash. He was brilliant, sometimes difficult, a world-class practical joker and owned a heart as big as a barn. We’ll never forget him.- Martie Sterling
Though never a resident, Edward Holden first visited Aspen in 1882. He was a miner in Leadville in 1880, but at some point he decided that owning smelters was more profitable. Convincing friend Meyer Guggenheim, they began a series of smelter projects in Leadville and Denver.
The partnership did not last, and Holden turned his interest once again to Aspen and several mining interest he owned there. The difficulty encountered in refining the Aspen ore using traditional smelting methods lead Edward to developing a complicated modification of the Russell Process and the eventual construction of the Holden Lixiviation Works in 1891. This massive 22,000-square-foot industrial building was quite important to the Aspen community, in that it could better process the abundant lower-grade ores found in the area. Unfortunately the potential was never achieved due to the crash of the silver market in 1893. Though the city maintains an interpretive trail through the ruins, today little remains of the original structure. The HoldenMarolt Mining and Ranching Museum occupies two of the three surviving structures on the Marolt open-space entrance to town. – Larry Fredrick