Aspen Times Weekly: From the archives

The town of Tourtelotte Park, on Aspen Mountain. Several roads and buildings are visible, as well as mine tailings, circa 1890.

“Yesterday forenoon a fire was started on the top of Aspen Mountain by a party burning some brush and rubbish,” reported the Aspen Daily Chronicle, Sept. 4, 1889. “When he had started the fire he could not control it, and it soon reached other undergrowth and trees and got into a huge pile of tram timbers, piled up to be used in the construction of the tramway. When the fire was under fair headway in these timbers, there was for a time very little hope of getting it under control until thousands of dollars of damage was done. Cloud after cloud of dense smoke continued for nearly two hours after noon to rise, half hiding from the view of the city the leaping flumes which shot heavenward. Between 1 and 2 o’clock in the afternoon the Aspen fire boys summonsed by a fire bell met at the city hall. When they arrived they found a large force of miners gathered in an army to light the flames. The mine owners had called for aid from every possible source, and they were paying them $4 an hour for their work. The fire crossed Spar gulch and ran like a prairie fire under a strong wind. The forces were concentrated at the most critical moment, in cutting down trees and cutting an excavation about as wide as an ordinary street, for the purpose of heading off the flames before they reached Tourtelotte Park and the flourishing little village, which would have been totally destroyed had it not been for the well organized effort of the firemen. After the fire had crossed Spar gulch and made its rapid flight for nearly a half mile up the mountain side of a spur of Aspen mountain, the flames in all their fury were in full view to the city, and it looked for a time as if everything in the nature of improvement in the park would be lost. At 4 o’clock the park was out of danger, and the forces working in different localities had the fire under control. Under the circumstances the firemen did nobly, saving a vast amount of property which it would have cost many thousands to replace.”

The image above shows the town of Tourtelotte Park on Aspen Mountain, circa 1890.