From the Vault: Fire season |

From the Vault: Fire season

One b/w photograph of Augusta and Len Shoemaker at a trail construction camp on Willow Creek, 1925-.
Lena Van Loon

“Campfire ban has been lifted,” announced The Aspen Times on Sept. 21, 1939. “The Forest Service order banning campfires in forested areas outside established camp grounds was lifted last week by orders from Holy Cross Forest headquarters, according to an announcement made by Ranger Fred Cook, who is in charge of this district. The order prohibiting camp fires was invoked during the middle of July, when practically every forest was in the ‘extreme’ fire danger period due to an unprecedented drought which parched the Rocky Mountain region at that time. Rains during the past few weeks have reduced the fire hazard to ‘low’ and from now on until the snows come cool temperatures will prevail thus practically ending the fire danger period for this year. However, an exceptionally dry fall will bring the danger back again, but not to the degree which prevailed during the past summer. Fire losses in the Aspen district were kept at a remarkably low mark this year despite the fact that the fire danger reached the highest point in history, Ranger Cook said Monday. Close cooperation on the part of the tourists and especially the residents of this community made this possible. Local fire crews were called out on five fires and managed to keep the burned-over acreage at a very low figure. Many other fires were reported to the ranger’s office after they had been extinguished by ranchers and passing motorists before spreading beyond their control. Aspen’s fire crews were called out once to assist in bringing a fire under control near Glenwood Springs and, according to forest officials, did an exceptionally efficient piece of work on the job.” The image above shows a campsite in the wilderness in the 1920s or 1930s.

This photo and more can be found in the Aspen Historical Society archives at