From the Vault: Snowed In
“Another heavy storm blankets community; travel bogged down,” lamented The Aspen Times on Feb. 9, 1939. According to the paper, keeping the roads and streets open was almost impossible, and many were snowed in. As the article continued, “another heavy snow storm blanketed Aspen and the surrounding country this week leaving nine inches in its wake — and nearly every motorist who ventured out stranded in snowbanks along roads and city streets. This additional snowfall brings Aspen’s total for this year to 131.5 inches, just 60 inches under the record set in 1936. If the present rate of snowfall continues during the next two months the old record figures will be relegated to the waste basket in short order. The task of keeping county roads and city streets open is becoming more difficult daily. In many instances city streets are completely snowed in and residents are having considerable difficulty in having coal and other necessities delivered to them. Coal truck drivers find it impossible to make some deliveries. Most county roads are being maintained under most trying conditions. The main roads are receiving first attention, however, they require almost constant attention of snow plow crews and therefore little time is left for work on the side roads. State highway No. 82 is being kept open with county equipment and is reported in fair condition. The big difficulty encountered by plow crews are the high banks of snow piled along the roads, which are now impossible to move back to make room for more snow. Only snowplows with ‘wings’ can be used to any advantage under existing conditions.” The photo above shows the Buttermilk and Tiehack areas, taken from a very snowy McLain Flats road, circa 1940.
This photo and more can be found in the Aspen Historical Society archives at aspenhistory.org.
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Many locations on Basalt Mountain were barren as recently as two months ago. However, nutrients unlocked during the Lake Christine Fire and a wet winter have sparked a remarkable recovery. Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is leading fire ecology tours to discuss the changes.