From the Vault: Who’s the Fool?

One lantern slide of Aspen Mountain and Shadow Mountain showing the profile of the SIlver Queen and the west end of town. Looking directly down Garmisch (known as Center Street). The Hallam Lake Pavilion is in the Foreground. Taken in the Fall.
John Bowman

“The day was not generally observed,” stated a headline in the Aspen Weekly Times on April 4, 1896. The paper was referring to an apparent lack of pranks on April Fool’s Day, noting that the “weather was too chilly for March outdoor sport of this character and times were too hard to risk putting dollars on the sidewalk. March in Aspen went out like a lion and April came in as March went out, with the weather barren of the balmy, sunshiny characteristics usually connected with Easter time. The cool atmosphere that prevailed on April Fool day was not calculated to arouse the April fool joker to special activity. Only a few of them went abroad in the city with their schemes to catch the unwary, and it was too cold to put them into practice on the sidewalk, hence the general public failed to see the fun and had to be content with hearing the incidents related — seeing it second handed, as it were. At the courthouse Tom Coll caught a visitor by the old ‘lost knife’ ruse. The pocket knife had been heated until it was almost red, and laid on the floor. Along came the stranger and spied it upon the smooth surface. He picked it up, but retained it only a short time. What he said would not look well in print. One of the local candy stores put upon its shelves an article of candy resembling extended chocolate drops, and this was made use of by many school girls, and those yet older, to catch their unsuspicious friends. When the April Fool victim had put his or her teeth through the stuff it was found to be wood; only this and nothing more. Times were also too hard to trust silver dollars on the sidewalk as mediums with which to fool the unsuspecting pedestrian, and there was none of that kind of sport as in former days when it was not so hard for people to get the dollars. Taken altogether it was a very quiet April Fool day in Aspen.” The image above shows Aspen and Aspen Mountain circa 1895, looking down Garmisch (then known as Center Street).

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

Aspen Times Weekly

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