1887: Railroad glee and a murder mystery
In celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Aspen Times, we are printing a story or two from each year the newspaper has existed – 125 historical selections in 125 days. This series is in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society.HIP! HIP! HURRAH!The Railroad Has at Last Reached Aspen – Yesterday’s Demonstration.All day yesterday people kept streaming out of town to see the Rio Grande track layers at work on the last stretch of the road. During the morning the cars appeared above the slaughter house and bets were made that the track would reach Hunter creek bridge by noon. These bets were lost, but all the same the work made wonderful progress. The grade was black with people watching the workers and a feeling of deep satisfaction animated the crowd at seeing the long promised railroad so near at hand at last. At noon the public schools were dismissed to give the children an opportunity to help celebrate the event. The schools marched to the scene in a body headed by the teachers, and the railroad officials courteously loaded them all on the train. The teachers were invited to ride with the engineer of the leading engine, and each of the ladies presented him wit a bouquet as a memento of the occasion.The men worked with a will, and Mr. McMurtrie was everywhere urging them forward. At 3:40 the screaming whistles and the roar of giant powder announced that the rails had struck the Roaring Fork bridge. Here the work had to slow up, because the mules had to be detached from the rail cars, but at 4 o’clock sharp the track had been pushed across the long trestle and had reached the depot flat. Then there was a renewed outbreak. Up at the Johnson mine, round after round of giant was fired, and from the engineers’ quarters close by came another round of salutes. From Aspen mountain also came the thunder of giant, while steam whistles on all sides joined in the din. While the celebration proceeded the men rushed on with the track, and when the hour for quitting arrived it had been spiked down clear up to the sampler. A wagon-load of beer had been provided and it was carried to the men by the water boys while they worked. The train pushed over into the depot flat, and the railroad in Aspen was an accomplished fact.Ths train was composed of twelve cars and was manned by the following crew:Conductor – C.S. LakeLeading engine – No 88.Engineer – Geo. GordonFireman – Thos. SmithBear engine – No.403Engineer – Beecher DynesFireman – Peter ClausonBrakemen – Ohas. Thomas, M.F. MasdenThe first passenger train will pull in possibly to-night and the first train out will leave the next morning.The grand barbeque will be given Saturday afternoon, at which time the track laying gang will have finished its work.GLENWOOD MURDERMurdered at GlenwoodGlenwood Springs, April 12 – A horrible and most atrocious murder was committed here last night, the victim being Ben Grant. Grant came here a week or two ago and had been drinking hard during his stay here. He had some $600 or $700 on his person. Yesterday he got pretty drunk toward night and his friends were somewhat alarmed lest he should fall into the hands of hold-ups. Late in the evening they took him to Jim Goodwin’s saloon and put him to bed in a back room. Goodwin was there and also his bar tender, Billy Ryan. Between two and three o’clock in the morning a couple of Grant’s friends called at the place to see if he was still in bed, fearing that he might have gotten up and gone out into the town again. They went into the bed room and were horrified to find Grant murdered. He had been struck on the back of the head with some blunt instrument and had evidently been killed instantly. The murdered man’s pockets were turned inside out and all his money was gone. Goodwin, Ryan, and a third man, whose name is not known, were in the saloon.The three have been arrested on suspicion of having been connected with the crime, but there is no evidence against them further than their having been there during the time when the deed must have been done in the adjoining room. Excitement is running very high and if the murderer or murderers should be certainly found, it would go hard with them. Grant came here from Sargeants and formerly lived at Gunnison. Billy Ryan worked on the Vallejo mine at Aspen when it was worked by R. C. Wilson. He had more lately kept a saloon at Independence.Jim Goodwin came here from Ashcroft. He kept a saloon at the latter place for a long time.[Billy Ryan and Jim Goodwin are both well known in Aspen, and it is not thought possible that they can be in any way responsible for the crime detailed above. Ed.]
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