1936: Birth of the best winter sports city in America
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.The greatest news that the residents of Aspen have ever heard in the past 30 years was given out last Monday evening at the regular meeting of the Lions Club by T. J. Flynn of Aspen and Pasadena, William M. L. Fiske III of Hollywood and New York, T. S. Ryan of New York and Thomas Harrison of Denver.These men are offering Aspen and this immediate territory and the state of Colorado one of the greatest winter sport resorts in the entire United States and Europe; and if this program is carried out to its conclusion, thousands and thousands of snow sport fans will spend their winters in Aspen instead of journeying to far distant lands for their hobbies and recreation.The success of this undertaking will mean the termination of a hope that has been fostered for more then 30 years by T. J. Flynn and W.C. Tagert, who as young men rode the ranges and talked over the possibilities of this territory. These men appreciated the beauty with which this community was endowed by the Creator, while other men did not stop to realize nor consider that other people of this World would travel thousands and thousands of miles to view a panorama as magnificent as this, which had sunk to the realm of common-place to those who resided in its midst.As the years rolled by they did not dim the visions of these men who had made great plans many years ago. Instead, the years made them more determined than ever to carry out what some called a “crazy idea.” Together they clung to the hope that if they could get the “right man” to view this country they would need no further incentive to go ahead and develop this territory into the finest recreational center in the United States.Last summer their dream came true.They talked with Mr. Fiske and told him of the tremendous possibilities of this vast area, but their words fell on skeptical ears, for this man had traveled the length and breadth of this globe and would not believe such a territory really existed in this country. Last week he came out to Aspen to look the country over and intended to stay but one day. Instead he stayed ten and then hated to leave, but his business interests in Hollywood made it impossible for him to be here any longer.Mr. Fiske has spent the last 15 years at the great European resorts and holds the Olympic bob-sled championship for this country. He has traveled the entire World visiting and enjoying the exhilarating sport of winter games, but he admits he has never in all his travels and experiences found a country that can, in any way, compare with the mountains in and about Aspen and Pitkin County.Mr. Ryan, a winter sports enthusiast of note, has spent the past three years at the European and other foreign resorts and he also admits that this resort has the possibilities of becoming the World’s largest, for the simple reason that what it has to offer the winter sportsmen of the world, cannot be equaled by other sporting center in any country.Mr. Flynn has been in Aspen since July working on this vast enterprise which is now rapidly taking shape. Options have been taken on the Highland properties on Castle Creek and on the Tagert ranch and lake on the Roaring Fork where headquarters will be built. For the past month nearly 20 men have been employed on the program and beautiful lodge nearly 40 x 70 feet is now being built on the banks of Castle Creek. This lodge is only one of the many that are scheduled to be erected on the ski course and will be a combination dormitory and recreation center and starting point for the course this winter. Overnight accommodations are being built for 16 at this lodge, which later on will be the center of a proposed village.Ski paths are being cleared and built from the lodge to the mountains which tower above the creek valley. Once over the ridge the greatest winter sports country is at hand. One can stand and view 14 peaks over 14,000 feet high and more than 30 over 13,000 feet. This panoramic view can not be excelled anywhere in the United States as there are only 52 peaks in this country that rise above the 14,000 foot mark and this territory can boast of a third of them alone.Some of the ski courses are nearly 30 miles long. Another has a 14 mile down grade stretch in all one straight line and many other shorter runs are being blazed for those who do not wish to take cross country trips.During the coming winter months two experts will remain at the location and prepare daily charts on the weather and its effects on the territory. These experts will make daily trips over the different courses and keep records of their findings and should their reports meet with the requirements of the backers a huge construction program will be launched early next spring in order that the work may be completed in the fall of 1937 and a great rush of snow sports enthusiasts is expected to follow, which will make Aspen the leading winter sport city in America, for winter sports is the fastest growing recreation in the World today and an effort will be made to attract some of the 8,000 Americans who went to Europe last year alone to enjoy the winter games.A determined, enthusiastic and cooperative effort on the part of the citizens of Aspen and Pitkin County should be given both Mr. Fiske and Mr. Flynn in putting over this, the greatest economic boom that this community will enjoy since the early 90’s. Our citizens must realize that an undertaking of this sort will be one of the greatest things that can ever be dreamed of, not only for this immediate vicinity, but for the state as well. In former years millions and millions of dollars worth of wealth was taken out of Aspen. Now there is a chance for that much and more to be brought back into Aspen, if the plans go thru to their conclusion and each and every one will greatly benefit by this vast project.Winter sports are gaining thousands and thousands of new followers every year. All other resorts are booked to capacity for the coming season. People are demanding something new. Trips to Bermuda and the southern climates are getting old and winter games are meeting the demand for a new thrilling recreation and this recreation does not grow old for anyone who has ever had the pleasure or opportunity of enjoying himself, or herself for that matter, for the fairer sex has taken to this fascinating sport with a zest that has put many he-man to shame.The promoters of this new resort are high in their praise of the united efforts on the part of the residents of Aspen towards making this program a great success. On every hand they have met with the earnest cooperation, which is as they state, the biggest factor in choosing Aspen as the location of their proposed undertaking and they assure the residents of our city that the combined efforts will result in the returning of Aspen to the once famous position it once held among the cities of the World, “The Crystal City of the Rockies.” (Nov. 19)
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