25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 Years Ago

compiled by John Colson
Photo courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyThis interior shot shows what historians believe was the Castle Creek power plant of the Roaring Fork Electric Light & Power Company. It was owned by D.R.C. Brown Sr. for many years in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when Aspen was a pioneer in municipal lighting and power systems.

An ongoing investigation continued into allegations of fraud or theft by the former Pitkin County Treasurer, W.H. McNichols, to the tune of some $1,500. The county commissioners appointed two accountants as special investigators to look into the matter, as had been demanded by The Aspen Democrat, which held that McNichols was innocent. Meanwhile, the war of words between the Democrats editor, Charles Cap Daily, and his chief rival, The Aspen Times, also continued …The demand of The Democrat has been granted [in naming] Experts Nelson and Hull to conduct such an examination … Excuse us while we loff and while the scold [Dailys nickname for The Times] weeps briny tears … Har! Har! Wow! He-He! Tee! This action of the county commissioners proves conclusively that the power of The Democrat has not waned … [w]hile our friend in the little frame building down by the Jerome was twisting and squirming and howling and scolding … The scold wanted Nelson and Hull put out; it [The Democrat] wanted them kept in! The scold is now left high and dry and is in the air!Addressing an issue that apparently was a recurring theme in local affairs, the civic official in charge of the towns irrigation ditches let it be known he had had enough of citizens mucking about in the ditches and wanted it stopped right away.Street Commissioner Stone publishes a notice this morning warning the residents of Aspen to leave the citys irrigating ditches alone, stating that he will enforce the penalty as imposed by an ordinance on all violators. If all are permitted to tamper with the ditches the city streets will be flooded more or less all summer and considerable annoyance will be felt by the residents … Lets do without the mud this year and pass the ditch business up to Mr. Stone.In keeping with its role as civic booster and moral guardian, The Democrat excoriated citizens for perceived infractions whenever they were perceived. In this item, which might conceivably been appropriate in modern times, the paper scolded bicycle riders for using the sidewalks instead of the street.Many of our bicycle riders are forming the extremely dangerous habit of riding their wheels on the sidewalk. This should not be done. First, it is against the city ordinance … Second, it is dangerous for pedestrians. Tuesday a little six-year-old boy was hit by a bicycle being ridden on the sidewalk … Luckily, the little fellow escaped with but a gash on his cheek. Keep off the sidewalk with your wheels.Never one to shy away from criticism of Aspens leading citizens, the editor pointed out that the owner of the Roaring Fork Electric Light & Power Company was noticeably back in town, as evidenced by a sudden rise in electric lighting rates. The paper, in scarcely disguised sarcasm, implied that he only showed up in Aspen because of some losses incurred in Wall Street investments.Mr. D.R.C. Brown is in Aspen. Mr. Brown has been here before. Yes he has! Mr. Brown was here some time ago and demanded … that the expenses of the city be cut … the city council took Mr. Brown at his word and cut off several arc lights … and they say he [Mr. Brown] got madder and madder. Shortly afterwards Mr. Brown left for Wall Street and tried to make good, it is said, his severe losses in Aspen. Mr. Brown evidently failed … as he soon returned and cut the wages of his employees $15 a month. And now hes back again and this time hes giving it to all us where the chicken got the axe. And everybody loves Mr. Brown … wont he ask us next February to give him another electric light franchise … and we, like a set of chumps, will give [it]. Is there anything else you want, Mr. Brown? Just ask for it …Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Societys archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.

Apparently at the urging of local citizens concerned about the quality of education in the Aspen schools, a Town Meeting on Education was announced. The intention, according to a news article, was to work toward a closer understanding between the public and the [school] board about the proper role and mission of the local schools, rather than criticize particular actions or policies of the current administration. The newspaper editorialized …If one agrees that something must be done about the state of our schools … he must realize what is lacking [such as] that certified educationists have grabbed the educational system by the throat or that teachers are not properly prepared to teach or that theres a classroom shortage or that too many people have asked the schools to do too much which is out of their proper domain.The other big topic of the day was where to put a new Highway 82 right of way, both in terms of connecting to Aspen from the west and possibly changing the highways route through the city. At a meeting of civic, business and fraternal leaders, it was agreed that none of the alternative new routes were any good.Because they apparently called for low level bridges, routes two and three [to link to Main Street or Hopkins Avenue from the Marolt property] were rejected by the members, who voted to ask the state to carry out alternative one [a more direct route over Marolt] on the western approach with a high level bridge … also suggested at the meeting was a recommendation that if funds were lacking for a high level bridge and new highway construction the present western approach could be retained and a new bridge built.

A committee of officials and citizens held a series of meetings to both select a new police chief and review the operations of the Aspen Police Department, including such policies as drug enforcement, media relations and nonpolice input into police activities. No names of potential police chiefs were released, but certain policy issues received considerable attention.Procedures for drug enforcement should include lecture and release for first offense of public use of marijuana, with officer to use his judgment on subsequent arrests … however, public use of other controlled substances should result in arrest. The committee supports bathroom checks, not checks of individual bathroom stalls, but only as part of a total bar check routine. It also recommended that local police not engage in undercover work since it conflicts with being easily identified and highly visible for service oriented functions.Where alcohol use is concerned, police should be oriented toward prevention, and should promote a local detox center and establishment of a tipsy taxi to help prevent drunks from driving. Nonetheless, DUI should still be aggressively pursued and strictly enforced.Affordable housing was still a relatively new issue, and mainly was being pursued by Pitkin County, when the countys housing director of three years decided to call it quits.Citing personal reasons for his departure, Jim Hamilton told The Aspen Times that he expects to do some consulting work for the county in the immediate future, but that after that he has no plans at all … he will be replaced, on a temporary basis by his assistant, Gail Mahoney Schwartz. During his years with the county, Hamilton found his time divided between the struggle to build more employee housing and the ongoing tooth-and-nail battle with Jay Kuhne, owner and developer of the Silverking Apartments [now called Hunter Creek Condominiums] … there were 47 housing units in the city and county under price or rent controls when he took office. Now … 254 new controlled units have been built and 174 existing units have been converted from free-market to price/rent-controlled.