25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 Years Ago

Train wrecks were a fairly common occurrence in western Colorado around the turn of the 19th century. This derailment of a Colorado Midland freight train happened, according to a note on the back of the photograph, below Basalt on the Roaring Fork River in the early 1900s. (Courtesy Aspen Historical Society)
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In its continuing criticism of efforts by D.R.C. Browns firm, the Roaring Fork Electric Light and Power Company, to solidify its position as provider of electricity to the city, The Aspen Democrat announced in bold, multi-deck headlines its skepticism of the companys motives and methods:The D.R.C. Brown Electric Lighting Company Quietly Arranging to Grab a 20-Year Franchise in Aspen.CAN WE DO BETTER? LET US FIND OUT!The Democrat Asks the City Council to Go Slow Before It Ties the Hands of Aspens Citizens.In the article accompanying the headlines, the editor suggested the town should appoint a committee to explore competitive bids by other power companies, with the result that within a week Brown had relented and offered lower rates both to the city and to private customers.The Democrat knows that Mayor Cain and every alderman is with the people in all cases, and therefore the people need not worry that their rights will be given away without due reciprocity. Why not appoint a committee of aldermen, Mr. Mayor, to confer with the Shoshone Electric Power outfit [in the nearby town of Glenwood Springs] and see what they will give Aspen and her people in the matter of lighting rates…?The coming of the rail lines in the 1890s was Aspens salvation in many ways, but the boon was not without its bane, as shown in an article detailing a nasty wreck on the Rio Grande line. The wreck was caused by rotting ties that split apart when the heavy train passed over the rails, derailing two passenger coaches and three freight cars.The Denver & Rio Grande train due to arrive in Aspen at 12:20 yesterday afternoon met with an accident a mile and a half from the old Rio Grande depot … It was fortunate the accident occurred where it did as the ground was comparatively flat and almost on a level with the grade, which prevented the cars from rolling. Had the train proceeded 100 feet further the cars would have had a sheer drop of ten feet into the river …Amid all the politics and calamity of the day, the Aspen High School Class of 1908 took its final collective bow in a ceremony for what the paper said was the largest graduating class to date, except for one year that was not named.The commencement exercises for the class of 1908, composed of twenty-one young ladies and gentlemen, were held at the Wheeler Opera House last evening. The stage of the opera house was tastefully decorated with the High School colors of cherry and black and the class color, lavender, was greatly in evidence. Very sweet and charming did the young girl graduates look in their dainty white dresses … The young gentlemen of the class, while perhaps not to be catalogued in the same class with the young ladies, were all manly looking boys who gave promise of being active workers in the worlds great field of honest endeavors.At about the same time, the building that housed the graduation ceremony was sold, to a businessman from another part of the state, for back taxes.At yesterdays session of the county commissioners, Mr. A. Ferrington of Colorado Springs appeared before the board in company with Mr. J. B. Wheeler of New York City and Judge Robinson of Colorado Springs, to secure a reduction in the $4,800 taxes due … for the past ten of twelve years … [T]he commissioners decided that on the payment of $3,000 by Mr. Ferrington they would authorize the issuance of a tax certificate to him … The amount was paid, and Mr. Ferrington is now to all intents and purposes the owner of the Wheeler Opera House block.Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Societys archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.

With news that Aspen would host two prestigious ski racing events in the next year and a half, the town and The Aspen Times were gleeful.Aspen will be the site of the 1959 National Alpine Championships as well as the site of the 1960 Olympic Alpine meet, it was decided last weekend at the NSA convention in Alta, Utah. The 1959 championships … will be run in conjunction with the Roch Cup, which will be used … as one of the tryout meets for the American Olympic Team … According to [Aspen] Ski Club President Jack Carson, the club will attempt to have six different courses, two for each event … This race meet, which is slated to become the second most important event of the Olympic year, is scheduled to be held in February, 1960, 10 days before the games open on the 18th.While skiing was the king of Aspens local recreational attractions, sports car racing had its day in the local sun as well, owing in part to the fact that editor Bil Dunaway had always been an avid racer himself.Aspens first legitimate sports car event since September, 1954, has been scheduled for June 14 and 15 … Dubbed the Golden Aspen Rallye, the meet will be sponsored jointly by the Aspen and Denver sports car clubs, and will begin … at the courthouse in Golden, Colorado. Terminal point for the transmountain drive will be Aspen and the secret course, which will not be released until the beginning of the rally, will take approximately 8 hours to cover.Trailer parks, even in the 1950s, were not normally heralded by local editors as signs of economic development, but in Aspens case perhaps nothing was normal even back then.Tourists who come to Aspen with their own trailers will find new accommodations at their disposal after the inauguration this week of Riverside Mobile Homes, a deluxe trailer park on the edge of the city. Owned by Mr. and Mrs.. G.E. Buchanan, the new installation is located on the Roaring Fork River a hundred yards east and north of the Pitkin County Courthouse. The park … allows 1500 square feet of space for each trailer. There are 23 plots available for transient or permanent occupation.

As an example of the inflationary rise in the costs of land in the upper valley, an advertisement in the paper was asking what would now seem a ridiculously low price for a lot of land.180 ACRES $500,000 Snowmass Creek Valley, adjoining St. Benedicts Monastery. Seller will finance at 10 percent interest.The 1982-83 ski season was, like the 2007-2008 season that just ended, marked by extraordinary snow depth and a correspondingly nerve-wracking spring.Their homes and safety endangered by the threat of a buildup of water behind a mudslide in Coal Creek, residents in low-lying areas of the Crystal River Valley were evacuated Friday by emergency crews. According to Pitkin County Undersheriff Don Davis, melt water from the exceptionally deep snowpack had saturated everything, and a sudden mudflow Friday afternoon blocked Coal Creek with a mud plug some 35 feet wide and 25 feet high … water backed up behind the plug [and] closed one lane of Mid Continent Resources coal mine access road.Meanwhile, yet another problem facing the state today was beginning to rear its head a quarter of a century ago.Mountain pine beetles are staging an invasion of Pitkin County and in an effort to control the crawling menace the Pitkin County CSU Extension Service and the Colorado State Forest Service will sponsor a workshop for private landowners. [The pests] attack ponderosa and lodgepole pines, causing their eventual destruction. According to the extension service, increasing infestation by the beetles will continue if not controlled. compiled by John Colson


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