25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com
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25-50-100 Years Ago

Compiled by John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyCooper Avenue in downtown Aspen, circa 1910, was a rather forlorn looking place, with signs fading, storefronts looking vacant and a lack of the hustle and bustle that characterized the scene only a few years earlier. This photo probably was taken by John Bowman, who moved to Aspen as a teenager in the early 1890s and later took up photography.
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While Aspen settled into the long twilight of what came to be known as “The Quiet Years” ” the period between the collapse of the silver boom in the early 1890s and the advent of skiing in the 1940s ” the city council often had to deal with the side effects of that decline.

Alderman Wagner called attention to the dilapidated condition of several buildings and suggested they be condemned. The marshall was instructed to notify the owners or agents of the buildings to board them up or they would be condemned and torn down …

Alderman Nevitt spoke of the bad condition of the sidewalk west of the Hotel Jerome [in front of the Aspen Times offices] and the street supervisor was instructed to repair same.



In a tale of crime and punishment, the Pitkin County commissioners finally decided they had to act regarding apparent embezzlement by the former county treasurer, who was alleged to have misplaced nearly $4,000 in public funds.

… the county attorney … is instructed to at once commence suit against William H. McNichols and his official bondsman for the amount of the shortage … and also that complaints be filed … charging him with the embezzlement of said funds.




McNichols, however, refused to admit guilt in the matter and told Editor Charles Dailey that he was prepared to pay back all the money that was missing and to defend himself in court.

“I feel that I have been given the worst of it in this arrest as I had given no cause for such action, and [the arrest] seems in my mind to be nothing more than political jobbery …”

Besides the sport of watching public officials bicker with each other and boosting the fortunes of the local baseball squads, The Aspen Democrat kept track of the game fish pulled from local waters.

Will Barber caught the largest trout of the season yesterday in the Roaring Fork and was not afraid to let the people see it either, for he carried it by the gills through the city. The trout was caught at the end of Hyman Avenue near the bridge. It measured 16 inches and weighed two pounds, and will be on exhibit at Lamb’s Drug Store for the duration.

The editor also kept his eye on the local business community, and let his readers know when any important establishment changed hands.

John Richardson of Glenwood Springs purchased the interest of Thomas Latta in the Abbey saloon [located on Galena Street and not related to the Red Onion on Cooper Avenue, which Latta built in the 1890s] and will leave the present manager, Mr. Walter Cook, in charge of the business here. Mr. Richardson is favorably impressed with the outlook for Aspen and says it is only a matter of time until things will be more prosperous.

(Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.)

Ever since Albert Schweitzer, Thornton Wilder and Jose Ortega y Gassett showed up for the Goethe Bicentennial in 1949, from which were born the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival and School, Aspen had attracted a rich blend of the world’s movers and shakers.

The unexpected arrival of one of the world’s foremost diplomats, United Nations General Assembly President and New Zealand Ambassador to the United States Sir Leslie Knox Munro, has resulted in a change to this week’s Aspen Institute lecture program … The former New Zealand lawyer , law professor, journalist and editor will discourse on “Can Peace Be Achieved Through The United Nations.” [Donald] Hughes’ talk [which the ambassador displaced], “Science, Morality and Insanity,” has been postponed indefinitely.

They say that all publicity is good publicity, but Aspen’s civic boosters likely were stung by the following story.

Accustomed to being praised for its many attributes, Aspen was the subject of a derogatory blast last week in The Denver Post … [a letter] signed by Lisbeth Parthier of Lakewood, Colo. … [who recently] went to Aspen for the first time … “I’ve been in other cultural centers in the States and in Europe. I was truly appalled at what I found in Aspen. There was dirt, dust and rubbish everywhere … Is there no community pride to keep it clean? If streets are unpaved, can’t they be oiled? Is there any excuse for rubbish and high weeds around practically every private residence and piece of public property? The place reeks of neglect and decay.”

In an unusual twist to the ongoing debates over affordable housing, the city learned that one of its supposed employee units suddenly was too expensive for its own employees.

An employee unit on the edge of the golf course built by former police chief Rob McClung is now too expensive for city employees. Although an estimated $32,000 of improvements made by McClung are not included, the annual 7 percent controlled price increase brought the [buy-back] cost to the city to $165,000 and no city employees are interested. However, if the city does not pick up its option to purchase the half-duplex from the former police chief, he has the right to sell it on the open market and keep all proceeds above the $100,000 estimated value for the land contributed by the city. [T]he city council decided it should pick up the option and ask the housing authority to market the property to other employees in the area.

Aspen may be a dog-loving town, but a trio of Pitkin County landowners opposed plans to build a commercial dog kennel and veterinary service along Highway 82 near Watson Divide Road, near their homes.

It’s not that neighbors Paul Hamwi, Jerry Gerbaz and Richard Stutsman were unalterably opposed to the clinic, they were worried about Dequine’s [the veterinarian proposing the clinic] plans to set up boarding kennels there. The noise of barking dogs was something they would rather not hear, according to their complaint … The [Pitkin County] commissioners decided they would explore what kind of sound insulation Dequine might use, take a look at the possible traffic situation and see if barking dogs might also have an adverse affect [sic] on the elk and deer herds in the area.


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