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

compiled by John Colson
courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyThe scene at one of the Pitkin County Fairs, as it appeared around 1900. Note the prominent placement of the Hospital Tent, which fair organizers considered a key requirement for maintaining fair attendees' peace of mind.
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Plans continued for what The Aspen Democrat was calling the biggest fair Pitkin County residents would ever have seen, and the editor was paying particular attention to details.

RACES BETTER THAN EVER: Every indication points this year that the racing features of the Fair will be better than ever witnessed on the Western slope. Some of the best horses in the state are already on the ground and keeping the track warm in training.

THE HOSPITAL TENT: Mrs. Watt and Miss Mercer were out to the grounds and located their hospital tent. This is ever one of the chief features of Aspen Fairs and this year will be better than ever. So if you get hurt or have a fit and fall in it, you will be fixed up in a jiffy.

WOMAN’S COMFORT BUILDING: Mrs. Harry Brown has selected her committee for the Woman’s Comfort building and all the ladies were out to the grounds yesterday giving the building a thorough cleaning, painting, etc. It will be in fine shape for the opening day of the Big Fair.

ROMAN CHARIOT RACES: It was laughed at by some, as an advertising scheme, but … the chariots are already on the way. This one feature promises to surpass anything of the kind ever given on the Western Slope, if not the state.

GRAND BAND CONCERT: By the celebrated Redstone band on Thursday evening in the Opera House. Not a man, woman or child who attended last year will miss this rich musical treat…

As September ended and October began, the trial over the assault on the editor of The Aspen Daily Times got under way. In September, Times editor T.J. Murphy was attacked and clubbed over the head, allegedly by the sheriff, after apparent political disagreements among Murphy’s supposed Republican cronies, and an attempt by those cronies to evict Murphy from the building that housed the paper, which they claimed to own. The Aspen Democrat was giving the case front page coverage.

THE “INSURRECTION” IS IN THE COURT: … the matter is in the hands of the court and The Democrat knows that Judge Shumate will decide the case according to its merits … In the meantime, The Democrat will tell the people all that it can relative to the proceedings.

At the same time, Democrat editor Charles Dailey was enthusiastically proclaiming that The Times apparently was rethinking its habitual Republican editorial positions and endorsements.

First he [Editor T.J. Murphy] was going to support Copeland-Rohrbough-Koch [the men accused of attacking Murphy in his office] … but since the insurrection and the “spanking” at Redstone [when Murphy was essentially snubbed by the Republican powers of the county] he has sung a little “independent song” … But at long last our good brother has come through to where he belongs and yesterday morning came out flat-footed for Charles J. Hughes, Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, and this paper wishes to be the first to extend congratulations … We welcome you, Brother Murphy, to the only party that stands for the people.

Meanwhile, the trial of the “insurrection” continued, in the form of depositions being taken at the Pitkin County Courthouse revealing Murphy’s financial difficulties, a series of loans from the Copeland-Rohrbough-Koch faction to bail Murphy out of those difficulties, and the use of the Times property as collateral.

If but one half of the [testimony] of Mr. Rohrbough is true and the editor of this paper was the benefactor [sic], he would go the Limit for Rohrbough and then come back again and go it some more. A friend in need is a friend indeed, and it looks like Mr. Rohrbough was a friend to Mr. Murphy in a time of need. No nobler virtue warms the heart than that of gratitude which seems to be lacking in this “insurrection” business.

As the case wore on, it began to wear on the patience of the editor, especially when testimony pointed to Murphy’s apparent efforts to obtain loans fraudulently, by offering mortgages on the Times property to more than one party and promising to repay the loans with ad revenues from government public notices.

The insurrection case is still on and is becoming tiresome. [Testimony from Koch indicates] that Koch, Copeland and Rohrbough expected to control the political and domestic policy of the Times during the management of Murphy; that the [group] held many conferences … daily and semi-daily about the holding together of the Aspen Times [and that Murphy did not live up to his end of the arrangement.]

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

When The Aspen Times won a prestigious state-wide award for its journalism, it was trumpeted on the front page, albeit with a little self-deprecating humor.

The Aspen Times won the Parkhurst Community Service award, topping Colorado weeklies, last week, but Publisher William R. Dunaway, Mrs. Dunaway and editor Peggy Clifford almost missed the presentation completely. The Dunaways left Aspen for Boulder at noon [to attend the 6:45 p.m. ceremony] … their car commenced to issue clouds of steam just beyond Glenwood Springs … there was a leak in the cooling system so many stops to fill the radiator were necessary … they didn’t arrive in Boulder’s Memorial Hall until 8:30 p.m. … having missed the dinner completely [but not the awards presentation.]

Dunaway never missed a chance to use wit in his criticisms of city government operations, as was so amusingly shown in the following editorial.

Perhaps the most archaic and least efficient of all the [Aspen municipal government’s] poor practices, however, is the method currently in use to call the night policeman if an emergency arises. In Africa the natives still use jungle drums for communication, primitive Indians once used signals made with smoke. In Aspen, when the night marshal is needed a light is beamed from the roof of the Hotel Jerome to the ridge of Aspen Mountain. If the man on duty happens to be looking at the ridge when the light goes on, and if we can see the illuminated hillside, the response is quick. However, if for some reason he is not in a position to see the mountain, or does not look there, or cannot see it because of weather, then of course there is no response.

The paper celebrated along with the rest of town over the local football squad’s first win of the season.

Aspen’s ever-improving football team surged from behind in the second half of its first home game last Saturday to defeat a fast, shifty Silt squad 13 to 7. The game marked Aspen’s first victory in three starts …

The Town of Snowmass Village, in the middle of an effort to annex the entire Snowmass Ski Area into the town, ran into what a reporter termed a “fatal flaw” in the plan.

The annexation of the Snowmass Ski Area by the Town of Snowmass Village may soon be stopped dead in its tracks, according to county officials who have opposed the annexation and who now feel they have found a fatal flaw in the process … the U.S. Forest Service, which has an unofficial policy of remaining “neutral” in such [procedures] but whose participation is apparently required by state law. County Attorney Wes Light [says] that the required consent has not been given [by the USFS] and that, therefore, “the annexation must be challenged.”

Pitkin County officials and residents were complaining, without any hope that things would change, that two construction projects were too visible and too prominent ” the new Ruthie’s Restaurant on Aspen Mountain and the new county bus barn west of town on Highway 82.

The Ruthie’s question was raised by a contingent of West End residents, who declared that the new building was ruining their view of the mountain. [And one officials said of the bus barn] “they told us we’d never be able to see it … and now you drive by there and it looks like we’re building the Great Wall of China.”


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