25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 Years Ago

Compiled by John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyBy the mid-1960s, cycling was popular in Aspen, even on Independence Pass before it was paved. But a few years earlier, cyclists were so uncommon that some, including the local sheriff, forgot to look for them when making a turn from a busy thoroughfare.

As the lamentable controversy over “the insurrection” case continued, it appeared that editor T.J. Murphy of The Aspen Times (unavailable for inspection, see explanation below) fired off a few editorial attacks upon The Aspen Democrat. The Democrat editor, Charles “Cap” Dailey, fired back in a commentary titled, “Common Courtesy.”

Go right ahead, Mr. Murphy, and say all that you may or tell all that you can about us. It is true we did have a judgment served on us, the amount of which was incurred by doing a humane act, the nature and purity of which prohibits further reference, but that judgment has been paid … honorably. Can you say as much, Mr. Murphy? The Democrat has not mortgage hanging over its head. Can you say as much for your paper, Mr. Murphy? The Democrat never had a friend advance $75 a month for its salary roll and then turned against that friend. Can you say that, Mr. Murphy? Have you any honor, Mr. Murphy?

But even as the papers engaged in skirmishes in print, there were moments of camaraderie.

The stork made a flying trip to the Crystal City of the Rockies last night and this time presented a bright little 10-pound editor to Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Murphy. The Democrat wishes to be first in extending congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Murphy…

Switching to local politics of a more traditional sort, the editor waxed eloquent about the candidacy for sheriff of a man who lived outside the boundaries of Aspen, which apparently never would have happened back in the city’s boom days.

There was a time when Aspen and its suburbs held almost the entire population of Pitkin County [and] county officers were selected … from the city and its environs. But since the county districts have grown and the city has dwindled in population, no such reason exists for searching in Aspen alone for candidates. [Following the nomination of Jack Kauble for sheriff], able city candidates realized that the man from the country would come out a winner … Everybody in town knows him and likes him, while his neighbors in the rural districts are enthusiastic in his support.

It was the season for politics, of course, and it so happened that the telephone and telegraph wires were down thanks to an early dump of snow (see below), and as a result the newspaper wire services weren’t able to deliver dispatches to the local journals. To cope with the situation, the editor put his political outrage into high gear, excoriating B. Clark Wheeler as a political carpetbagger and scalawag in league with the recently disgraced Republican “gang.”

The people have been fooled by the old gang too often. It won’t go! If B. Clark Wheeler loves Aspen so much [as to wish to represent it through elective office] why did he leave here when silver went down [Wheeler decamped to seek his fortune in the Nevada silver mines]. Who believes if he should be elected that he would stay in Aspen, or even Colorado … if he has such a good thing in Nevada [as] he says he has?

Weather, always a fickle phenomenon, was just as unpredictable in late October a hundred years ago ” and sometimes just as deadly ” as it is today.

Marshal Boyer came in last night from the head of Piceance Creek … to say there is two and a half feet of snow where he was hunting and that the snowstorm which we are enjoying here in Aspen is a terror in that section. A party of “big-bugs” and their auto are stuck in the snow banks … one of the party had wandered off and was lost and, it was feared, had perished in the storm.

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

Even a half-century ago, conflicts between bicycles, cars, pedestrians and other modes of transport occasionally ended in injury and accusations.

A bike riding Aspen newcomer suffered a cracked bone in his arm last week when he and Pitkin County Sheriff Lorain Herwick collided on Main Street. Riding on Main Street near Conners Service Station … Kogi Kataoka reported that the sheriff passed him and then turned into the station, striking the bike and its rider. [Checking on Kataoka] the sheriff picked up his bike and left him [after which Kataoka went to a doctor and found] that the radius bone in his right arm, which was also badly scraped, was cracked [and] is now infected. At the present time Kataoka is seeking legal advice … desiring to have his medical bills paid by the sheriff’s insurance company.

State and federal water officials had been eyeing the Roaring Fork River gorge above Aspen as a possible site for a reservoir, an idea that met with vigorous resistance among Aspenites.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board has definitely dropped plans for a 6,000 acre-foot reservoir above Aspen, director Felix L. Sparks said. A survey team … examined two possible sites and found neither feasible. As a result … survey parties will not limit their search to the Roaring Fork and the proposed reservoir will not be limited to 6,000 acre feet, Sparks added. The entire project is being planned as a prerequisite [for] a congressional nod for the much-defeated Fryingpan-Arkansas diversion project [intended for Fryingpan water to be] diverted under the Continental Divide into the Arkansas River.

As most of America began its infatuation with the new electronic medium of television, Aspen learned it was about to share in the technological marvel that was revolutionizing the country’s economy, culture and politics in ways no one would begin to understand for several years.

Television can and will be brought to Aspen in the near future, it was decided … at a special meeting of interested citizens in City Hall. The Aspen TV Committee … decided to go ahead with plans to construct a booster-converter tower similar to one now in use at Carbondale. Members of the committee elected Gene Mason chairman … and Bob Moore secretary treasurer. Two subcommittees were also chosen [and] named as chairman of the important subcommittee for finance and publicity was Lawrence Elisha. [Others involved included] Ken Broughton, Frank Dolinsek, John Archibald, Louis Popish and John Dolinsek.

A tourism official in Snowmass Village made it his mission to put an end to the off-season doldrums that had long brought peace and quiet to Aspen and Snowmass after the hectic months of the winter and summer seasons.

If there’s anything Jim Bray can’t stand, it’s off-season. Unlike most of us who breathe a sigh of relief and plan to relax a bit when the season’s tourists go home, Bray is plotting how to eradicate off-seasons [in his] role of conference sales manager for the Snowmass Resort Association [and] a focal point in the final planning and operation of the soon-to-be-built Snowmass Conference Center. Estimated cost for the project is $6 million [and plans call for] aggressive conference booking on a year-round basis.

A new concept in local theater was getting started in Aspen.

The Theater Under the Jerome bills itself as Aspen’s first ensemble acting company … a group of actors and technicians who work together intimately during many productions. Kent Reed, 39, the company’s founder and director, has been involved in local theater since 1975 [but] spent the last three years as an actor in New York … More concerned with theater as art than entertainment, the company’s … productions are designed to give experience and exposure to its members as well as enhancing the community’s appreciation of theater through its presentation of challenging classic and contemporary plays.

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