25-50-100 Years Ago
The elections were the big news of the day in 1908, just as they were are today. The editor of The Aspen Democrat spent the week surrounding election day either boosting his favorite candidates, Democrats all, crowing about the victories of the Democrats and scoffing at the wins of Republicans, or marveling at the mechanics of the process, in particular the expected high turnout at the polls.
The indications are that Denver will cast the largest vote in its history tomorrow, [with a total of] 75,283 registered voters [and projections that there will be] 67,775 actual votes to be cast [a turnout of roughly 90 percent]. That it will be a physical impossibility to register that number of ballots in the time allotted is a certainty, because there are only 146 polling places [citywide] to handle the voters.
Among the efforts at getting the news of national and regional election results to the people of Aspen, was a special installation at a local fraternal organization.
At the Elks Club a special wire had been installed which was handled by Mr. Lewis of the depot and the news was received right off the reel with very little delay … bulletins were flying hither and thither with lightning rapidity. During the evening the antlered gentlemen served a delightful lunch which was quite a help in breaking the monotony of the wait between bulletins.
Two days after the election, in the wake of a general rout of the Republicans who had held control of Pitkin County, the paper reported the concession of the election by the county Republican Party Chairman, George E. Rohrbough.
[Rohrbough] last evening conceded the election of the Democratic candidates and stated that he was perfectly satisfied with trusting the affairs of the county in the hands of the newly elected officials.
But even as politics consumed vast portions of the newspaper’s work, Editor Charles “Cap” Dailey also kept his readers informed of the routine developments of the day, such as the growing acceptance of the need to support The Good Roads League as a way to fix up the county’s roads and bridges.
The Good Roads League, which was organized here some time ago, can now boast of being on a good financial standing and the funds are increasing every day. When the League was first organized [earlier in the year] a great many ridiculed the idea, but now the farmers are interested and willing to do their part and make improvements in the roads in their parts of the county.
The Aspen Democrat also continued to delight in the feuds between certain of the region’s powerful citizens and The Aspen Times, which was now under the management of politician and mining entrepreneur B. Clark Wheeler. The Democrat published in full a letter from Redstone coal mining magnate J.C. Osgood, owner of the mines at Redstone, to Wheeler, accusing the Times of scurrilous journalistic practices.
The defamations and lies about Redstone and Coal Basin, and the citizens of those two villages contained in your issue of last Thursday passed the limits of the usual coarse and scurrilous matter which you seem to think constitutes journalism. Your statement that “the bohunks of Redstone have cost the people of Pitkin County $10,000 in criminal prosecutions and fees for sheriff’s and coroner’s visits there … to investigate crimes” brands you as a willful and malicious falsifier and slanderer.
As Aspen continued to pin its hopes on the economic resurgence of the mining industry, news of injuries to miners was a matter for the front page.
While working in an old stope of the Aspen mine about 11 o’clock yesterday morning, Dave Jamieson, a miner, narrowly escaped instant death [when] a large amount of ground caved in upon him, completely covering him. The only thing that saved him was several sticks of timber that came down with the cave-in and released the weight of the rock and dirt from his body. [His brother] managed to get enough dirt off [him] to give him air and … after about three hours of hard work Jamieson was released and conveyed to his home on Cooper Avenue where he is receiving the best medical attention.
The paper also reported the sudden departure of two of its political and journalistic enemies.
Last evening B. Clark Wheeler, the first, and T.J. Murphy, the only, packed their little suitcases and boarded the outgoing Midland for the effete East.
(Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.)
Politics led the news in early November, and a Republican beating a long-time incumbent Democrat was a big deal.
In the biggest political upset in Pitkin County in some years, Republican Sam Howell defeated incumbant [sic] County Commissioner Clarence O. Quam in Tuesday’s general election. Seeking re-election to his fifth term, Quam received 322 votes to Howell’s 340.
Death announcements on the front page were a rarity, but exceptions were made in some cases.
Aspen’s oldest resident, Harry Brown, died here Tuesday … at the age of 90, after having lived here for 70 years. A mining engineer and long-time manager of the local Roaring Fork Electric utilities company, Brown came to Aspen at the age of 17 and lived here the rest of his life. He was the brother of D.R.C. Brown, one of Aspen’s original settlers, and owner of several mines.
Fishing had long been a favorite pastime of local sportsmen, in winter and summer, and the following announcement undoubtedly caught many eyes.
An Aspen angler caught so many fish during the season, which ends today, that it’s amazing that any trout were left for other fishermen. Generally staying within walking distance of downtown Aspen, Homer Jaycox [once a pressman for The Aspen Times] caught 1,259 fish, most of which he gave away.
Plans to bring television reception to the area got a little help from politicians.
Aspen’s nascent TV facilities received a boost this week when both the County Commissioners and the City Council pledged $1,000 each to the project. However, over $1,000 in contributions still are needed before the local converter-booster tower can be installed, Lawrence Elisha, chairman of the financial committee, announced.
As the fledgling Roaring Fork Transit Agency got going, a reporter profiled former bus driver Greg Fitzpatrick, the man picked to head the new system, and the mad scramble he faced to put it all together in a short time.
In fact, as Fitzpatrick points out, the RFTA doesn’t quite exist yet. The intergovernmental agreement between the city and county that will bring the agency into formal existence hasn’t been signed … “What’s scary,” [Fitzpatrick] said, is that we’ve got only four weeks to pull it all together before ski season [including] setting up schedules for the winter’s buses (“Just getting them printed usually takes six weeks,” he says) [and] getting his staff in order … whittling the staffs of two separate systems [the Aspen Skiing Company’s skier shuttles and the government-run buses] down to a single group.
Area bicycle racing enthusiasts and business boosters alike were enthusiastic about the possibility that a nationally recognized cycling event might be held on the streets of Aspen.
The 1984 Coors Classic Bicycle Stage Race, replete with 30 Olympic cycling teams, may well be on its way to Aspen. [Race and city officials met and] emerged from the meeting enthusiastic about the chances of staging a part of the race here. The 10-day event includes stages in various Colorado towns, including Denver, Boulder, Vail, Grand Junction and Estes Park [among others].
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