25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 Years Ago

Courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyThe fabled Aspen Mine, on the front of Aspen Mountain, loomed over the city that grew out of the rough mining camp of the 1880s and early 1890s, until the bottom fell out of the silver market in 1893. Local entrepreneurs, such as Cap Dailey, editor of the Aspen Democrat, continued to champion the cause of mining well into the 1900s, always hoping for a big strike and a return to Aspens days as a boom town.

Although he did not name them, Editor Cap Dailey decided that all that ails this district … is the inertia of certain interests that will not do anything to exploit the regions mineral wealth.Apparently certain interests have made it a point to secure all the best properties possible and then put on them a dead-lock … these interests have the strong grip on every known mining district in this section of the country [and] but for this grip, Difficult would be one of the best gold camps in the state and the great iron, silver, copper and told deposits between Conundrum gulch and the Montezuma mine would be yielding more than its quota … and the population of Aspen would be four times what it is today. If a few men of means would get together and equip a diamond drill outfit [for use in local prospecting efforts] there is no question but they would make all kinds of money for themselves and … for them who devote their lives to pioneer work.The editor also did not shirk from criticizing local farmers for their complaints about the state of the county roads around Aspen.Road Overseer McDonald was requested by the commissioners to rake the loose rock of the roads as the farmers were setting up a howl about them. If the farmers paid 11 cents on the dollar in taxes maybe they would get busy and fix the roads themselves and not howl so much. Quit your kicking, fellers; we city people pay the taxes and you fellers get the roads going and coming, and you get the benefit of both in the assessment and in the taxes. Here in the city we pay $182 on a $3,500 plant, while some of you farmers pay $100 on a $10,000 ranch. Hush, by Heck!The barons of the railroad companies, anxious about the theft of coal from their stockpiles in Aspen, sent investigators to snoop out the perpetrators and bring them to justice, leaving one to wonder how much the enforcement action cost the rail barons.The other day a Pinkerton detective dropped into town; he came unheralded and unannounced … to discover toward the sound … and soon he saw a little old woman depositing chunks of coal in a gunnysack. [After arresting her] the little old woman kept still, and in a very few seconds along came a big man with a gunnysack filled with choice pieces of nice black coal [who also was arrested and jailed with the old woman]. After court had convened … Judge Porter fined the woman $6 and costs, and the man $7 and costs.A central form of entertainment in Aspen in those days was the new medium of movies, and it was front page news when technological improvement came to the Wheeler Opera House.A brand new picture machine arrived yesterday for the picture show and will be installed today and will be used for the first time tonight. The machine is the very latest model of the Powers Camerograph … With this wonderful machine, the objectionable flicker is removed and patrons … are now assured of having the steadiest pictures obtainable.Aspens city council business in the early 1900s was a far cry from what the current council deals with. Some excerpts:The bid of W.C. Tagert to furnish the city coal in car load lot[s] at $6.00 per ton was read and accepted. City Clerks report for weeks ending Nov. 11: Total appropriation, $17,316.00; Warrants drawn, $9,022.56 … Alderman Stitzer reported he could not get anybody to collect the poll tax … The sidewalks in front of lots O, P, Q, and R, block 35, and lots A and B, block 81, were reported in bad condition. The street commissioner was instructed to serve notice on owners of said lots to repair same as required by law … attention was called to a large pile of ashes in rear of Bailey block … The marshal said he had served notice on all persons owning corrals which had been declared nuisances.The paper lamented the continuing decline in the value of silver, noting that the prosperity of Aspen depends upon silver.At the present time the price of silver is lower than at any time in the last six years. This district weathered the storm in the fall of 1902, although somewhat battered, and as the price of silver advanced our people took new heart … The conditions in Aspen are, if anything, a little better and the outlook more encouraging … notwithstanding the shutting down of the Newman [mine and mill above Castle Creek] and the panic of a year ago … Our old standby mines are showing better than for years, leases are looking well and extensive development is being pushed on a number of outlying properties. With a substantial raise in the price of silver early in the new year Aspen will enjoy a measure of prosperity not experienced in years.(Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Societys archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.)

The local school board was preparing to ask voters for bonding authority to build a new school on the publicly owned half of block 57 bordered by East Hallam, East Bleeker, North Center [now North Garmisch] and North First. At the same time, the school board was hoping to obtain the other half of the block, which was deemed necessary for the new facility.Originally believing that they would have to resort to a condemnation to acquire the land … the board recently discovered that the two owners [a Denver matron and a Milwaukee, Wis., banker] would be amenable to selling if satisfactory terms can be worked out.Aspen area observers continued to fret about the proposed Fryingpan-Arkansas water diversion project, which had been turned down three times by the U.S. Congress but was about to make a new appearance.After years of continual opposition from Aspen area residents the site [of a proposed reservoir east of Aspen on the Roaring Fork River] was dropped. Engineers have since combed this area looking for a new location for a 28,000 acre-foot reservoir. Possible alternatives are one on Homestake Creek downstream from Pando, where Camp Hale was located, and another just above the confluence of the Eagle River and Homestake Creek.By way of comparison with prices 50 years earlier, a local merchant won a coal-delivery contract for heating the buildings owned by the local school district.The Aspen School District recently awarded the coal bid for the 1958-59 school year to P.B. Hemann of Aspen … at $12 per ton.

In late November it was announced that the Aspen Skiing Company was being sold.The ownership of the Aspen Skiing company has changed once again. Urban Investment and Development Co., a subsidiary of Aetna Life & Casualty, sold its 50 percent interest in the company to Miller-Klutznick-Davis-Gray Co. of Denver. That gives Miller et. al. a 100 percent interest in the skiing company [along with] Urbans 50 percent interests in Pebble Beach Company, the Twentieth Century-Fox 63-acre studio lot in Hollywood [and property in Denver and New Orleans, for a price of] $171 million.Given its notorious reputation as a party town with next to no limits, it was seen as remarkable by some that there was no drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic nearby. All that was about to change, though.The plan to establish a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in a house at the base of Tiehack [Buttermilk Mountain Ski Area] was approved by the county planning and zoning commission this week. The center, to be operated by St. Lukes Hospital of Denver, will provide two- or three-week sessions of counseling and therapy for people trying to break away from an alcohol or drug habit.Leave it to the Pitkin County Sheriffs Office to celebrate the opening of a new jail facility with a massive party to which the entire community is invited.Drinking and dancing and a song contest are all part of the festivities planned for the Jailhouse Rock party marking the opening of the new Pitkin County Jail … Proceeds from the cash bar and ticket sales to the dance are to be used for the purchase of cultural and art items for the benefit of the prisoners housed in the jail. Jailers are hoping to raise enough cash to buy a piano, a guitar, musical and educational tapes, books, clay, paints, board games, craft supplies and tape players. compiled by John Colson

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