25-50-100 years ago
Copies of The Aspen Times from October 1903 until 1911 are missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. To continue our journalistic history of Aspen, we include excerpts from The Aspen Democrat, the Times’ competitor 100 years ago.Ah, spring arrived at last in the old mining camp, and Aspenites with camp fever got out of town!Now that Sunday morning excursions to Glenwood are in order and the weather is growing warmer, Aspen, as usual has commenced sending her crowds to the hot water town [see photos]. Those to enjoy the trip to Glenwood Sunday were Mr. and Mrs. Eddy, Mrs. Kuntz and family, Andy Hogan, Ed Cooper, Jim Warner, the Misses Fullington and Oxholm, James Hetherly, Victor Lagessi, the Misses Lulu and Cassie Warner, Maholm Warner and B. Silver.
Those left behind in Aspen provided their own entertainment. The paper reported,Considerable excitement was stirred up Sunday afternoon when two well-known gentlemen made a gun play on South Mill street. No damage was received by either party and the whole thing ended in hot air but no powder was burned. For this, all should be thankful as the city of Aspen can get along very well without any killings.Spring fever seemed to have taken hold in the Fryingpan Valley as well. Sheriff Grant was called to Thomasville Sunday to take charge of Chas Robb who had suddenly become violently crazy and had threatened to kill a number of men with a large butcher knife, which he had in his possession. He was brought to town and lodged in the county jail overnight and was quite rational yesterday morning. He was released, but will remain in town for several days to fully recover from the attack.Spring had become more than a fever and was epidemic as the paper reported,
Some mischievous boys were out for a good time last evening and their fun ended up causing a great deal of excitement and annoyance to the residents residing near the mill and all over the mesa, as the constant loud blowing of the sawmill whistle was the sign of a fire, and people from all directions rushed to the scene of the supposed trouble to aid if any help was needed. The joke was on the people as the boys had tied the whistle cord down and then run. Fortunately no damage was suffered but the boys would be wiser if they found some other means of amusement.After all the weekend excitement, this newspaper editor puffed himself up and dispatched a scolding.In this day and age it seems that those practicing mean little tricks should attempt to lead a better life and get out of the channel of meanness. But there are always some people who forget themselves and do things which places others in a peculiar and unpleasant place. Such was the case Sunday when a beautiful full-blown rose was stolen from the borrowed plants used in the decorations of the Presbyterian Church. Although the theft did not mean much in a financial way, it did mean a great deal to the ladies who had borrowed the plants and were forced to return them in a damaged condition. Let the person who did the unkindly act learn a lesson of respect for others feelings on a future similar occasion.
The citizens of Pitkin County own a lush wetlands and wildlife preserve known as North Star. Fifty years ago it was a thriving ranch. The paper reported,John L. Healy has announced that he has sold his ranch on the Roaring Fork, located about two miles above Aspen, to Mr. James Hopkins Smith, who owns the property adjoining. The Healy ranch contains about 37 and a half acres and has been owned by the Healy family since 1893 when it was purchased by Mr. Healy’s father, Michael James Healy. Water rights for this property were adjudicated in 1895 and is one of the oldest on record.Rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t only on the radio in 1955. The paper noted,Aspen residents were shaken about 7:20 Tuesday morning [May 10] when a small earthquake rocked the area. This quake, according to geologists, is caused by a slipping in the Castle Creek fault, and was quite common in the 30’s when many such tremors reminded Aspenites that the earth’s crust was still moving around as stresses and strains were redistributed.Red Mountain residents reported a very good shaking while others scarcely noticed it at all, especially those who were not out of bed yet.
Three prominent Aspen citizens traveled to Washington, D.C., and hoped to testify before Congress against one of the largest water diversions ever proposed in Colorado (see photos). County Commissioner Orest A. Gerbaz, County Clerk and Recorder William Stapleton, and Attorney Clinton Stewart left on Monday for Denver where they took airlne space for Washington, D.C., to attend the hearing of the controversial Frying Pan-Arkansas transmountain diversion highjacking before the House subcommittee on Irrigation. The east slope delegation really is putting on all the steam possible to see that this time the legislation goes through to divert 69,000 acre feet at a fantastic cost per acre foot. It is estimated that the irrigation feature alone is to cost $78,000,000 to be repaid over 69 years without interest. The project is to irrigate 921 farms in the Arkansas Valley at a cost of $84,000 per farm or $650 per acre.$43,000,000 is to build seven small power plants in the Arkansas River valley, at a cost of over $400 per kilowatt unit. Steam plants can be built for under $200 per kilowatt unit. …The bill authorizing the Frying Pan-Arkansas Transmountain diversion was sponsored by Senators Allott and Milliken in the Senate and the bill went through the Senate with colors flying. … all three of the congressman from the east slope favor this diversion. We wish we could add that Congressman Wayne N. Aspinall, representing the Fourth District, the place where this water is going to be diverted from, is against the bill, but he isn’t. Aspinall is willing for his three colleagues on the east slope to take this water to the ultimate detriment of his own district. If you can follow his thinking, dear reader, you evidently have more brains than we have.
After six months of work, a housing task force defined the need for 250 employee units 25 years ago, but defined no solution. Though unable to decide on a definitive solution, the task force was in agreement on the scope of the problem. Task force chairman Rick Ferrell noted that the report estimated that 250 employee housing units are needed to meet present needs, and that another 48 will be needed each of the next five years.”One of the biggest things we are flagging is the failure of government to look at the magnitude of the problems, that is to deal with more than 30- to 50-unit projects,” Ferrell said. … “The plan could lead to bigger government if you follow all the recommendations,” he said. … Two county commissioners present at the review of the report expressed impatience at the present situation and a willingness to act decisively.Joe Edwards, one of the three commissioners and the only one not seeking re-election, said, “Maybe we ought to fish or cut bait. If it’s not a priority, maybe we ought to stop talking about it.”
Edwards noted that the city and the county have been discussing the problem for three years without taking effective action and said, “If the community wanted to commit itself and its assets, the problem could be solved.”One attempt to alleviate the housing problem was on the county table. The paper reported,”What have they done to my proposal?” was Pitkin County Planning & Zoning Commission member Dan Levinson’s plaintive reaction yesterday to an altered proposal to allow caretaker units to be built as employee housing.Such units, Levinson said, ought to be limited to 550 square feet.Commissioners discussed and discussed the idea, amended it drastically, then sent it back to PZ for comment.By that time, Levinson’s 550 square feet had become 800 square feet. Worse, two bedrooms would be allowed under the latest amendments. …The rent that could be charged for a caretaker unit would be $274 a month under current low-income guidelines.
The sheriff’s department was in the news again – but not good news, this time around. Sheriff Dick Kienast basked briefly in the sunshine of national empathy for his law-enforcement philosophy last week after an appearance on TV’s 60 Minutes.But this week, new clouds scudded over his administration.Consultants hired by county commissioners to study the sheriff’s department concluded it could get by with six fewer employees, and “lacks a sense of direction and purpose.” …The study recommends that there be four fewer deputies, one less secretary, no jail administrator, and no full-time civil process server.It also recommends that the sheriff’s department be combined with the city police department.When the current term of the sheriff expires, the report suggests, the office should be changed by charter amendment from an elective to an appointed one.
Consultants found that “the emphasis on a commendable concern for human relations and community service has somewhat overshadowed the attention given to basic, police-oriented functions that are needed, such as the investigation of crimes and the identification and arrest of offenders.” …The study, in a classic understatement, said the district attorney’s office “has not established warm working relations with the law enforcement agencies,” and noted “communication is sporadic.”
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Citing the fire threat, the U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday closed about 1,555 square miles of forest land in five counties near Colorado’s heavily populated Front Range — an area bigger than the state of Rhode Island.