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

Courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyThe old Blue Spruce Lodge near the base of Aspen Mountain was one of many properties being amassed by land speculator Hans Cantrup, in what was known at the time as the Cantrup Empire. Cantrup planned to build the biggest hotel Aspen had ever seen, although in 1984 some doubted his plans were realistic and the City Council seemed disinclined to grant Cantrup the special allowances he wanted.
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Always a booster of ways to diversify the regional economy, The Aspen Democrat began a continuing effort to use its front page to lobby in favor of using Colorado-Yule marble, quarried at the town of Marble in the Crystal River Valley, to build a new post office in Denver. Quoting a letter from Col. F. Meek, president of Colorado-Yule, the paper declared:

If the Denver federal building is made of Colorado marble it will last forever. In all the old buildings of Europe you will find that Marble stands the years better than any other stone.

The front page of the Democrat was the venue for a wide range of regional news, as well as local information, such as a news item about the sad fate of a prospector in the Princeton mining district near Buena Vista.



William B. McClure, 80 years old, a pioneer prospector and typical mountain hermit, was found starved to death in his cabin … six miles west of Buena Vista. He had been dead probably ten days. His body was frozen. Every scrap of food in the cabin had been eaten … before he lay down to die. The storms of the last few weeks have been so severe and the snow has been so deep that the aged miner did not dare to attempt to come to Buena Vista for food and he had no way of getting word to the outside world. The snow around his cabin is ten feet deep.

And another item, datelined Como, Colo., dealt with stranded trains at the northern end of South Park by the preternaturally deep snows.




Two freight trains, one passenger train with thirty-five passengers slowly starving to death on it, are stalled about four miles out of here, tells in a few words the story of the blizzard of the last two days [which has] left drifts along the railroad tracks many feet deep. The big rotary snowplow in the roundhouse here is snowed in … there are six engines attached to the three trains stalled, and all of them are dead. The passenger train … left Denver with no provisions on it striking the blizzard before they knew where they were.

Locally, the storms had left such a deep load of snow on the ground as to interfere with efforts to get provisions to outlying camps.

Irving Hiatt of the Tagert barns took two saddle horses to Ashcroft yesterday, one served as a pack animal. It was impossible to get through with a sled and it was hard to make the trip horseback.

As was common in mining camps throughout the west, Aspen had developed a rather boisterous sex trade, with prostitutes’ “cribs” on the east side of town along the base of Aspen Mountain. The paper chronicled the arrest of one of the purveyors of that trade.

About 9 o’clock Sunday morning the police raided the home of Virginia Young on Durant Street and arrested Henry Rhinehart, who has the reputation of being Virginia’s “mac” [pimp] and a member of the “Mysterious Six.” The “mac” was compelled to arise, don his clothing and accompany the officers to the city jail. Yesterday afternoon Rhinehart was arraigned in police court charged with vagrancy and leading a vicious and immoral life … a fine of $50 and costs was imposed. Not being in funds Rhinehart was committed to the city jail. The officers are to be congratulated on their efforts to break up the gang of vampires who are living off the women of the half world.

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

A deadly avalanche was reported on Aspen Mountain.

The urge to taste the thrill of a few turns in virgin powder resulted in the death of a young ski racer here … when he was caught and buried in an avalanche. Skiing with three friends on the upper slopes of Walsh’s Gulch, Gary McGivern turned back when they decided that it was too dangerous to continue, then changed his mind and pushed off down the slope by himself. They found him … head down in about 8 feet of snow.

As the controversy continued regarding plans to consolidate the schools of Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs into one “Roaring Fork Valley School District No. 1,” two groups began agitating to have the matter put to a popular vote rather than be left up to specially appointed committees working with the boards of county commissioners.

The … groups asking for the special vote … were the Directors of the Aspen Chamber of Commerce … the School Board of District No. 1 [and] the Aspen Citizen’s Council for Education [seeking] two questions on the plebiscite ballot: One, do you favor a reorganization plan including [the different towns in one district] or two, do you favor a plan which would allow the Aspen School District … to continue to exist by itself?

Three-time candidate for the presidency of the United States, Adlai Stevenson, came to Aspen to speak at the Aspen Institute, and granted an interview to The Aspen Times.

[Stevenson], one of this country’s most influential political leaders, advocated freer trade with Russia as an instrument of peace … not only because of the obvious economic advantages to this country to increase its volume of trade, but because “the sooner the Russian standard of living is improved, the more they are likely to become passive.”

A proposal to build Aspen’s biggest-ever hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain, made by local land speculator and developer Hans Cantrup, was running into trouble at City Hall.

Aspen’s city council issued a clear warning Monday that a proposed 480-room hotel on the Cantrup properties is too large [and that they did not favor] allowing the project to vary from underlying FAR (floor area ratio), height and parking requirements …

At the same time, one of the proposal’s most outspoken opponents questioned whether such a hotel would be economically viable.

Dick Butera, who has participated in major developments [around the country] and now owns the Aspen Club … called the project “unrealistic … not only would the project fail if it were built, but it probably never will be built (if approved) because no prudent lender will accept those numbers,” he told the council.

The nascent sport of snowboarding made its first ever appearance in Aspen, as two local teenagers turn a Christmas gift into a new business.

Quite by accident, two local boys have become the only area distributors of snowboards. Mark and Andy Collen, ages 15 and 17 respectively, were given snowboards for Christmas by their father … here it is not much more than a month later and the brothers flash business cards to prospects ” “the Snowboard Brothers of Aspen” ” and talk of inventory and ordering.

– compiled by John Colson


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