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

Herbert Bayer/Courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyThis is how Shadow Mountain, known as West Aspen Mountain at one time, looked in the 1950s, perhaps about the time that longtime local Hans Gramiger started getting ideas about building a restaurant on the rocky ridge overlooking Aspen.
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In the wake of a highly successful, locally produced minstrel show at the Wheeler Opera House, involving the men of the community, a group of women decided they should try the same gambit to raise money for a hospital clinic on the city’s fair grounds near Hallam Lake.

At each of Aspen’s fairs some one has been injured and Mrs. Stanley F. Watt was right on the spot with all the aid known to medical science, the result being that the patients were soon able to be out. Mrs. Watt now wants to erect a hospital building on the fair grounds … To do it Mrs. Watt has asked the ladies to help by giving a lady minstrels show … The hospital building will be built and the lady minstrels will be the best show ever seen at the Wheeler.

Indian scares were still a fact of life in the early 1900s in the West, and Aspen Democrat Editor Charles “Cap” Dailey kept his readers up to date on such matters, including a dramatic search for a Creek leader named Crazy Snake and his band.

The report that Crazy Snake had been captured or had surrendered is not confirmed. Colonel Hoffman telephoned from Pierce [Oklahoma] today that the rumor was groundless … Deputy sheriffs traveling in posses and the militia under Colonel Hoffman today resumed the search, [spending] the night in their blankets in the open four miles from Stidham.

Practical jokes on April Fool’s Day also occupied some of the editor’s attention.

Don’t pick up anything today that you see lying on the sidewalk. Whatever it may be, there is a small boy and a string attached to it, or it is nailed down.

Keeping up the drumbeat of encouragement for local residents to support local businesses, the editor published a list of mail-order houses and demanded to know if readers were sending money orders to them rather than patronizing local firms.

If you are will you please write … to The Democrat and tell just how much benefit Aspen, your home town, derives form any of [the mail-order businesses]. Tell how much taxes they pay … how much charity they do … how many poor people they are trusting that they may eat and have clothing to wear.

Acting from a similar motive to the “shop local” campaign, the editor continued to urge local officials to do more to attract tourists to the town as a way of boosting the local economy.

We certainly have been blessed by old Mother Nature in giving us all the attractions desired by the pleasure seeker who wishes to spend his summer in the mountains. We have the trout. We have the game. We have the scenery. We have the mountains. We have camping grounds …

Also in the interests of boosting the local economy, the editor suggested that locals should form a cooperative mining enterprise, to go after silver and other ore bodies that were believed to still lie in the hills around the town, as had been tried in neighboring communities.

Now that spring is here and the snow will soon be gone from the hills, The Democrat would suggest that steps be taken for the organization of a Home Mining Company to work along lines similar to those of a Home Mining Company in Leadville … Such a company could … induce the investment of outside capital [in the local mining industry]. There are a number of leasing propositions on Aspen and Smuggler mountains that cannot be handled by individuals but which, without doubt, would yield fair returns to a company with sufficient capital.

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

The much debated plan to reorganize the Roaring Fork Valley’s schools into one über-district comprising Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, which was being heavily criticized by Aspen taxpayers and groups, was put to rest in the wake of a straw poll in Aspen that showed it had little support. The decision meant the Aspen School District could get on with other projects.

Since the plan was dumped by the Pitkin County Reorganization Committee last week and no new proposal involving Aspen has come up, the Aspen School Board resolved last night to “proceed with plans” for the new elementary school … [a] one-story, 16-room building … on the old Lincoln School site [on Bleeker between North First and North Center (now Garmisch) streets, now called the Yellow Brick School building].

The Aspen Skiing Corp. also was moving ahead, with plans for improvements to the ski lifts on Aspen Mountain.

Aspen Mountain will be richer by one new lift and one replacement lift next winter … Presently designated as Lift No. 6, the new lift will start from the dam in Spar Gulch and run up to Midway. A high-speed double chair type, this lift will require 5 minutes for the ascent. The second proposed lift will replace the present No. 2 Sundeck lift. It will follow the same line, but will be brought down closer to the ground at the point where it crosses Tourtelotte Park.

An Easter service atop Aspen Mountain was a growing tradition.

Over 500 people attended the eighth annual Easter Sunrise services on top of Aspen Mountain … which began at approximately 6:05 a.m. on the flat slope near the Sundeck … conducted by Reverend Doyle K. Hauschulz of the Aspen Community Church.

The Colorado Department of Highways, after months of indecision, finally picked a site for replacement of the aging Castle Creek Bridge on Highway 82 into Aspen.

Aspen’s new Castle Creek Bridge … will be rebuilt on its present site, county officials were informed last week … the decision was based on cost estimates. Some local residents had requested that the new bridge be built south of the present location to feed directly into the west end of Main Street, thus eliminating two right-angle turns on State Highway 82 … Engineer Charles Shumate said that the difference in cost would be approximately $230,000.

Pitkin County was in a financial crisis, requiring officials to either cut services or raise taxes, according to a study by the Financial Advisory Board.

The FAB report indicates that if the county tries to continue its present level of services, it will be facing deficits of more than $750,000 a year on a yearly budget of roughly $9 million, starting in 1985.

Longtime Aspenite Hans Gramiger told The Aspen Times that, despite Pitkin County’s efforts to prevent Gramiger from building a restaurant atop Shadow Mountain, he would prevail.

Gramiger and the county have battled in the courts for 11 years, with most of the recent decisions going in Gramiger’s favor. Most recently, the state court of appeals ordered the county to issue Gramiger an excavation and grading permit, a decision which the county has decided to appeal to the supreme court. The excavation alone, [Gramiger said] would take at least two full summer construction seasons and possibly a third [followed by construction of a] cable-car terminal [and] the building itself.

An out-of-court settlement ended a controversial lawsuit over ownership of the Basalt South subdivision project.

Basalt realtor John Wix had sued to get out of the venture after it was learned that two Louisiana men had financed their investment in the project with drug profits. [Wix’s partner] Aspen attorney David Slemon said he would buy the 10 percent interest owned by Wix, giving [Slemon] an 80 percent interest in the already approved 402-unit housing project.

” compiled by John Colson


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