25-50-100 Years Ago

Aspen Times fileWhen earthquakes struck the midvalley in 1984, many worried that Ruedi Dam might be at risk of failure. There was no visible damage then, however, and the dam still stands today.

Miners continued to hold out hope for the riches of Smuggler Mountain on the edge of Aspen 100 years ago. In an article headlined “Prospecting reveals fortune in Smuggler,” The Aspen Democrat cited “mining expert” Captain James T. Smith, reprinting Smith’s report from the Denver News. Smith put the estimate for ore in sight in Smuggler at $7,500,000, prompting encouraging words from the Democrat:

So don’t worry, old-timer, about the Smuggler shutting down. If Captain Smith’s statement is based on facts, and it undoubtedly is, it means that it will take 5,000 days to get out the 1,500,000 tons of ore now in sight if 200 tons are gotten out each day. And 5,000 days means nearly fourteen years that the old Smuggler will be doing business on what it has in sight at this moment.

The next time anyone sings you a hard luck story and tells you a tale of woe about the Smuggler shutting down, give him the marble eye and pass onward with that booster smile and push Aspen expression.

Smile and push.

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

Construction of two new chairlifts on Aspen Mountain was slated to begin in the spring of 1959. The Aspen Times reported:

Work will begin on Aspen Mountain on the area’s two newest chairlifts as soon as the snow leaves, it was announced this week by officials of the Aspen Skiing Corporation.

Tentatively announced new lifts, one on the FIS slope and one paralleling Number 2, have been contracted and should be in operation by next ski season, the corporation added.

The two double chairlifts will be designed and engineered by the Riblet Tramway Co. of Spokane, Washington and will be erected by the Ski Corp. crew under the direction of Red Rowland.

The Riblet company also designed the Little Nell Lift on Aspen Mountain and the two chairlifts at Aspen Highlands.

Tremors in the midvalley made news 25 years ago, given that a dam was holding back the waters of the Fryingpan River at Ruedi Reservoir, as it still does today. The Aspen Times reported:

Despite the recent flurry of earthquakes in the Carbondale area, Bureau of Reclamation officials are not worried that Ruedi Dam has been or will be effected if the quakes remain small.

Anytime an earthquake is reported within 15 miles of the dam, someone from the bureau, usually Reservoir Supervisor Clifford Held, visits the dam and runs a standard check.

Says Held, “There has been no visible damage,” and adds that any possible internal damage should show up somewhere in the outlet works tunnel that houses the outlet pipe or elsewhere in the instrumental readings.

“I live on the Frying Pan River and I’m not worried. I feel safe with it,” says Held.

According to George Stapleton, public affairs officer for the bureau, the dam could take a Richter-scale earthquake of 6.0.

The worst quake reported in the area occurred in 1880, says Willis Jacobs, a geophysicist with the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden. The quake was registered as being an “intensity 6,” which Jacobs very roughly equated to a 5.0 on the Richter scale.

That quake was felt by all and moved some heavy furniture, according to the records.

“compiled by Janet Urquhart