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

Chris Cassatt/Aspen Times fileAfter delays caused by heavy snows, rockslides and more snow, Independence Pass east of Aspen finally opened on the second weekend of June, noted the June 14, 1984 edition of The Aspen Times with this photo. "Now you can make all those urgent errands to Leadville in just an hour," the caption added.
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A century ago, The Aspen-Democrat Times featured an eclectic assortment of news on its front page. In one June 1909 issue, for example, one could find an item about three nuns injured in an automobile crash in Minneapolis and this report, from closer to home:

William Hurst, who was badly injured at his ranch on Brush Creek on Tuesday, is improving.

Mr. Hurst was getting out building stone and on prying a large block loose, the rock slid, knocking Mr. Hurst down, dislocating his left elbow, breaking the tips of both bones and quite badly lacerating his wrist.

His many friends will hope for his speedy recovery and that no permanent injury will result.

And, there was this bit of news, from police court:

In police court yesterday afternoon, Frank Walters was fined $3.00 and costs for driving across the new sidewalk recently put down by the Midland Railway company near the Union depot.

When the walk was first put down it was announced the city and railroad officials would prosecute anybody driving across the walk. A number of wagons and autos had been driven across the walk, but Frank was the unfortunate victim to be first seen and nabbed for doing so.

The Aspen Skiing Co. recently reported skier visits were off last winter by 7.6 percent. Fifty years ago, the Skico’s predecessor was also reporting that business was down. The Aspen Times reported:

Financial operations for the Aspen Skiing Corporation during the past winter were termed “reasonably successful” by the firm’s president, William V. Hodges Jr., in a letter to stockholders recently.

Gross revenue from winter lift operations were down $63,000 from the 1957-1958 skiing season. Hodges attributed the decrease in intake mainly to poor snow conditions this past November, December and January.

He also thought that some part of the reduction was due to the existence of the Aspen Highlands area, since this was the first time that the Skiing Corporation had had competition here.

The Times also acknowledged a potential deterrent to tourism – fear of heights. In the June 18, 1959 edition, The Aspen Times reported:

According to an article in the Sunday, June 7 New York Times, acrophobia or a morbid fear of heights “apparently prevents at least five out of six motorists from ever visiting the Western Slope” – including Aspen …

Called “Colorado’s ‘Backbone’ Beckons Brave Drivers,” the feature gave Aspen quite a play. For one thing, it told the story of the terrified Texan in these words:

“Not long ago a sturdy Texan more than six feet high and almost half as wide walked into the Chamber of Commerce office at Aspen, on the Western Slope, in a deeply distraught condition. ‘Looky here,’ he told the secretary, ‘you-all got to show me a trail home without driving my Cad over Independence Pass. I’d rather die than climb up that thing again’.”

An evacuation at the base of Aspen Mountain and the stability of the slopes was front-page news for a second straight week, a quarter-century ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Although experts agree this week that there is only an extremely slim possibility of Aspen’s burial under a layer of muddy debris, visiting geologists credited city officials with doing the right thing in dealing with a potential disaster of major proportions.

And although the business and safety outlook is brighter beneath Aspen Mountain this week, geologists are worrying that the mudslide season has apparently not ended.

Aspen geologist Nick Lampiris revealed that potentially dangerous fissures were discovered yesterday near No Name Tunnel outside of Glenwood Springs, and said experts are beginning a mudslide vigil there.

-compiled by Janet Urquhart


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