25-50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 Years Ago

Chris Cassatt/Aspen Times fileStacks of cinderblock are dropped into the Roaring Fork River in an attempt to stabilize the riverbank near the Aspen Art Museum in June 1984.

Gold in them thar hills? That, at least, was the hope a century ago, when the alleged vein near the Punch Bowl (a feature on Independence Pass that still draws visitors, but not prospectors) was front-page news. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

Yesterday morning Phil Wurtz, William Lincoln and a graduate of the State School of Mines (who does not wish his name mentioned as he is here investigating) visited the Wurtz and Monoghan claims near the Devil’s Punch Bowl on the Roaring Fork. A strong 4-foot vein has been uncovered of the best looking gold-bearing rock seen outside the Difficult district and much resembles the vein and vein matter from that locality. A large number of tests are being made from the properties of Messrs. Wurtz and Monoghan.

Mr. Perry and Mr. Bonham, of Grand Junction, went up the Roaring Fork this morning to inspect the gold claims, especially those in the vicinity of the Punch Bowl. In this connection it is well to say the mill and smelter men of Grand Junction have been anxious for several years to handle Aspen ores, especially those carrying gold values.

Arthur Beck of Aspen was looking up the gold situation yesterday.

The Tourtelotte Park road is now in good shape and ore shipments are being made from the Good Thunder, Libby Belle and Mayflower mines. While coming down the hill yesterday with a six-ton load of Good Thunder ore, Dick Pearce’s wagon broke down. A new wagon was procured and ore shipments resumed.

Oil shale extraction in western Colorado is once again on the front burner. Fifty years ago, a model “Oil Shale City” was on display at the Aspen Design Conference. The Aspen Times reported:

The scale model of the proposed Oil Shale City now being shown at the Meadows as a feature of the Design Conference, will be moved to the Hotel Jerome on Friday, June 26 for a special lecture-showing. At 5 p.m., local architect Sam Caudill will lecture about the model.

Officials from the Grand Valley Chamber of Commerce as well as officials from other Western Slope chambers have been invited by the Aspen C of C to attend Friday’s exhibit.

In addition, local chamber officials announced that they have invited Governor Steve McNichols and ex-governor Ed Johnson to their display.

The model was constructed by students at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. The completed plan has been designed to house 350,000 workers in the oil shale industry when it reaches full growth.

As such, it will be the second largest city in Colorado.

The possibility of economically extracting oil from shale is now being looked into by several firms. A nuclear blast has also been considered as a means of providing more information on the oil in the shale deposits.

Aspen ski bums weren’t done skiing – or drinking – in June 1959, as the Aspen Times noted:

Aspen’s oldest and proudest fraternity, The Aspen Old Order of Ski Bums, usually noted for a certain lack of enterprise, ended its normal summer turpor this week to organize a special June Beer Slalom race.

The new skiing feature, which local SBs hope to make an annual affair, will be held this Sunday, June 28, on the snow slopes above Independence Pass.

Time for the skiing part of the day’s activities has been set for 11 a.m. by race organizers. However, they stated that the beer drinking events will start earlier and finish later.

Big snows in the winter of 1983-’84 generated weeks of news about mudslides and flooding 25 years ago. The Roaring Fork River was raging, The Aspen Times reported:

The Roaring Fork River is filled to the banks and rushing through town.

The Aspen Art Museum has lost 10 to 15 feet of its lawn; it has lost its riverbank and about 20 trees to the Roaring Fork River.

The residents of Oklahoma Flats are angry about the deluge of water rushing past them and over their property.

It is definitely a high-water year, but the problems seem to be as much man-made as they are natural.

The problems seem to be a case of the deads of the past coming back to haunt us.

The real problem appears to be that the course of the Roaring Fork River was changed during the 1960s.

The river used to fork in two places, creating two islands.

The first was below the present Eagles Club.

The second island was in the present Rio Grande property.

Therefore in earlier years, when there was high runoff in the spring, the river had two channels to flow through.

– compiled by Janet Urquhart

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