25-50-100 Years Ago
July 16, 2009
An electrical storm, proclaimed “the worst in the history of this locality” by The Aspen-Democrat Times, killed one person and wounded others in the Capitol Creek area 100 years ago. According to the July 14, 1909 news report:
Early last evening an electrical storm set in which surpassed in severity any before experienced in this locality and brought disaster to the household of Hon. Fred Light of Capitol Creek, one of the most prominent and highly respected families of Pitkin County.
After the evening meal, five of the Light children, Effie, aged 23, Edith 22, Ray 18, Helen 14 and Mildred 12, went to the cellar where they became engaged in packing meat for winter use. Mr. Light sat down to read and the other inmates of the house, Mrs. Fox, the children’s aunt, and the hired man and wife, retired for the night.
About 8:20, Mr. Light heard a crash and experienced a slight shock, and, thinking his home had been set on fire by lightning, went outside to investigate. As he went out the door, he was met by Mildred, who said: “Papa, they are all dead in the cellar!”
Mr. Light hastened to the basement and found his son dead and his daughters unconscious.
The telephone wires being burned out, Mildred started horseback for the ranch of William Finlay, half a mile distant, to summon medical assistance and help from the neighbors.
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An investigation showed that the bolt of lightning struck a potato cultivator 150 feet from the house, jumped to the gable of the roof of the house, scattering the shingles for a hundred feet, burning two places six inches in diameter about a foot apart, made a charred line down the side of the house, tore out weather boarding and two window frames, and broke the glass in another window, and the plaster in the walls of two rooms. One theory is that the lightning then took a downward course to the cellar, killing Ray and rendering the four girls unconscious.
The lightning struck the young man almost over the heart, burning a place six inches long by four wide, the entire left breast being discolored.
The recent Aspen Ideas Festival drew plenty of business leaders to town, but none of them had to lasso livestock during their visit, as far as we know. Fifty years ago business leaders on horseback made for Wild West entertainment. The Aspen Times reported:
One hundred of the nation’s business-world leaders, who switch to cowboy garb for one week each year and call themselves the Roundup Riders of the Rockies, are due in Aspen Friday noon, June 17. This is the end of their ride and they return to Glenwood Springs and Denver on Saturday, July 18.
They will be coming from their campgrounds near Maroon Lake down a new horse trail that has been cut by local labor and the Forestry Service. The trail is on the east side of Maroon Creek and ends near the T Lazy 7 Ranch.
The Riders, representing 20 states, will then parade through Aspen on their way to the rodeo grounds. There, the group will stage a free rodeo, sponsored by the Denver Post, which will start at 2 p.m.
Ashcroft, a mining camp at the turn of the last century, was apparently being eyed for renewed mining operations 50 years ago by the company best known locally for mining coal near Redstone. The Aspen Times reported:
Pitkin County Commissioner Sam Howell says that a request has been made by the Mid-Continent Coal and Coke Co. at Redstone to improve the county road along Castle Creek leading to Ashcroft.
This could substantiate rumors to the effect that Mid-Continent has an impending mining development in the Ashcroft area. It is thought that the firm wants to improve the Castle Creek Road so that ore could be hauled over it.
The county has furnished some culvert pipe and the County Surveyor, G.E. Buchanan, has been instructed to determine if widening and bridge reinforcement is needed.
The mining area is said to be on the face of a cliff above Ashcroft. Unconfirmed reports indicate that 100,000 tons of ore will be mined each summer.
Twenty-five years ago, McDonald’s debuted in Aspen amid controversy and fanfare. Today it’s one of very few restaurants that can claim that kind of tenure here. The Aspen Times reported:
That’s how many hamburger patties were in the freezer in the basement of McDonald’s at the start of this week, and that’s how many hamburgers the new store’s owner expects to have sold by the end of it.
If we could keep up the pace, that would come to about 1.5 million a year. Clearly, Aspen will henceforth contribute its fair share to those umpteen billion served.
Yes, Aspen is pulling its own social weight now. Used to be we operated under a double standard – no fast food restaurants in our town, we piously pronounced, even as we made the mad dash down to the Glenwood Mac’s. The price of that hypocrisy was that the cheap, fast food was neither cheap nor fast.
Now Aspen is like every other town. Now Aspen is part of America. Now Aspen has made its concession to middle-class pocketbooks, and now there’s a place you can actually get a $2 lunch.
More than two decades later, fractional-ownership projects would take Aspen by storm, but a quarter-century ago, timeshares were a fairly new development in the resort. The Aspen Times reported:
It took Aspen’s city council months to approve the city’s first timeshare application last May, but the second was accepted in less than 30 minutes during the regular meeting Monday.
However, while considering the first application, for the 19-room Prospector, the council also amended the 1982 timeshare control ordinances to better control applications and add a $5,000 a year license fee.
Approved Monday with little discussion was an application for the 12-unit Shadow Mountain Lodge (formerly Coachlight) at 232 West Hyman.