25-50-100 Years Ago
August 14, 2009
The weather was front-page news a century ago. On Aug. 9, 1909, The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:One of the worst rain storms in the history of Aspen set in yesterday afternoon, accompanied by crashing thunder and vivid lightning flashes. As the water continued to come down in sheets and the electrical display became fiercer, those who had relatives and friends in the hills or in the country picnicking or fishing, became exceedingly anxious as to their safety. Those who were abroad yesterday got caught – some without their coats.During the afternoon and evening those who had been out began to straggle into town, presenting a bedraggled appearance. It was late in the night before some of them reached home. Some of the fishermen who were afield as soon as they reached a ranch house where there was a phone called for conveyances to come out and bring them in.One fisherman on Castle Creek, carrying a steel rod, got quite a scare. As he was passing along the road, the lightning struck a pole near him, splintering it.Those with teams had great difficulty in reaching home owing to the roads being blocked with great boulders brought down by washouts – the auto parties didn’t get home at all but are expected in the course of a week.
These days, weekly rodeos take place in Carbondale and Snowmass Village during the summer months, but 50 years ago, an annual rodeo event in Aspen was a big deal, especially when local competitors fared well. The Aspen Times reported:Riders from the Roaring Fork Valley swept all places in one event and took first, second and third in three others at the annual Silver Stampede Rodeo this past weekend, according to results released by rodeo secretary John Hall. The majority of awards, however, based on average time for each of the eight events, went to cowboys from other areas.Local riders won all four places in the stake or barrel race. Wayne Vagneur of Woody Creek took first, the only woman competitor, Pat Vrany of Aspen, was second, Bob Perry of Carbondale was third, and fourth went to Carl Vetter, also of Carbondale.In the kid’s musical chairs, Aspenite Jean Hoffins won the event on both days. She found a tire to stand in each time the music stopped and then won the race of two-thirds the length of the arena and back over the other remaining contestants.Local businessmen were organizing a new bank in Aspen 50 years ago. The Times reported:A Notice of Intention to organize a new state bank in Aspen will be filed this week or next with the State Banking Commissioner, it was announced last week by a group of six men.The men, three full-time Aspen residents and three part-time Aspenites, revealed their intentions in an advertisement in The Aspen Times, which appeared last Thursday, but did not make a public statement until after a meeting Monday, Aug. 10.At that time, four of the group met to sign the Notice of Intention and to deposit checks for the purchase of stock in the proposed corporation. They also deposited checks to meet the initial expenses of the venture.Signing the notice at Monday’s meeting were Wilton Jaffee, New York and Aspen; Henry Stein, Aspen; David Meyer, Chicago and Aspen; and Arthur Pfister, Aspen. The two other members of the group, Alex Thomson, Denver and Aspen, and John Herron, Aspen, did not attend the meeting.
There was no federal Cash for Clunkers program 25 years ago, but there was an illegal car dump in Pitkin County where auto owners abandoned their junkers. The Aspen Times reported:An illegal car dump, which has been growing steadily over the last five years, has given Pitkin County officials a problem to wrestle with, but now the county says it is taking the upper hand.County Public Works Director Bud Eylar said this week he has begun the procedure for getting rid of the illegal dump, which is at an undisclosed location in rural Pitkin County, and promised that in two months the cars will be taken away and the dump made inoperable.The dump now contains four cars. The first car was left five years ago. The last one was junked only three weeks ago.Eylar said that either he or County Engineer Pat Dobie will get in touch with the Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land on which cars were dumped illegally, by Friday, Aug. 10, to find out if the bureau will take charge of hauling the cars away.Eylar said that if the BLM refuses to deal with the problem, the county will.Marathon government meetings are apparently nothing new. Former Aspen Times reporter (and later editor) Andy Stone sat through one 25 years ago. He reported:Apparently jealous of all the attention being given to the track and field events at the L.A. Olympics, the Pitkin County Planning & Zoning Commission staged its own marathon this week in the form of a Growth Management Plan approval and scoring session that started at 9 a.m. Tuesday and ended at the stroke of midnight.The point of the session was to evaluate three proposed residential development projects, which totaled more than 200 units and which were competing for a mere seven units available in this year’s development quota.As might be expected from this gross mismatch of units desired and units available, even the winners will probably turn out to be losers when the dust settles.- compiled by Janet Urquhart