25-50-100 Years Ago
October 29, 2009
An early morning conflagration threatened Aspen a century ago. The entire city might have burned to the ground, but for the “gallant work” of the fire chief and his crew, according to The Aspen Democrat-Times headline. The newspaper reported:What threatened to be the most disastrous fire in the history of Aspen was only prevented by the wonderful work of Fire Chief Wack and his gallant fire boys. At 5:45 this morning, flames were discovered issuing from the restaurant of Thomas Pearce by John Wearmouth. Practically at the same moment, Mrs. Brown, of the Hotel Jerome, noticed the blaze near the opera house and turned in the alarm. Just as Wearmouth was about to send in the alarm, he heard the bell and soon the fire team was dashing down the street. In a very few seconds, Chief Wack had several lines of hose laid, and despite the fact that a high wind was raging at the time and very little pressure could be had, the fire was soon gotten under control. Not, however, until one side of the opera house had been badly burned and the building occupied by Eckberg & Waltzling had been completely gutted and lay in ruins. For a time, it looked as if every building between the opera house and the Jerome hotel was doomed, but fortunately, the wind calmed for almost thirty minutes and with a better water pressure and heroic fighting, the terrible fire fiend was defeated and the rest of the block was saved. High up into the heavens the flames shot, lighting up the surrounding mountains in beautiful but awful, lurid grandeur, while the hoarse cries of the firemen mingled with the subtle cracking of the flames made a picture never to be forgotten.
Fifty years ago, long before “politically correct” was coined as a term, plans for a show at Aspen High School were scuttled because the performance was feared un-PC. The Aspen Times reported: Objections to a proposed Minstrel Show to be produced by the Aspen School were voiced at the PTA meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 27. It was felt by some of the members that the satiric nature of such a show might be uncomfortable for members of the Negro race. For this reason, producing the show “would be impolite and undesirable.” Because of the objections, plans for the Minstrel Show were temporarily shelved. The matter will again be taken up at a later meeting. Then, as now, hunting season was under way, and local hunters were enjoying success. The Aspen Times reported:A six-point bull elk with an antler spread of 52 inches is believed to be the largest animal taken in this area during the current hunting season. Killed by Bud Strong, the elk dressed out at about 500 pounds. Strong was one of ten members of Jesse Maddalone’s hunting party, all of which bagged their limit during the first two days of the season. Hunting in the dry Woody Creek area where they still have a camp, the party shot five bulls and five cows. Maddalone got a four-point buck himself. Other hunters who have taken elk are all three Stapleton brothers, Walt Matthews and his visiting brother-in-law, Dick McCurden, Hoddy Nicholson, Clyde Vagneur, Johnny Thorpe, Dick Linkletter, and Rudy Pecjak. A party made up of Werner Kuster, Bob Smith and Bert Simons have also shot several elk. Kills throughout the state are reported to be considerably higher than in 1958. For the first five days of the current season, 1,678 elk were checked at five stations on the Western Slope.
Twenty-five years ago, it was feared a proposed dam on the Colorado River, west of South Canyon outside of Glenwood Springs, would leave rafters “up a creek,” according to The Aspen Times. The newspaper reported: They want to build a dam on the Colorado River. Not a big one, just about 25 feet high, but area whitewater outfitters say it will cut their business in half. They – a consortium of investors from Glenwood Springs and Wichita, Kan., going by the name of Enartech – defend their project as a small step toward developing clean, quiet renewable energy sources. It sounds like a family squabble – conservationist against conservationist. “I think the environmentalists will be torn,” admits Scott Fifer, Enartech project liaison officer, “because on the one hand, you’ve got the people saying, ‘All dams are bad,’ and on the other hand, you’ve got people who are saying, ‘Yeah, but look what it’s for.'” What it’s for is to produce four megawatts of power, although there is no definite buyer for the power yet. First there has to be a dam, and before there can be a dam, federal and local agencies must approve it.”Snow bombs” prompted a lawsuit that pitted neighbor against neighbor a quarter-century ago. The Aspen Times reported: Snow that reportedly slides off the roof of the Inverness Lodge on east Durant Street “sounds like bombs exploding” to the folks next door at the Pines Lodge, and they’re suing over it. Hayan Alzahid and the Pines have filed a $5,000 suit in Pitkin County Court against Cliff Llewellyn and the Inverness. He is seeking damages and a permanent injunction from future snowfalls, according to the court documents. The complaint says the Inverness Lodge installed a metal roof on their three-story building several years ago, and since then, there have been many snow slides comprised of several tons each.-compiled by Janet Urquhart