25-50-100 years ago…
December 17, 2009
“A bright spark of hope sheds its beams,” read a headline in The Aspen Democrat-Times a century ago. It was not a reference to Christmas, but rather to mining. The newspaper reported:
The people of our little burg feel that there is something to look forward to today. Yesterday, the price of silver advanced and a large number of men were put to work on the Smuggler, the eleventh level having been connected with No. 2 winze. Today the force of miners was greatly augmented and it is expected that fully 300 men will be at work on the large ore body in that property by the end of the week.
It is the intention to increase the force of workmen as fast as room can be made for them, but this increase will necessarily be gradual at least for the next two months, as the electric pumps will not be heard until the latter part of January.
In the meantime, additional sinkers have been put in to handle the water thrown up to the ninth level by the air pump. The present plant will be worked to its capacity until arrangements are completed for the installation of the electric system.
Aspen’s fire chief won re-election easily in late 1909. The Aspen Democrat-Times approvingly reported:
The Democrat-Times takes pleasure in announcing the re-election of William Wack as chief of the Aspen fire department. Mr. Wack’s election was unanimous this year, there being no other candidate to oppose him.
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He received almost as many votes as were cast at the special election held here a few weeks ago, which tends to show the popularity of the chief.
As stated in this paper before, Mr. Wack is the right man in the right place and the city has had better fire protection since he has had control than ever before.
An American Olympic hopeful’s hopes were dashed during a training accident on Aspen Mountain 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:
America’s hopes for an Olympic ski victory next February dimmed last Saturday, Dec. 12, when Bud Werner broke his leg while training at Aspen.
Werner, 23, considered the best racer in this country and a strong favorite to win one or more gold medals at the Squaw Valley races, suffered spiral fractures to both bones of his lower right leg at about noon while practicing slalom with his teammates on the Buckhorn slope.
According to a statement made later, he caught his right ski tip between two flags while running a flush. “I twisted up and over the tip,” he said, “and felt the bones break as my body was in the air.”
He was rushed by toboggan and Jeep to the Pitkin County Hospital. That evening at 5 p.m., Aspen Doctor Robert Oden performed an open reduction operation on Werner’s leg and joined the bone with five steel screws.
Less than 48 hours later, the ski champion was released from the hospital to begin convalescence at an Aspen apartment provided by friends. He is not expected to be able to ski again this winter, according to a statement he made in an interview with The Aspen Times.
The news of his accident was picked up immediately by newspapers throughout the world, for during the past two years, Werner had won international races in most European countries. At Aspen last winter, he swept the U.S. Championships, winning the downhill, the slalom, the giant slalom and the combined.
Aspen was swept up in the spirit of the season 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:
This week, as lights and decorations in the area indicate, pre-Christmas activity increased in tempo, and many special plans were made for the holiday season.
After weeks of preparation, the annual elementary school pageant, an operetta, will be held Tuesday evening, Dec. 22.
Area children will be treated by the Eagles to a Christmas party featuring Santa and goodies on Wednesday night. And on Thursday, Christmas Day, children are invited to a free movie, sponsored by the Elks.
In addition, all local churches have announced special services and assemblies.
An avalanche on Aspen Mountain claimed the life of a local man 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:
A lone out-of-bounds run into a high avalanche risk area northeast of Aspen Mountain’s slopes proved fatal to five-year Aspenite Archie Wallen last Thursday.
Wallen, 27, crossed the ski a