25-50-100 years ago

Sara Garton
The road to Taylor Park, the original access to Aspen from the south, was hazardous and steep. Its clearing for travel in the spring was heralded by the newspaper in 1905. Aspen Historical Society photo.

Copies of The Aspen Times from 1904 until 1909 are missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. To continue our journalistic history of Aspen, we include excerpts from The Aspen Democrat, the Times’ competitor 100 years ago.An enthusiastic report of the longest-running celebration on the Western Slope was datelined GLENWOOD SPRINGS, June 17.Great, grand, glorious and a whole bunch of “Good Old Summer Times” mixed into one grand gala day.And Aspen was here about 500 strong. There were Eagles who left their aeries early each morning and swarmed on all the incoming trains and shouted for Aspen’s great Fourth of July celebration.Then there were the bands, one of the best being from Aspen, led by Col. Wood of the Jerome hotel. Then the baseball team from Aspen, which batted the home team out of the box, winning by a score of 16 to 7. Art Hull, of course, was captain of the team and handled his men as only Art can. …”Hurrah for Aspen” was the cry heard on all sides. “We’ll be there on the Fourth and so will all the Eagles.”

And the occasion of this?Why, Strawberry Days at Glenwood!And the crowds. The city was filled to more than repletion. It was overcrowded, but the management was in the hands of capable men and everything went without a hitch. …Following the parade there was a welcome for all visitors, and everyone was given all the strawberries and cream they could eat. Everybody had a good time. …In the evening there was a brilliant illumination of vari-colored lights in the plaza in front of the Hotel Glenwood where about 4,000 persons congregated.It was during this illumination that the only really exciting incident of the day occurred.In addition to the colored lights, there were festoons of red, white and blue tissue paper, and shortly after the electric current had been turned on, a faulty wire ignited one of the streamers. In an instant the entire mass was in flames and the women spectators began to scream in terror.The men jumped forward, pulled the then flaming mass to the ground and tramped it under foot.As stated, today will end the festival and Aspen will give the Springs baseball team a chance to get even.The seasonal opening of the road to Taylor Park 100 years ago was as exciting for the community as the spring opening of Independence Pass is today. The paper reported,

[Road overseer M.H.] Callahan informed the Democrat that the road is now open clear to the park, he having cleared it from Ashcroft to the top of Taylor range at which point he was met by the Gunnison county road overseer and gang of men. …Jack Atkinson returned last night with Mr. Callahan and will leave today with his mule teams loaded with machinery and supplies for the Enterprise mine, arriving at the mine sometime tomorrow.Mr. Callahan says the road was in terrible condition. Tons upon tons of snow, ice and rock were cleared out of the road and while he has not finished all he intends doing, the road is now open for travel.Now that the road to Taylor park is opened, travel to that place will be steady and continuous, both in and out of the park. In consequence, Wm. Tagert, who is always alive to necessary business conveniences, starts a stage line between this city and the park today. He will run a four horse team and make the trip three times a week to accommodate all. The next day, the paper reported even more promising news from Taylor Park,Word was received in the city yesterday from the Enterprise mine at Taylor park that another rich strike had been made in the property. The exact value could not be learned, but from the brief news brought to the city the strike was made on the lower level and a large body of ore has been uncovered. This doesn’t look like Aspen is coming off the map, now does it, dear reader.

What’s predictable about springtime weather in the Rocky Mountains is that it’s unpredictable. During the International Design Conference in Aspen (see photo), the paper mused,Gather any two designers, permit a lapse in the professional conversation, and you’ll hear, “Is it raining now?” Confront a visitor with an old Aspenite, and what does he ask? “Does it ALWAYS rain here?”And the concern with the foul weather (which, by the way, is unusually foul, even for the foul Spring Aspen has had) doesn’t limit itself to the conference people, either. Two employees of one of the better known hotels in this town were over coffee Wednesday morning. And, of course, the weather came up. “But they’re such nice people!” one of them said, “and they even brought their bathing suits with them.”There was a production update from the Hollywood company filming at Ashcroft.Sergeant Preston of the Yukon will be back! Right now, the leading man is out of the cast, or rather in a cast. Tuesday, the first shooting day of the serial adventure film based on the experiences of a Canadian Mountie in the Yukon territory, a horse shied and brushed into Sgt. Preston’s arm. The resulting injury, feared to be a break, but perhaps only a compression fracture, puts the star of the television show on the inactive list.The paper reported on the “East Aspen Problem,” a property deed snafu.

The “problem,” which arose about nine months ago after lying dormant and unknown for about 60 years, concerns itself with the illegitimacy of most of the deeds in the East Aspen Addition. It seems that the area belongs not to the people who live there, or the City of Aspen, or even Pitkin County, but to the United States Government. This, of course, makes all the deeds issued by these first two agencies invalid.The way it all happened was that way back in the late [18]80s, the city, then a bustling mining town, wanted to annex certain areas to the north, east and south, but was prevented from so doing because most of the land was already under mining claims. The land itself was U.S. Government property.Undaunted, the city fathers of the time somehow managed to persuade the holders of these claims to relinquish them. This much is known from the records. Evidently, the city filed an application with the Bureau of Land Management in Washington for a patent on the area. And, as well as can be deduced from the remaining data, the application was lost.However, no one really cared. Silver prices, upon which the town was dependent, cascaded, virtually making Aspen a ghost town. … Needless to say, no one worried about deeds and other legalities. … In fact, the city and county have for years collected taxes on property in that area on the assumption that the patent had been approved long before. … Not until the humanities-music-ski boom came along did anyone ever think of building, much less determining a clear title to property that probably wasn’t his anyway. …This much is known: If East Aspen is ever to be legally a part of the City of Aspen, and if the deeds to property in that area are ever to be valid, a formal application must be filed with the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, accompanied by a new survey of the area. …[O]nce the patent is approved, which may take several years, some warn, all the land in the in the proposed East Aspen Addition would be given by the Federal Government to the city, and all so concerned outside the proposed city limits would go to the county. These agencies would make out the deeds, legal this time, to the landowners, keeping the roads and streets under their own control.

A purchase that would become known as the Burlingame parcel was being negotiated 25 years ago. The paper reported,An open-space purchase approved by county commissioners two weeks ago was in serious jeopardy this week.Joseph Zoline, owner of the 45 acres in question, has a different view of the land options, according to Sandra Stuller, county attorney. The county view was that six parcels making up the 45 acres would be bought from Zoline over the next six years. …Zoline wants the right to buy back the land purchased in the event all six options are not exercised. …Zoline also said, according to Stuller, that he would not sell the strip along Highway 82 first, but rather, a parcel on the Park Meadows end of the property.The parcel would be inaccessible to the public and would not accomplish the county’s open space objectives along the highway.After a two-year battle, a truce was reached between the Aspen Institute and City Council.Despite strong objections from three members, Aspen’s city council gave specially planned area approval to the Aspen Institute’s conference center development plan during its regular meeting Monday. …It provides for development of a conference center with 265 guest and faculty bedrooms, 92 of which may be used for tourists on a quarterly basis, which is 8,464 tourist room days each three months.

Approval of a similar ordinance was rejected last July after two years of consideration by the council and planning and zoning commission when institute officials refused to accept any control on the amount of tourist use.A citizens committee organized by the chamber of commerce met separately with [Institute’s Robert O.] Anderson and the city council last fall and winter to help prepare the compromises that are incorporated in the present ordinance.The paper announced an annual community gathering,”See you at the Picnic” is the byword spreading around the valley this week, as Sunday’s Deaf Camp Picnic nears.The 12th annual picnic to benefit the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf will be held this Sunday, June 15, from noon to 7 pm at the Snowmass Creek campground. A traditional barbecue lunch of BBQ beef, baked beans, cole slaw and corn on the cob will be served as an aside to the day of country music and entertainment. …This year, as in years before, singer John Denver will make a special guest appearance in his role as principal godfather of the picnic. Last year, in addition to Denver, singer Jimmy Buffet appeared on stage. This year, nobody is saying for sure, but rumors are flying of even more superstars.Other performers will include the Bobby Mason Band, Jimmy Ibbotson and the Sons of Thunder, and of course, Twirp Anderson and the Country Cannonball.