25-50-100 years ago … | AspenTimes.com
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25-50-100 years ago …

Devon Meyers/Aspen Times file Twenty-five years ago, after a fresh dumping of powder on Aspen Mountain, crews were busy packing the course for the upcoming America's Downhill, one of two men's World Cup competitions scheduled for Aspen in early March.
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A century ago, there were visions of a hydro-electric facility on the Roaring Fork River, east of Aspen. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

This morning the map of the Roaring Fork Reservoir was filed in the office of the county clerk and recorder by H.A. House, of Pueblo, the claimant. S.H. Manning was engineer. The reservoir will be located in irrigation Division N. 5 and Water District No. 38, the capacity of which will be 33,121,720 cubic feet of water for power purposes.

The dam will be about 350 feet in width by 110 feet in length and will back the water up for about three-quarters of a mile.

This reservoir will have an outlet pipe 6 feet in diameter, with a grade of one foot in 2,000 feet, the capacity of which will be 121.5 cubic feet of water per second of time, and it is estimated it will cost $250,000. The dam will be at a point three miles above where Difficult Creek empties into the Roaring Fork.

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A series of evangelical gatherings at the Wheeler Opera House apparently drew a crowd a century ago. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

The evangelistic meetings at the opera house continue with much interest and even enthusiasm. …

On Monday night, Dr. Hamilton’s subject was “Sampson Shorn of His Locks.” He held him up as an illustration of a Christian shorn of his spiritual power. In his home and in his life, and of a church that has lost its power by indulging in worldly things. He spoke very plainly to men and women who had come out West and left their religion and church membership back East, or of those who had kept their religion and letters in their trunks until the mice had eaten them. Such people, he said, should unite with the church of God in the place where they live, and not bury their influence.

President’s weekend, as it’s now known, generated booming business 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Records fell in Aspen last weekend as business after business chalked up its busiest day or busiest two days in history.

When results are compared they point to the fact that more people were in Aspen Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20 and 21, than ever before in its brief span as a ski resort.

While reporting their record-breaking business, many local businessmen expressed amazement at the volume since traditionally Christmas is the most crowded period of the year.

But although the Christmas holiday weekend was also a statistics maker this year, figures show that business over the Washington Birthday weekend was substantially higher.

Although no exact count was made, D.R.C. Brown, executive vice president for the Aspen Skiing Corp., reported that an estimated 2,500 skiers were on Aspen Mountain Sunday using the various chairlifts.

This is about 25 percent more people than had ever used the mountain on one day before, he stated.

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Aspen Mountain boasted new communications equipment 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Two-way radio communications were added to the safety precautions now employed on Aspen Mountain, it was revealed this week by D.R.C. Brown, executive director of the Aspen Skiing Corp.

Installed by Aspenite John Ohyarcarbal, the radio facilities are for emergency use, Brown explained. However, the network is also used to report snow conditions and other information of a routine nature.

Transmitters and receivers are located in the corporation offices at the corner of East Hyman and South Mill Streets, Midway, Sundeck and number 5 lift which goes to the top of Bell Mountain.

The equipment at the Sundeck is portable, Brown said. It can be taken wherever an emergency exists to provide communications with other points on the mountain or the office in town. …

In addition to notifying the ski patrol about injured skiers, the apparatus can be used to report breakdowns of lifts or to locate people on the mountain.

Aspen now hosts women’s World Cup racing early in the season, but 25 years ago the town was gearing up for men’s race events – a downhill and giant slalom – in early March. The Aspen Times reported:

And now the countdown begins for the fifth Subaru Aspen Winternational, a week-long binge of fireworks, parades, parties, dinners and fierce competition by the best ski racers in the world.

Some 130 racers will arrive in town on Monday and Tuesday, straight from World Cup races in Furano, Japan. Among them will be all the top-seeded skiers on the World Cup circuit, and with only three more events left in the season, the competition will be that much more intense.

In next Saturday’s downhill – America’s Downhill – the favorites are Helmut Hoeflehner, Peter Wernsberger and Anton Steiner of Austria, Switzerland’s Peter Mueller, Franze Heinzer, Conradin Cathomen and Pirmin Zurbrigen (who’s the current overall leader), Todd Brooker of Canada, and the USA’s own Bill Johnson, who won this race last year after having won his gold medal in Sarajevo.

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Aspen was to have a multi-screen movie theater in Stage 3 Theatres on Main Street, though the moviehouse would eventually be torn down for a stalled redevelopment project. Twenty-five years ago, Aspen’s old Playhouse Theater was sold, paving the way for its redevelopment as the Stage 3 multiplex. The Aspen Times reported:

The Playhouse Theater has been sold to a Minneapolis-based chain of movie theaters and will probably be converted to a triplex, according to current owner Don Swales.

Although the contract hasn’t been signed on the dotted line yet, Swales told The Aspen Times Wednesday, “as far as I’m concerned it’s a sale.” He added that the closing is set for April 1 and he expects to shut down his operation the day before.

The buyer is Carisch Theaters Inc., which owns about 30 houses with about 90 screens in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Montana.

George Carisch, president of the company, confirmed that the transaction is well under way but pointed out that nothing is final yet. Neither he nor Swales would discuss the terms of the sale.

– compiled by Janet Urquhart


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