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

Compiled by Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Weekly

“Aspen should hasten to get out of the fog,” read a headline in The Aspen Democrat-Times a century ago. The newspaper reported:

Captain James T. Smith, the mining editor of the Denver News, ably sustains the position taken by the Democrat-Times on the unwatering proposition. Coming from a distance, this article will attract more attention than if it had originated in Aspen.

Here is what Captain Smith has to say:

“Word comes from Aspen that the proposition to unwater the famous Free Silver shaft at the common expense of the mines interested is yet ‘hanging fire.’ This is not as it should be. The persons mainly interested, D.R.C. Brown, Elias Cohn, E. Dunbar Wright and W.S. Copeland, are experienced businessmen and enterprising citizens who have sufficient vision to apprehend that this is apt to be a favorable season for silver on account of the relation of China, India and Canada to the white metal.” …

“The division of the pumping costs is a problem as old as Colorado. It was launched when Pike’s Peak was a freshman and has remained on the docket ever since, with a few notable solutions like the Yuk tunnel at Leadville, the Newhouse in Gilpin and Clear Creek, and the rapidly progressing Roosevelt enterprises in Cripple Creek, which means a doubling of values in that favored locality. Aspen should hasten to get out of the fog.”

• • • •

The death of a foremost American writer also garnered considerable attention in the Democrat-Times 100 years ago in an article datelined Redding, Conn. The newspaper reported:

Samuel Langhorn Clemens died painlessly at 6:30 o’clock last night, of angina pectoris. He lapsed into a coma at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and never recovered consciousness.

At the death bed were his daughter, Mrs. Ossip Gabrilwitsch, and husband Dr. Robert Halsey, Dr. Quintard, Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twain’s biographer, and the two trained nurses.

It was the end of a man outworn by grief and acute agony of the body.

The local airport was increasingly busy a half-century ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Traffic at the Aspen airport has skyrocketed during the past year, it was learned this week from a report issued by Robert Sommers Jr., airport manager.

Sommers’ report was presented Monday to the Aspen City Council by County Commissioner Tom Sardy, who appeared before the group to request a $1,000 donation to help finance additional airport improvements. The request was granted.

The figures show more air passengers in the first three months of 1960 than during the first six months of 1959.

According to Sommers, during the first six months of 1959, there were 1,182 operations in and out at the airport and 2,701 passengers were handled. This year during the first three months, 2,327 passengers were handled by a total of 943 flights.

• • • •

Fifty years ago, Aspen wasn’t ready for mail delivery after all. The Aspen Times reported:

Aspen will not have a mail delivery system this year or in the immediate future it was learned this week by Postmaster George Ware.

Ware learned that, after an investigation of the area, its population and conditions, the Post Office Department has decided against establishing delivery service.

Aspenites were facing the loss of an institution of sorts 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

“It’s the Aspen story,” said Ron Baar this week. “Aspen is a changing town and we have to change with the times.” The manager and president of Tom’s Market, located on the corner of Hyman and Galena in the Elks Building, confirmed that the grocery store’s lease will not be renewed next spring.

The Elks Board of Trustees sent a letter in December to the Baars, Ron and his father Curtis, informing them that the lease option on the space would be open to other bidders, with Tom’s Market having the first option if they could meet what the landlords thought was a reasonable rent.

The letter said that two potential tenants were willing to pay between $200,000 and $250,000 to “bring the space to a rentable condition.” The highest offer for rent that had been received by the trustees at that time was $6,278 per month.

The Aspen Times has learned that a retail clothing company based in California, Esprit, will rent the space beginning next April and plans to renovate the space at its own expense.

• • • •

A $5 lift ticket didn’t entice many to the slopes for spring skiing 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Locals obviously didn’t appreciate their specially designated week of skiing this year as much as last, according to preliminary figures from the Aspen Skiing Co.

ASC reports up to 70 percent fewer skiers took advantage of the $5 lift ticket this year that was offered during the week of April 15-21.

The Ski Company announced the extension of the season following a three-day snowstorm in late March when over 40 inches of snowfall was recorded.

Sherry More, Director of Marketing for the Aspen Skiing Company, feels the weather is to blame for the poor turnout.

“It was too hot at the beginning of the week, and the weather turned terrible at the end,” says More.

However, at least one local merchant feels the Ski Company should assume responsibility for the poor skier turnout.

Terry Young of the Ski Service Center in Aspen criticizes the ASC for announcing the extended season so late.

“If the Ski Company wouldn’t have been so wishy-washy, let people make their plans and let people in on (the announcement), it would have made a difference. Why should businesses be subject to the Ski Company’s whims?”


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