25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 years ago

Compiled by Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Weekly

A smelting company was considering setting up shop in Aspen a century ago, but wanted assurance that a plant would receive at least 100 tons of ore per day to process. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

M.D. Bowden and John E. Mayers, special representatives of the Kuenzel Process Smelter Company of Buena Vista, Colorado, yesterday and today have been looking around to see what the Aspen district had to offer in the way of inducement for the erection of one or more of their bullion smelters here.

The gentlemen are satisfied there is a large field here for such a plant but at the present time, the heavy producers are under contract to ship their ore to the valley smelters.

The company is now erecting a number of smelters in different parts of the state. These plants are put in under the contract system which provides that the company will erect a smelter of at least 100 tons capacity, per day of 24 hours, for the treatment of all kinds of ore and at cost not to exceed $4.00 per ton, regardless of kind or character, and to keep it in constant and continued operation except for repairs, strikes or Providence, for a period of at least five years.

Local speedsters were among racers at the starting line for the inaugural Sports Car Meet on the Front Range 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

When the green flag falls Saturday to inaugurate two days of sport car racing at the Continental Divide Raceways near Castle Rock, Colo., there will be two Aspen cars on the starting grid.

The two cars, a Crosley Special and an Alfa Romeo, will be driven by their owners, Dr. J. Sterling Baxter and Bil Dunaway. The two are members of the Aspen Sports Car Club.

In addition to the two drivers, several Aspenites will be on hand as members of the club’s pit crew during the two days of road racing.

Mining interests were behind improvements to Castle Creek Road, south of Aspen, 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

At no cost to Pitkin County, the Castle Creek road will be widened and renovated, it was learned at the commissioners meeting Monday, May 2.

The width of the road, now 18 feet in most places, will be increased to 30 feet. All eight culverts between Highway 82 and Ashcroft will also be extended.

Work will be performed by the Morrison-Knudson Co. for the Pitkin County Iron Corp., the firm recently incorporated to mine, process and sell ore. Its lode is at Star Peak Basin, a few miles above Ashcroft.

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Oil shale production in western Colorado is once again the subject of ongoing research. Fifty years ago, one company gave up on the effort. The Aspen Times reported:

Union Oil Co. of California has called off a three-year study of methods to produce oil shale and will dismantle its $8 million plant at Grand Valley, Colo.

At the company’s Los Angeles headquarters, a spokesman said the plant 16 miles west of Rifle will be torn down “very soon” and as much of the machinery and equipment as possible will be sold or salvaged.

He said 55,000 acres of oil shale-rich land the company owns in the area will be retained by the firm. The company bought the land in 1923, he said.

Aspen had a new slate of City Council members after the spring election 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

For most of those involved in the election it is a relief when the travail is finally over. The candidates can relax from the constant barrage of questions and the press can sit back to summarize and analyze what it all means.

Looking back on this election there are mixed reviews. Dick Knecht said it was dumb that either he or Fred Crowley didn’t pull out and let one or the other beat Bill Stirling for mayor.

Stirling says the criticisms and innuendoes leveled against him by other candidates were pure bunk.

Crowley has said he has not given up on the issues and causes addressed in his campaign and that he will be working with Stirling and other councilmembers to get his points across.

Pat Fallin and Tom Isaac say the voters have now mandated what they have been saying about creating active government and an energetic council that is now going to get things done.

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The restaurant doesn’t operate at all now, but 25 years ago, nighttime operation of Ruthie’s on Aspen Mountain was under consideration. The Aspen Times reported:

Issues of safety, dust, lights and noise are the ones that could probably be mitigated in the nighttime operation of Ruthie’s restaurant on Aspen Mountain.

The bigger question, though, is one of precedent setting. If one restaurant is allowed to operate outside the range of winter, ski-related operations, others may too, and that could cause a dramatic change in the land use on Aspen-area ski mountains.

The owner of Ruthie’s restaurant, Frank Lerner, wants to expand the use of the restaurant and proposed doing so to the Pitkin County commissioners at their regular meeting Monday.

• • • •

A new addition to local wilderness came into the public’s hands 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Located in the Aspen District of the White River National Forest, the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area was enlarged by 472 acres through a purchase consummated this morning.

The new addition to the wilderness, expanded to contain it in 1980, is in the Conundrum Creek Valley and was purchased for the Forest Service by the Trust for Public Lands.

It was formerly owned by Alpert P. Christensen, Grand Junction, Colo., and was acquired by the trust for its appraised value of $950,000, Matt Mathes, public information officer for the White River Forest, explained.

It is located roughly three miles from the trailhead, above the small parking lot where vehicles are blocked, he explained.