25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 years ago

Compiled by Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado

Frank Martin/Aspen Times fileFans of the late John Denver recently gathered in Aspen to mark the anniversary of his death. Twenty-five years ago, the local singer-songwriter performed a couple of his songs as part of a program on conflict resolution at Aspen High School.

Divers were headed down a Smuggler Mountain mine shaft a century ago. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

Two deep-sea divers from the Chapman company of New York will arrive in the city on Monday’s Midland and will at once begin their preparations to go down to the bottom of the Free Silver shaft for the purpose of packing the pump on the twelfth level.

Should they be successful in packing this large relief pump, and there is no good reason why they should not be, then the water will come out of the shaft in a hurry.

The pumps now in operation have taken the water some ten feet below the eleventh level and by the time the divers are ready to begin operating, the water will be considerably less than 100 feet deep.

Some of our people have considered the diver proposition as a joke, not knowing that the salvage companies have the most skilled and enterprising men in their employ – men who, if occasion should demand, could build a mansion or repair a watch beneath 100 feet of water.

Watch and learn.

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A convicted horse thief was sentenced to reformation at Buena Vista a century ago. The Aspen Times-Democrat reported:

Walter Poe was arraigned in the district court this morning, charged with horse stealing. He pleaded guilty to the charge. A number of witnesses for the people were put on the stand to make the case. At the noon recess, but one more witness was to be examined.

Shortly after reconvening of court, the taking of testimony was concluded and the prisoner was remanded to jail to await sentence.

It will be remembered that some time ago, Poe was alleged to have stolen a horse from the barn of Michael Lynch, on which he rode to Basalt. He was arrested the next day and brought back to the city and placed in the county jail.

Some days later, he escaped after digging a hole through the stone foundation of the cell house. Leaving the city, he “borrowed” a horse of Jerry Gerbaz at Watson, on which he rode to Snow Mass where he exchanged horses with Billy Williams. Later that day, he was apprehended and returned to the county jail.

Aspen was on the cusp of hunting season 50 years ago, and the arrival of sportsmen made the news. The Aspen Times reported:

Sportsmen from throughout the country began arriving in Aspen and other Western Colorado mountain towns today in preparation for the annual big game hunting season, which opens Monday, Oct. 17.

The influx is expected to increase in intensity as the weekend passes, reaching its peak Sunday evening as thousands of hunters leave the civilized areas for campgrounds in the hills.

Colorado Game and Fish Department officials estimate that more hunters than ever before will try their luck this year for a shot at a deer, elk or bear.

If the 1960 season is like those of past years, more than half the local business firms will close on Monday to permit owners and employees to try for an opening-day kill.

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A “fire-setting spree” was in the offing in Aspen 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Five buildings east of the county courthouse on Main St. will go up in flames in the near future, Fire Chief Clyde Clymer predicted last week.

Although the Aspen fire chief is usually not so adept at scheduling conflagrations, he can make this forecast with certainty.

Clymer will set the fires.

The project has a two-fold purpose: first, to clear property in the area, with the owners’ permission; and second, to train volunteers in the use of firefighting equipment.

The buildings, three houses and some sheds, have laid idle for several years and constitute a fire hazard in their present state. It is understood that new structures are planned in their place.

A West End parcel known as Pioneer Park made headlines 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

A historically significant block-long parcel in Aspen has had its lot lines realigned to make it more attractive for potential buyers, despite concerns that any sale might harm the parcel’s historical value.

The city has been mulling over whether or not to buy Pioneer Park, a block-long parcel and site of an old, pink Victorian.

Both the lot and the house are owned by Mary Weaver and her son, John Weaver.

The house was built and named by Henry Webber, Aspen’s fifth mayor, whose wife died of strychnine poisoning in 1881 under rumors of foul play.

The house is supposed by some to be haunted by the wife’s ghost. Some say she committed suicide over her husband’s clandestine romance with his niece, whom he married five months after his wife’s death.

In April, it was reported that the asking price for the property was $450,000, and the city has been urged by the Pitkin County Parks Association and the Aspen Historical Society to buy it.

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A smoking ban in Aspen was ready to debut 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

No ifs, ands or butts about it, starting Saturday, smoking in public places in the City of Aspen is verboten.

The new city smoking ordinance goes into effect on Saturday, Oct. 19, 1985. On that date, smoking is prohibited in all public places in Aspen except in special, designated areas in which it is allowed.

According to Environmental Health Officer Bob Nelson, designated areas must be clearly marked with signs. In restaurants, at least 50 percent of the seating must set aside for nonsmokers.

Nelson explained that restaurants have six months to make their entire public seating areas no-smoking. The only smoking areas allowed by the city in restaurants at that time will be those areas totally separate and ventilated.