25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 years ago

Compiled by Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado

The death of a New Castle lawman made news in Aspen a century ago. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

John M. Rennix, city marshal of New Castle, died today.

A martyr to his duty, Rennix was shot Wednesday night while trying to save the lives of New Castle residents who were menaced by William Griffith, a drink crazed saloon man.

Griffith the day before had been convicted on a charge of assault preferred by J.T. Sample, a rancher. When released on bond, the man returned to New Castle, vowing revenge not only against Sample but against the mayor, city council and other residents.

He first attacked Sample and chased him down the main street, firing as he ran. Rennix came to the rescue and his command to “surrender” was answered by a bullet from Griffith’s gun which punctured the officer’s abdomen. The maniac then turned upon the spectators, killing one and seriously wounding another. Later, he locked himself in his room and took his own life.

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Thanksgiving Day was plentiful in Aspen a century ago. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

Thanksgiving was more generally observed this season than for many years past. …

Yesterday, the weather being fine, many city people enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at ranch homes.

In the city, it seemed to be a continuous feast. Many families entertained or were entertained at the noon hour and the courtesy reciprocated at the dinner hour.

As far as can be learned, none went without turkey unless they so desired.

The opening of ski season on Aspen Mountain and at Highlands 50 years ago was heralded by the headline “Ski Season Schusses In.” The Aspen Times reported:

Chairlifts in one of the world’s largest complexes of skiing facilities began operating in Aspen Thursday, Nov. 24, to inaugurate the 15th season of their existence.

Although skiing was available only on the upper part of Aspen’s two major developments yesterday, the resort had a big day, the busiest Thanksgiving on record. The amount of business done will be known later when figures have been compiled.

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Locals and visitors had a chance to see Aspen from above, thanks to a new venture launched 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

A view of Aspen from the air is now available to visitors and residents through the auspices of Aspen Airways, which initiated local scenic flights this week.

To be used in the 25-minute flights is a new four-place Cessna Skyplane. Flights may be reserved by one to three people.

Included in the itinerary is the Elk Range, including the Maroon Bells, the Snowmass Wilderness area, Aspen Mountain and the Sundeck, Independence Pass and the city of Aspen.

Costs of the flights has been set at $18. This is the same for one, two or three passengers. In announcing the new service, pilot Bert Simons recommended that passengers bring cameras to record the spectacular scenery.

Aspen Airways also operates regular flights to Denver and return in its twin-engineered Beechcraft.

Chairlift trouble made news at the start of the ski season 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

An accident this week on Aspen Mountain that resulted in the ejection of two ski patrollers from a chairlift, and a near-miss of a chair and a lift tower during a test run yesterday, Nov. 27, have contributed to the indefinite closure of lift number five.

Wednesday morning, Aspen Skiing Company instructors were asked to ride the Bell Mountain chair to duplicate an incident that happened Monday when ski patrolmen Erik Peltonen, 43, and Karen Chisholm, 32, were propelled out of their chair and fell 40 feet to the ground.

According to sources, the ASC first asked members of the ski patrol to ride the lift for a safety test. The patrollers flatly refused. One patrolman said, “We didn’t want to be human guinea pigs.”

A group of ski instructors agreed to test lift five, yesterday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m., when the near-miss allegedly occurred.

A witness said the chair with two instructors was swinging as it left the loading terminal and when it reached the site of Monday’s accident, tower one, it came “awfully close to the cable,” forcing the occupants to duck.

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There was also good news on the chairlift front in November 1985. The Aspen Times reported:

The Aspen Skiing Company yesterday gave a preview of the $4 million worth of lift and terrain improvements that were completed this fall on Aspen Mountain.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve spent any money on the mountain,” said ASC president Jerry Blann before he christened the newly renovated lift number three.

Lift three, the most used chair on the mountain, has been upgraded to a quadruple chair, from a double, increasing capacity from 1,200 skiers per hour to 1,800 per hour.

This lift has also been realigned so it crosses over lift two near the top of the mountain.

Aspen Mountain opens today, Thanksgiving, with “one of the finest bases we’ve ever had,” said Blann.

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