25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 years ago

Sara Garton

Aspen Historical Society photoA sports car speeds by the Golden Horn during the last auto race held in Aspen in 1954. Governor Johnson decreed in July 1955 to stop the use of Public Highways, which include county roads and streets of towns and cities for motor vehicle races.

Copies of The Aspen Times from 1904 until 1909 are missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. To continue our journalistic history of Aspen, we include excerpts from The Aspen Democrat, the Times’ competitor 100 years ago.Somebody was up to no good on a midsummer night. The paper reported,Some midnight marauder who had no better occupation than to endanger the lives of others and cause a disturbance must have enjoyed himself Wednesday night if his dastardly work is to be taken as a sample of his disposition. …[T]he loud report of an explosion occurred about 11 o’clock and could be heard throughout the city, the shock shaking homes in East Aspen … The powder was set off at the swinging bridge [see photo] at the foot of Hopkins avenue, the explosion totally demolishing the bridge and one end being blown into the river. …A worse time could not have been chosen for the cowardly trick, as about that time the employes of the Mollie mill go to work and all across the bridge. The first man to start that way, fortunately, had a dog with him, which discovered the danger and returned two or three times to his master, who struck a match and found the bridge was gone. He warned the other employes and all were forced to turn back and go a long way around to the mill. On the same night downtown …A firebug, who is well on to his profession in such low work, was evidently at work in the city some time during Wednesday night from the appearance of a blaze which was noticed issuing from the roof of the coal shed back of the frame building next to the Brown-Hoag block on Cooper avenue. The fire had been set from the inside of the roof, which was saturated with oil, but owing to the wood being wet and rather green, had smouldered during the night and broke out yesterday morning and was noticed by Wm. McGlynn, who put it out with water.

The annual bicycle race from Basalt to Glenwood Springs was a big event, with spectators riding the Colorado Midland train, cheering their favorite contestants along the way.The only drawback Sunday was the condition of the road owing to the recent storms, and the mud held back the riders from five to seven minutes.Aspen as usual contributed its share of excursionists which was joined at Basalt by a goodly number from points down the valley, and by the time a train had arrived, it required ten coaches all loaded to the guards to accommodate the crowd. …Some bookmakers from Glenwood were on the spot and it was possible to get any kind of a bet you wanted if you had the dough and felt sporty, and as usual considerable money changed hands. …The main point of interest was the Carbondale hill. Here the riders were in plain view. Very few of them, however, made the hill without getting off their wheels to walk. At Cardiff the train pulled out to get the crowd into Glenwood in time to see the riders pull in. But this time the steam was not equal to the occasion and Van Hoorebeke rode over the scratch before even the judges arrived to take the time.This item, reported elsewhere in the paper, supports a history of extreme athletes in our valley.One of the exciting events of the road race occurred just this side of Carbondale hill, when a young lady jumped off the train and not having any experience jumping off moving cars, she was thrown some distance striking on her shoulder and then turned a somersault. The train stopped to learn of her injuries, but she got up and ran toward her home at a lively pace.Today these mountain lakes are on the boundary of the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness (see photo), but a wilderness destination was not in the plans for 1905!Frank Warren was busy yesterday packing some of his household goods preparatory to removing them to his lake up on Smuggler mountain, where he expects to take up his permanent residence soon so as to give his attention to the lake and get it in readiness for next spring when it will be the leading resort of this section.

Colorado’s Governor Johnson rained on Aspen’s parade. The paper reported,The sports car race [see photo], scheduled in September by the Aspen Sports Car Club, has been cancelled due to the ban against that sport by the Highway Patrol following an order from Governor Edwin C. Johnson.The Aspen City Council had previously given the Aspen Club permission to use the city streets … Each year the race was run without any accidents, and during the 1954 race an estimated 3000 persons were in Aspen to see the race. …City Attorney Clinton Stewart sent a letter to Duke Dunbar, Attorney General, asking for a clear statement of policy.”BE IT RESOLVED That it is the policy of the State Patrol Board to stop the use of Public Highways which include county roads and streets of towns and cities for motor vehicle races irrespective of whether or not they are supervised. …”The annual race up Pikes Peak apparently stands in a different position, since we deem this highway to be in the nature of a private road over which the State Patrol has no jurisdiction. …”The fallout continued, as it was announced,

The Chamber of Commerce felt that in view of the fact that the sports car race was the main event of the Golden Aspen Festival that it was too late to begin planning for something to take its place and therefore it was better to forget 1955 and concentrate on a more complete and better Festival in 1956.Already ideas have been advanced for events for 1956: Country Fair type of weekend event; International Photographers conference; Rodeo; 4-H Exhibit and stock show; Jeep races up Aspen Mountain.But the town was only midway through an event-crammed summer.Aspen’s Third Annual Silver Stampede will get under way Saturday morning with a big parade that will see most of the horses in the Aspen area being used, along with numerous floats entered by the various Aspen merchants. …The arena event [are] located one mile west of town on Highway 82. …One of the features of both days will be a wild horse race as well as all of the events usually found in the better rodeos. The Sunday show will start earlier at 1 p.m. … [so] those who wish can attend the concert at the Amphitheater.

After a week of smoke-filled air, the headline reassured the community, “Weller Lake fire expected to be under control by tonight.”Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.Those are the feelings you get walking in the wake of devastation from the Weller Lake forest fire that has by today destroyed some 950 acres of timber and tundra. …Tree trunks crumbled away to dust at the touch of a finger.Burned boulders popped off their top layers in the intense heat. Swaths of black toothpicks stretched in lines up the once-green hills.There were no sounds of squirrels or pikas, only the buzz of pumps feeding fire hoses, and the shouts of fire crews as they relayed instructions.The forest fire … began innocuously enough last Thursday as a small campfire. … It was first officially spotted by a hang glider at about 2 p.m.It was dangerous, said [US Forest Service spokesman Bob] Poole, because of the steep terrain, falling dead trees, rolling rocks, loose footing, and unpredictable winds. It moved uphill and into the watershed between New York and Sunshine peaks. …At the time of the heaviest flame and smoke, there were as many as 250 trained professionals involved in fighting the fire.And still offers of volunteer services poured in from Aspen’s volunteer fire department and from concerned citizens. …”The way I look at it, ” said [District Forest Ranger Dennis] Bschor, “if I’d had 100 volunteers out there Thursday of Friday, 50 might have been hurt or killed. I didn’t want to call for volunteers unless I knew they were trained.” … they told volunteers that although the offers were a real credit to the community, they didn’t need people who would burn their tennis shoes. …[T]wo helicopters [were] armed with 300-gallon buckets of water that [were] refilled from Weller Lake.

A slurry bomber from Salt Lake City twice dropped chemicals over the blaze. But according to Poole, the steep narrow valley made it impossible for the plane to position for a successful drop. …The mop-up operations, which will go on for several more days, meant checking and watering down all hot spots.Teams with chain saws cleared burned and dead trees so they would not be lethal “silent sawyers” of the forest, dropping because their roots were burned through.The dead trees will probably be left where they fall, said Poole.But as early as August, the forest service will begin reseeding the burned areas.The real world asserted itself in Aspen, as the paper reported,The number of 19 year old males registering for the draft this week in Aspen is higher than expected, Assistant Postmaster Dave Mullikin said.Based on the size of the past two Aspen High School graduating classes, post office officials estimated about 50 local men would be required to sign up. By Wednesday, 56 had registered and about half were visitors to Aspen, Mullikin said.President Carter announced the plan to resume registration for possible draft in his January State of the Union address as a protest against the Soviet invasion [of Afghanistan] during the Nixon administration.Despite questions about the constitutionality of a mandatory draft, registration started Monday, the same day the Moscow Summer Olympic games began. The US is boycotting the games as another protest against the Soviets.

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