25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 years ago

Compiled by Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Weekly
Courtesy Aspen Historical SocietyLocal efforts were under way to start a junior ski-jumping competition in 1961. Ski jumping had attracted attention in Aspen before, as shown by this 1957 photo, which is thought to be a competition at Willoughby Jump.

According to The Aspen Democrat-Times, a century ago, many people were “wrought to fever heat” by the report that a petition was in circulation to head off election for city officials. The newspaper reported:

Last night a seething, boiling, turbulent mass of humanity filled Hyman Avenue between Galena and Mill streets, every man in the crowd voicing his sentiments as to a petition that was said to have been put in circulation during the day.

The said petition was said to contain an endorsement of the present mayor and aldermen and that they might be continued in office for another term, it was declared to be useless for the various political parties to hold conventions for the purpose of nominating tickets as the petition, when a sufficient number of signatures had been secured, would be filed in lieu of a regular nomination.

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Alternative energy is hardly a new concept, though the one being touted a century ago probably didn’t do much to preserve the environment. The Aspen-Democrat Times reported:

Billy Tagert is never contented unless he is adding something new to his business, something to give his patrons greater advantage and better results.

Yesterday, Frank E. Kimball, representing the “Rumely Oil Pull Tractor,” dropped into town and today Mr. Tagert is the agent for that engine in this valley, and already he has sold one of these engines to Billy Williams, who will use it to do his plowing, harrowing, cultivating and harvesting, and thereby save his horses for driving purposes.

This Rumely Oil Pull engine is a new thing in power and does away with all fuel except the cheapest grade of crude or coal oil.

The latest census data for Pitkin County, recently released, indicated the county’s population climbed by 15.3 percent in the past decade – to 17,148. Fifty years ago, the county also saw a growth spurt. The Aspen Times reported:

Observations by visitors that Aspen and the territory around it seem to be growing rapidly were confirmed recently by the Colorado State Planning Division.

Pitkin County, in which Aspen is the largest community, was the seventh fastest growing county in Colorado between 1950 and 1960, according to the state agency.

Population in the county in 1950 was 1,646. In 1960, it was 2,381, a hike of 735 or 44.7 percent. During the same period, population in the city of Aspen, which is only a portion of the Aspen area, jumped from 916 to 1,101, or 20.2 percent.

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Helicopters were summoned to assist with local avalanche control 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Always present after new snow, the danger of surprise avalanches will be less after last Wednesday, March 8, when a helicopter was used to blast steep slopes in the Aspen area.

Plagued by snow slides during the past few weeks, the Aspen Skiing Corp. contracted with Helicopters Inc. of Denver to fly over inaccessible slopes while members of the ski patrol dropped dynamite.

Seven sticks with caps and fuses were used for each charge and eight charges were dropped. Seven slides were started by the eight charges after the three-minute fuses ignited the dynamite.

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Plans to initiate ski jumping in Aspen were in the news 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

Ski jumping in Aspen may be headed for a rebirth if plans now being made by the ski club and a group of local residents materialize.

Working with John Kuehlman, sixth grade teacher and jumping instructor with the school skiing program, the group has scheduled a junior jumping tournament for local children.

The meet, first of its kind for several years, will be held Sunday, March 19 at Buttermilk Mt. or Little Nell, and will be open to all local children – those who participated in the school program as well as those who did not.

First prize for the meet with be a pair of Norwegian jumping skis.

World Cup racing in Aspen hit a sour note 25 years ago, when competitors refused to run the giant slalom course. The Aspen Times reported:

A protest by racers and coaches from several European countries led to the cancellation of Sunday’s giant slalom race in Aspen, even though the official race jury had given it a go-ahead.

Questionable course conditions due to rainfall the night before, fairness for the later racers and the inability of two forerunners to complete the course past the Spring Pitch section led to the racers’ protest and blockade at the second gate of the 50-gate course.

Andreas Wenzel of Lichtenstein, giant slalom silver medalist in the 1980 Olympics, was reportedly one of the organizers of the blockade, protesting the running of the race.

Wenzel called the conditions, wet snow on ice, “dangerous.” But the race was also called unfair by him and other competitors because “each race is very important because there are only five GS’s (seven were originally scheduled) held,” this season.