25-50-100 years ago
Editor’s Note: Copies of The Aspen Times from October 1903 until 1911 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.If the residents in the mining camp on Aspen Mountain had skis instead of snowshoes 100 years ago, it would have been powder day!For the first time this winter, the residents of Tourtelotte park, numbering about a dozen, are now completely snowed in and cannot come to town until the storm is over and the snow becomes packed sufficiently to travel on snowshoes.The paper went on to report,Just as Aspen and this part of Colorado were boasting that they were escaping the severe weather which has been current over a large portion of the United States, the worst storm of the season and in many respects the worst of many seasons, has swooped down upon us.
The amount of snow which has fallen in the past three days is variously estimated at from 12 to 16 inches. The latter figure is probably much more nearly correct. Fortunately the weather has not been abnormally cold and there has been little suffering in that respect. The driving snow, however, accompanied most of the time by a stiff wind, has been very severe on those whose work has required them to be out of doors and ranchers who were compelled to come to town and all others who have had to use the “suburban” roads have suffered considerable hardship.One of Aspen’s prominent second-home owners and benefactors (see photo) of 100 years ago made a quick visit.J.B. Wheeler was an incoming passenger yesterday morning on the Midland and after a day’s business stay in town looking after his various and extensive mining interests, left last evening for New York. Mr. Wheeler has been in Leadville for a short time looking after his mining interests in that district, which he reports to be very good.Still one of Aspen’s most popular gathering spots, the Elks Club (see photo) was planning a big expansion in 1905. One thing that Aspen has needed for some time past and which is about to be supplied to the pleasure of the many young men in the city, is a club where all kinds of outdoor sports and reading matter can be enjoyed to their heart’s content.The Elks, a popular organization in the city, have been looking up the matter concerning the advisability of opening a first-class and up-to-date club in the city and finally decided on the matter at their regular meeting Wednesday evening.
The new club rooms, which any city would be proud of, are to be opened up in the rooms formerly occupied by the Mollie Gibson club over the Aspen Dry Goods company’s store and are to be complete in every respect: billiard and pool rooms, hand ball court, reading room, gymnasium and all kinds of baths in use. The work of fitting the quarters is to be commenced immediately and ere long the empty rooms will reecho with life and pleasure and the Best People on Earth will then show all what they can accomplish. Today we don’t associate spring with the following warning, but apparently Aspenites did 100 years ago. The paper advised, Now that spring is coming, the season for poisoning dogs has opened up and some mean, low, low, lower down fellers have started the ball to rolling and those having valuable dogs had better muzzle them to prevent their eating any meat that is lying around. Already two pet dogs have been poisoned, one being the hound of Mr. McGlynn and the other the old pet of John Davidson.The Smuggler mine’s operation had been severely curtailed by a fire and then poisonous gas in several tunnels. Always hopeful of another bonanza, the paper enthusiastically reported,The Smuggler mine was reported in a better condition yesterday than it has been in some time past, the men gaining access to the 7th level, which they have been unable to do for some months. This is the level where the largest bodies of ore in the mine have been uncovered and men were put to work at once on the ore to transfer it to the surface where it will do everybody some good. It is sincerely hoped that the present condition will continue. Who said Aspen was downed?
Need a bigger playground? The street (see photo) was available 50 years ago. City Marshall Dick Miles presented a plan to the Council for the installation of a safety patrol at the school and the closing of the street in front of the school for play space for the children. Hallam Street from Aspen to Center will be closed with barricades from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on school days only. All resident of the block have agreed to park their vehicles on the side streets.The Council agreed to purchase 5 belts and badges for the safety patrol. The patrol will control students only and not try to halt traffic.Whoops! Isn’t this the wrong message for America’s overfed children? In the News About School column it was reported,A “Clean Plate Club” has been formed in grades one through six of the Aspen School. Each day, those students who clean their plates receive a badge and their name is placed on a honor roll. When a student does not clean his plate, his badge is taken away and his name is removed from the honor roll. A new gas station (known as Palazzi’s and a local hangout in the ’60s and ’70s) opened on Cooper Avenue in 1955 (see photo).
Aspen’s newest business, occupying a brand new business building, is the McDonald’s Texaco service located at the northeast corner of Cooper Avenue and Hunter Street. Douglas McDonald has leased the property and is now ready to meet the friends of Texaco products and make new friends.Aspen continued its battle in the water war with the Front Range – a war that seems to have no end. The paper reported,Pitkin County Commissioner Orest Gerbaz has been a member of the Upper Colorado Water Conservation District board for several years, and he has fought continually to have the board reverse its former decision and come out unalterably opposed to the Frying Pan [-Arkansas Diversion project] before compensatory dams were built to protect the western slope future.The Pitkin County Water Protection Association is again active in informing the citizens of Colorado the true facts of the effects of the Frying Pan-Arkansas Diversion on western slope economy. The “1955 Version – Rape of the Roaring Fork” is being sent out to every newspaper on the western slope as well as by mail to friends everywhere.
The historic Maroon Creek bridge has at last been approved for a redesign and funding from the Colorado Department of Transportation. As long as 25 years ago, it just couldn’t be patched anymore. The paper reported,Last Fourth of July weekend, one of the busiest weekends of the summer, traffic was slowed almost to a halt on the Maroon Creek Bridge just west of town. …The bridge was under construction for weeks as highway crews tore up the asphalt, replaced the steel planking, and laid down a new road surface.One Aspen local, while at a standstill in traffic on the bridge, bet a buddy that the repair job would fall apart by the first snowfall. He won his bet, by two days. And seven months later, highway crews came sheepishly to fill the gaping holes that opened up when the welds broke.[CDOT Supervisor Paul Chuvarsky] noted that this is the second failed attempt to repair the bridge. “We just frankly don’t know what to do.”Several business owners had complained about the December opening for skiing on Aspen Mountain. The Skiing Corporation decided it was time to install snowmaking.Snowmaking on Aspen Mountain, [Jack Brendlinger of the Aspen Skiing Corporation] said, would give the ski corp the ability to announce a late November opening date for both Aspen and Buttermilk mountains. …The system would cost the ski corp $1.5 million, it was projected, and could be built in two phases.
The first phase could cover about 70 acres and would basically include Little Nell, Lower Roch, Strawpile and Fifth Avenue.The second phase as presently envisioned would make snow on Ruthie’s, FIS and Spar Gulch, for a total of 150 acres. …The ski corp realizes an extensive snowmaking system so close to populated areas is not without problems, [ski corp vice president Jerry] Blann said.Pitkin County’s peacekeeping sheriff inspired an editorial in a Denver newspaper. The Aspen Times reported, A Rocky Mountain News editorial, entitled The Pitkin Perils of Dick Dove, called for the federal government to “get off Dick Kienast’s back.”The editorial, prompted by a feature article published in that paper a week earlier, stated in part: “Maybe Kienast should hew a tougher line on drugs, but there’s something to be said for his view that undercover operations are a ‘cure worse than the disease.'”And the federal drug agency is way off base in trying to bludgeon Kienast to its view by means of a criminal investigation.”Kienast has been the subject of a federal grand jury’s investigation since last December because of his public stand on undercover operations.
The editorial further stated: “If the people of Pitkin County don’t like Kienast’s law enforcement philosophy, they can vote for somebody else when election time rolls around.”The increasingly interventionist federal government should keep hands off,” the editorial concluded.
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