25-50-100 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-100 years ago

Sara Garton
The Cowenhave Tunnel under Smuggler Mountain was three miles long, and miners narrowly escaped from drowning in 1906 through the tunnel. (Courtesy Aspen Historical Society)

Microfilms of The Aspen Times 19041909 are missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1906 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.Two Lenado miners, whose paychecks were burning a hole in their pockets, got more R&R in Aspen than they bargained for. The paper reported, Yesterday two miners came down from our prosperous neighbor, Lenado, with their pockets lined with long green and yellow boys and prepared to take in the town. To do it properly they loaded up on bard-wire booze and the result is that this morning City Jailer Jack Harrington has two new boarders, Henri Maki and Fred Williamson, the latter having a head on him that would puzzle a phrenologist to tell what all the bumps stand for.

It appears that Maki and Williamson, after tanking up to their entire satisfaction, started for the depot about 7 o’clock last evening to purchase tickets for Leadville. On the way, they called on Miss Laura Veach, one of the occupants of Durant street. While in the house Williamson became quarrelsome and started to thump Miss Veach. The woman tried to avoid the big brute, but he slapped, choked, struck and slammed her around the room until in desperation she grabbed a grate-shaker and bammed him on the head whenever she could … luckily some men heard her cries, went to the rescue and threw the drunken bully out in the street.Captain Beatty was notified of the trouble and went to the scene on the run. … During the mill, Maki made his getaway, but was later arrested at the depot and [also] placed in jail by Captain Beatty.Weather too much money in their pockets or pickaxes in their hands, miners work in one of the most dangerous occupations, a fact documented too frequently in the pages of our newspapers 100 years ago.Yesterday, shortly after noon, the people of Aspen were shocked by the news that Patrick Riley had been killed while working his lease on the Good Thunder mine at Tourtelotte park. … Mr. Riley was in the bottom of the shaft loading the bucket from a chute that connected with the lease ground about thirty feet above. The work progressed through the morning hours until shortly before 11 o’clock, when the chute became choked. [Other miners] attempted to loosed the blockade, when without warning the chute boxing, a framework, broke and the ore rushed down upon Riley and, filling the shaft, covered him to a depth of several feet. …Soon after the accident every man in the park was on the ground and many willing hands were added to the work of rescue. But not until 3 o’clock was the body reached and brought to the surface to the arms of his grief-stricken wife and his sorrowing friends.

Several days later the paper reported,Yesterday morning several miners came near being killed while working in Homestead mine.The men were working in the lower level, where the rich ore was recently uncovered, not suspecting that death lurked above them in the workings from the upper level. … An old stope, about sixty feet long [between the two levels being excavated], contained about 15,000 cubic feet of water, being filled to the tunnel level. The weight of this body of water broke through the wall and rushed down upon the eight or nine miners while at work.The water came with such force that the men were hurled with large rocks, timbers, etc., toward the shaft, a distance of 160 feet. … Fortunately all the men saved themselves from being hurled into the shaft and by swimming made their way to the manway where they either caught the ladder themselves or were pulled on by those who had succeeded in getting out of the water. …As soon as all had come out of the Cowenhaven tunnel [see photo], through which the Homestead is worked, the injured were conveyed to Citizen’s hospital, where they received medical attention. …All the miners caught in the accident are unanimous in their praise of Mr. D.R.C Brown’s [proprietor of the Homestead] attention to their every need or wish.In spite of such newspaper accounts, touring the mines was a popular attraction (see photos).A crowd of young folks enjoyed a sight-seeing trip through the Durant mine Monday evening.

The winter weather, momentous in a mountain town, was often front-page news.Slightly cooler weather hit Aspen with a bang Wednesday night when temperatures registered at least 20 below zero. … Aspen has had snow nearly every day the past two weeks with a total depth of 19 inches on the level in Aspen. Our readers must remember that our weather recording measures snow that is unprotected from the sun. … The north face of Aspen mountain is Aspen’s perfect refrigerator for keeping good skiing snow.

The community and its newspaper were justifiably proud of the Aspen High School Band (see photos).Parents and friends of the High School band enjoyed the annual mid-winter concert presented in the school last evening last Tuesday evening. Don Gustafson, director, graciously presented Supt. Elbie Gann with the baton for one number. Greg Fensinger, who has studied under world-famous Reginald Kell, was soloist for one number. The band members looked smart in their Alpine uniforms and quite “Aspenish” with one member on crutches, another with a walking cast, and a third with a limp.Fifty years ago Aspen acquired its own electric utility. The paper reported, By virtue of the election last Tuesday, the voters approved both questions on the ballot to enable the City of Aspen to float bonds for the purchase of that portion of the electric distribution system within the city limits and the hydro generating plant on Castle Creek. …Holy Cross Association members voted to approve the sale some months ago, and the scheduled transfer of the property has been set for Feb. 29. Holy Cross will have the month in which to sever the system from the lines lying outside the city.

A letter to the editor from Rob Cozen attested the Wild West still reigned in Aspen.I feel it my civic responsibility to make an open and honest statement about my horse and me riding through the Jerome Bar and Carl’s Pharmacy.First, my horse is now and has been for quite a long time an incurable alcoholic. You see, it was the horse and NOT the rider seeking libation at the Jerome.Second, when Pica (the horse) drinks, he also smokes cigars, thus our visit to Carl’s.Third, and most important, it was I who cleaned up the yellow surf at Carl’s as witnessed by a Times staff member, not their employees. So to the Carl’s staff, our apologies, and you’ll be happy to know that Pica is now in the equine division of Raleigh Hills Hospital for alcoholics.

Vail’s Blue Sky Basin has the endangered lynx, but Aspen has the snow cat. Rob Bird wrote in a letter,I have been skiing the Aspen area for the past week during which time I have seen signs posted “Caution Snow Cats May Be Encountered On Any Trail At Any Time.” Such a warning is ominous indeed.I have talked to ski instructors, lift attendants, the ski patrol and many others and no one I talked to has seen a real live snow cat. Descriptions ranged from a large white longhaired vegetarian (including fish and chicken) cat to a small striped carnivorous (except for fish and chicken) cat, possibly related to either a tiger or an alley cat.All have suggested that the snow cat is an endangered species, but I couldn’t find it on the endangered species list at the library.The only conclusion I can draw is that no one who has encountered a snow cat remains alive to tell the tale. In the event these snow cats are as dangerous as the signs would indicate, possibly addition advice should be given as to what defensive or evasive action should be taken when a real live snow cat is encountered on the trail.

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