25-50-90 years ago | AspenTimes.com

25-50-90 years ago

Sara Garton

Aspen businessman Harry Koch, in the driver's seat, takes his touring car on tour. (Courtesy Aspen Historical Society)

A new automobile (see photos) in town always made the news 90 years ago. The Democrat-Times wrote,Charles Hart is driving a brand new seven-passenger Buick 1918 car, and it is sure some machine and a perfect beauty in lines and finish. With Charlie Hart at the wheel it is a swell turnout.No more lallygagging, kids, summer’s over, and it’s time for school! The paper effused,At 8:30 this morning all the sleepy-heads were aroused by the merry ringing of the school bells and it was sure a pleasant awakening – there is nothing like good schools to brush the cobwebs off of any community, and Aspen has nary a cobweb left this evening.On the minute the great bells commenced to ring, hundreds of little children and larger children left their homes, dressed in holiday attire, some carrying books and other utensils of education, some carrying none – but all were wearing that happy American smile that won’t rub off because they were about to take their places in America’s greatest institution – THE PUBLIC SCHOOL!From now on through the coming nine months all the schoolhouses throughout this broad land will be turning out education as per the rules laid down, and thousands of children, boys and girls, young men and women, will be the better equipped to face life’s battles no matter in what channel the battle must be fought.

All hail to Our American Public School system – the greatest on earth and a part and parcel, in fact the very foundation, of the Greatest Country on Earth. The paper predicted a favorable report card for the academic year, in spite of a shrinking student body.The Aspen schools are now running on schedule time and teachers and pupils are becoming acquainted and like each other very much.In the grades there are 386 pupils on the rolls of the various classes, while 91 are registered in the A.H.S., making a grand total of 477.Both teachers and pupils are showing great interest in their work and Superintendent Van Fleet believes that a banner year has opened.Another rosy picture was painted by the ultimate Aspen booster, editor Cap Dailey, as he wrote,If Aspen had another 300 more miners every one of them could be put to work today.The Smuggler and auxiliary companies could use 200 more miners and the leasers and outlying miners could use 100 more.Aspen has the miners, the prospects, the veins of ore. What she needs is more miners to work in the mines, the prospects and the veins of ore.Some of you old miners who are now living out of God’s country, put on your walking boots and hike back to your old home town.Aspen needs 300 miners – and that is the truth.Several months are missing from the microfilm of our newspapers 100 years ago. These news stories are from the 1917 Aspen Democrat-Times, as The Aspen Times and The Aspen Democrat merged in 1909. We will run excerpts from newspapers 90 years ago until the microfilm picks up again in mid-September 1907.

Aspen was a technological outpost 50 years ago, as the paper reported,Being completely TV-less, Aspen ironically will be the scene of a number of television “firsts” in mid-October.With an estimated audience of 35 million people, the National Broadcasting Company’s “Wide, Wide World” program will do half of its Oct. 13 telecast stint “live” from Aspen.

The proposed 45-minute segment of the program will be the highest land-based program ever tried and will employ more cameras and equipment than “World” has ever used to transmit a program. …A chain of specially erected towers connecting Aspen with the outside world, coordination of TV crews in Denver, Salt Lake City, Omaha and Albuquerque and a hook-up between phone lines and the network will be required to get the show onto the nation’s TV screens.According to “World” producer John Goetz, the Aspen section of the telecast will feature glimpses of Aspen Institute’s seminars for businessmen, the ski lift, the Health Center, and a chamber music group performing at the Sundeck.TV quiz kid Charles Van Doren will be here to interview Dr. Mortimer Adler, Walter Paepcke and other Aspen residents. He will feed commentary to the show’s host, Dave Garroway, in New York City. …Goetz said, “Through history the mountains have been a challenge to man. If this is true, then in America, the Rockies should be the ultimate challenge – and we want to see how the people in the Colorado mountains tick.”The Aspen Skiing Corporation would soon have some competition, the paper announced.A new half million dollar ski development less than two miles from Aspen City limits is in the advanced planning stage, it was announced yesterday by Whip Jones, local financier and motel owner.To be located both on Jones’ land and on Forest Service property, the area to be developed is on the north side of Highland Mountain near the west edge of Aspen. …Present plans call for a lift having a 3,000-foot vertical rise with a length of slightly over 15,000 feet. Also planned are a short beginners’ lift, a 10-acre parking lot, a bottom restaurant and a top-terminal cafe, plus a ski shop and ski school meeting place near the bottom terminal. …If approval is forthcoming from the government, clearing work and lift foundations will be started next summer, with final construction slated to be completed by the fall of 1959.

An editorial exclaimed, “Children Must Be Protected,”During the past year the City Council has received several requests concerning the Glory Hole [see photo]. This huge trough in the ground at the southeast edge of town is owned by the city. Varied in nature, the petitions have covered such topics as sale of the land, maintenance of the street, which is supposed to traverse the area, and more adequate safety measures for the water-filled cavity.Following each request the aldermen have agreed that something should be done about the area, but each time they have rediscovered that they are unable to act because no accurate survey of the locale exists, and no one knows the exact limits of the city-owned property. Today the Glory Hole is still unsurveyed and the various petitions concerning it unanswered. … Sooner or later our august aldermen will manage to concentrate on one subject long enough to obtain the necessary information.In the interim, however, a real and immediate danger exists.The bottom of the jagged hole, formed when underlying mine tunnels collapsed and roughly 150 feet wide and 100 feet deep, is covered with water. Although no longer used as a city dump, it is lined with debris and the water covered with a conglomeration of old boards, cardboard boxes, paper, rusty cans and an occasional dead rat. It cannot be called a pretty sight. …No matter how often mothers caution, or how many signs the city posts, children are bound to play near the area. To them the rough banks are adventuresome and glamorous playgrounds. … One slip while on the edge and any person, even an adult, could roll and bounce into the water below. Perhaps they could scramble back out, perhaps they could not. …Unlike the question of a survey, which can be postponed from week to week and month to month, the danger to children presented by the Glory Hole cannot be ignored.

Same old, same old, as The Aspen Times reported,Use of the city’s Thomas Property west of Castle Creek for a highway right of way will be placed on the special opera house election ballot, it was decided by the City Council at a special meeting last Friday. …[A] busway task force had recommended use of two, one-way, two-lane highway approaches to the city, one along the existing highway and a second to extend west from Main Street.Use of this highway alignment would mean a new bridge at the end of Main Street and a highway extension through the Marolt Ranch and Thomas Property.[County Engineer Pat] Dobie reminded the council that if the highway department did not get a clear opinion from the city and county what they wanted for the highway, it would continue to build as its budget allowed from Carbondale south. Peter Forsch, Ski Company transportation director, told the council that the two curves on the highway at Main and at Hallam were not only dangerous but detrimental to bus flow in the winter, causing unpleasant delays for winter visitors, and urged the council to notify the highway department of its support for the new roadway.Mayor Herman Edel said he felt the two two-lane roads “made short-term as well as long-term sense,” but reminded the others that a recently approved charter amendment required voter approval of any change in use for city-owned open space.[Councilman] Dick Knecht said he was against a straight highway shot into Aspen which would “make the highway and the town more urban and detract from the resort experience.”Edel reminded the others that [the City Council] had already approved the highway entrance and busway plan by a 4-to-1 margin. …After additional discussion it was decided to place the use of open space for a highway ROW question on the Nov. 2 special election ballot and to notify the state highway department of the City Council’s approval for the highway plan.