25-50-90 years ago

Sara Garton
A Colorado & Southern Railroad boxcar provided a good view for spectators who watched elk being unloaded at the base of Smuggler Mountain in 1914. (Courtesy Aspen Historical Society)

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 June 1907. Aspen re-established elk in the Roaring Fork Valley in 1914 (see photos). The Aspen Democrat Times reports about “Another Shipment of Elk to Colorado.”Through the cooperation of the Nederland fish and game club, the Burlington railroad, and local forest service officials, a shipment of 50 elk from Gardner, Mont., has just been placed in the vicinity of Nederland. The elk were liberated in the mountains south of Nederland, and together with the few already there will establish a nucleus herd which should re-stock the excellent elk ranges in that vicinity. …This makes a total of 325 elk that various communities and clubs in Colorado working with the forest service and the Denver & Rio Grande, Colorado Midland, Burlington, and Colorado & Southern railroads have transplanted from the region of the Yellowstone national park to different parts of the state.Newspaper editor Charles Dailey was ready to throw in the towel in urging city officials to call a regular municipal election for April 3. He wrote in disgust,

That the city election is off for this year is now a real fact as Section 2144 of the Election Law states positively that a notice of election shall be published “AT LEAST FIFTEEN DAYS” before an election is held.This is the fifteenth day and no notice is or has been published as far as any one can notice.To say that things are being carried on pretty smooth is putting it mildly, all of which is possible because of the lack of civic interest of the people of our home town. Don’t kick because it is your fault as much as any one’s – don’t forget that.The Democrat-Times has done its best to get an election – an election where the people could express their wishes at the polls free and untrammeled.For this we have been accused of boosting for an election simply because it means a hundred or so dollars to us in legal printing. All may think that or not, just as they please, it matters not to the proprietor of this paper. However, a lead story the following day gleefully announced an election and a slate of candidates, with one who had an obvious conflict of interest.For Mayor – STANLEY WATTFor City Clerk – CHARLES DAILEYFor City Treasurer – HENRY GILBERTFor Alderman, First Ward – W.D. SCHOFIELDJ.B. SWANSONFor Alderman, Second Ward – W.D. BECKDR. F.N. BREWSTERAnd Aspen is going to have an election and there is no crimping nor euchering of the people’s right of franchise. …The ticket appearing at the head of this column will appear on the ballot and this ticket only, as no other ticket has been filed and it is now too late to nominate any other candidates for the various city offices. …The Citizens’ Ticket is composed of splendid citizens (we are not expressing any self-esteem for the city clerk as he won’t last long in the office – he must resign after election, if elected) and will give our city a clean, honorable administration of its affairs. … A new broom sweeps clean, you know, and the Citizens’ Ticket will be the new broom.

Spring skiing, high season for tourists, almost didn’t happen on Aspen Mountain 50 years ago, the paper reported,After an eight-day shutdown, Aspen’s renowned big lift began its infinite trundling again yesterday [March 20, 1957] about noon.The costly breakdown occurred Tuesday, March 12, when a vital pinion gear at the top of the first section of the world’s longest chairlift snapped a tooth. …Big lift operations were brought to a complete halt while the Aspen Ski Corporation awaited arrival of a new gear from a Philadelphia plant. …During the shutdown, skiers were forced to hike up Spar Gulch from the top of the Little Nell lift to the bottom of the double chairlift.A “snow cat” was pressed into service last Thursday to assist climbers.Informed sources estimate the total loss in business income throughout Aspen during the shutdown at roughly $1 million.Furious with the Ski Corp.’s perceived mismanagement of the lift breakdown and poor attitude, Bil Dunaway minced no words in the conclusion of his weekly editorial. Seemingly more aware of their power than their responsibilities, the Ski Corporation has traditionally operated in a cavalier manner. Owned for the most part by non-Aspenites, the Corporation has proved to be a business bonanza and as the revenues increase, the situation seems to become increasingly intolerable.This latest blooper proves on thing: neither Aspenites nor visiting skiers can count on anything from the Aspen Ski Corporation. When the lift runs, we can count our lucky stars. When it doesn’t, we can simply chalk it up to another ridiculous mistake to businessmen who, operating this way, wouldn’t survive for a year in any ordinary business.Local investors in the Ski Corp. confronted the board members, and the Times reported,Dissatisfaction with the present management, as well as a desire of assuring closer cooperation between the corporation and the town were expressedby local stockholders of the Aspen Skiing Corp. at a special meeting Wednesday, March 20. Forty-two stockholders attending the noon meeting at Mario’s restaurant, presided over by County Commissioner Tom Sardy, voted unanimously to censure corporation officials for mismanagement. …Also adopted by the stockholders was a motion to form a special five-man advisory committee to transmit the suggestions made at the meeting to the corporation board of directors. Named to the committee were Freidl Pfeifer, chairman, Ellie Bealmear, secretary, John Doremus, Dr. Robert Barnard and Sam Caudill. Among other resolutions adopted by the assembled stockholders was one requesting the corporation to move its practicing management from Denver to Aspen. Another [resolution] requested the directors to increase their number from 11 to 20 and fill the vacancies with stockholders from AspenIn a column titled “In Times Past,” an item about “The Day On The Ice” was republished.Sunday eclipsed all other days at Stillwater on the river. The skating, too, was fine and there were few who did not take a trip for miles up the river. But it was at the lower end where the main crowd congregated and where the most fun was to be had. It seemed that half the town was out for a few hours that day. There was someone constantly coming and going, and the road to town was lined with carriages and pedestrians. Many came out to watch but this is poor enjoyment compared to gliding on the ice.

The Aspen Times reported a story 25 years ago that is retold in 2007.Astounded by the implications of a request by a state legislator for lists of textbooks and other educational materials used in the Aspen Public Schools. The school board chose to ignore the demand.

Superintendent of schools Ann Freers told the school board that she, along with the other superintendents of Colorado’s 181 school districts, had received a letter from Republican Representative Robert Stephenson of Colorado Springs, asking for a list of all curriculum materials. …

Stephenson told the Denver Post that he wanted lists of curriculum materials so he could send them to Mel and Norma Galbler, a Longview, Texas, couple who review such materials for a Fundamentalist nonprofit organization. Stephenson has said that he will ask the Colorado Legislature to withhold state funding from school districts that the Gablers say are using obscene and other objectionable materials.The paper announced a longtime Aspenite, already a member of the National Ski Hall of Fame, was about to become a member of the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. Dick Durrance, one of the best skiers in America and a major influence on skiing in Aspen, has been named to the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the hall in a ceremony in Denver on March 29. …In 1940, one of his best racing years, Durrance won the amateur and open National Championships in downhill, slalom and combined and won the Harriman Cup for the third time, giving him permanent possession of the prestigious trophy (a feat not duplicate d until nearly 20 years later). …

After two years working at ski design in Denver (when he designed one of the first prototypes for the history-making Head metal skis), Durrance moved to Aspen, where he became vice president and general manager for the recently formed Aspen Ski Corporation.During his tenure with the Ski Corp. he expanded the Aspen Mountain ski area tremendously, cutting a number of new trails, including Ruthie’s Run.Durrance was also responsible for bringing the 1950 FIS championships to Aspen, the first international races ever held here and a big step toward establishing Aspen as a major ski area.Durrance was also a member of the organizing committee and served as chief of race for all the alpine skiing events in the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley.In recent years he has devoted his time to filmmaking, traveling around the world from his Colorado home base.A nice present for spring-skiing was announced in The Aspen Times.Responding to a season-long slump in the sale of lift tickets, the Aspen Skiing Company this week announced a major late-season discount on the price of multi-day lift tickets, bringing the cost of riding the lifts to as low as $15 a day. …The discounts will be advertised by the Ski Company on the East Coast, in the Midwest and in Texas in hopes of influencing last-minute vacation decisions and boosting Aspen’s end-of-season occupancy rates from the predicted 35-50 percent.According to Ski Co Public Relations Director Jack Brendlinger, ticket sales this winter are running about 20 percent lower than the winter of 1979-80.


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