JUNE 1929Though the opening of Independence Pass for the season is welcomed by Aspenites each year, it will never be as exciting as it was 75 years ago. The Times reported under a banner headline that read, Two Weeks Before Pass Is Opened,Tuesday our county commissioners motored over Independence Highway as far as the County Cabin above the old town of Independence, and right there is where they stopped, being blocked by much snow.Wednesday Commissioner Brown and Road Overseer Hendricks motored to the County Cabin and from there rode Shanks Mares on up over the top. They report that the highway is blocked by snowslide after snowslide and drift upon drift.Today Overseer Hendricks will start shooting the slides and drifts, and this way break them up for the shovelers.Along about Saturday, June 16th, will be Good Roads Day at which all able bodied men will be cordially invited to help make a passable roadway through the snow that autos may roll back and forth Over the Top.The Times went on to publish an account by Professor E. Davenport of his several journeys over the pass. Over Independence Pass By Burro!Now We Have a Splendid Highway and the Motorist Driving Over It Will See the Grandest Scenery to Be Encountered In the Rocky Mountains or Any Other Mountains.The Best Handicraft of the Great CreatorThe motoring public owes a deep debt of gratitude to the citizens of Colorado for their enterprise and foresightedness in constructing a modern first-class highway over one of the most superb passes, and along two of the most picturesque valleys, in all the heart of the Rockies. Nothing in America is finer.My party of six, including four ladies, went over the pass first in 1918, and again two years later in 1920, trampng the entire distance from Twin lakes to Aspen, with all supplies in burro train. …… it is suggested that the motorist should not whiz by, and if he does that he return for a more leisurely trip, passing one night on the east side at Bromley, one at Independence, and if possible one at the Devils Punch Bowl. At Aspen he will find the Hotel Jerome a most comfortable and desirable place in which to rest up … he will find one of the finest towns with the best of riding and tramping leading from it in every direction a town full of the best people, and the best of eating with an appetite to match. Talk about multitasking …Lloyd Ward has accepted the position of assistant lineman for the Roaring Fork Water, Light & Power company. You should see the judge shinning up a pole and poking his head in between the high voltage wires, with Doo on the ground yelling instructions.JUNE 1954The perpetrator of The first armed robbery in Aspen within the memory of many of the old timers was not long at large.Carence McKinney, 21, was taken before Justice of Peace Ruby Bandy and charged with armed robbery last Monday. It was alleged that he was the armed holpup man who robbed the Hotel Jerome of nearly $800 at four oclock Memorial Day morning. …McKinney was picked up in Craig where he went to live after leaving Aspen last week. Apparently water rationing in the Roaring Fork Valley is nothing new. Of course the penalty for breaking the law 50 years was much stiffer than it is today. The Times announced,Because of abnormal usage of water above the capacity of our transmission and distribution system and in order to insure all customers an equitable share of available water as required by the public utilities commission of Colorado, it is necessary to have restrictions of water use for irrigation purposes. …… Violations of the above restrictions will be penalized by immediate disconnection of water service and forfeiture of any amount paid for service.Before catch-and-release restrictions were reinstated, all local wildlife officials could do to save some of the areas smaller trout was to ask:John D. Hart, department assistant director of the State Game and Fish department, advises fishermen that while the legal size limit on trout has been abolished and fishermen are allowed to keep any fish they catch, care should be used in returning small fish to the water so they will remain alive and in good condition.Bears make headlines in Aspen on an almost daily basis these days, but in 1954 they were in the news for another reason. The Times reported,The grizzly bear, one of Americas most picturesque and dangerous game animals, and once numerous in Colorado where it is now threatened with extinction, is to receive protection in this state. The Colorado Game and Fish commission has set aside an area on top of the Continental Divide, in portions of Hinsdale, La Plata and San Juan counties, in the San Juan and Rio Grande National forests to be known as the San Juan – Rio Grande Bear Management area, where grizzlies are to be protected. …Federal and state officials estimate there are now only 12 to 20 grizzlies left in Colorado. … Thomas L. Kimball, director of the Colorado Game and Fish department, said: We feel that we are fulfilling our obligations under the law to protect and save from extinction all species of wildlife … by setting up this management area. It will not only protect the grizzly from extinction but will provide protection for livestock growers within the area by permitting the live trapping or removal of grizzlies and other bear molesting livestock within the area.JUNE 1979Perhaps there should have been the Astroturf-on-Wagner-Park discussion in 1979,Wagner Park looks more like a wasteland than a mountain meadow this summer and, unfortunately, according to city officials, its likely to stay that way. Suffering from heavy use and a curious mistake last spring which saw a truck-load of rock spread on the ground instead of topsoil, the park was slated for a thick layer of peat this spring. However, area peat supplies were buried by the heavy snow last winter and arent available just yet, so Wagner will have to wait until fall for its facelift.Now a part of mountain culture, the Ski Safety Act became law 25 years ago. The Times reported,The much-debated, much-anticipated Colorado Ski Safety Act of 1979 finally became law last week when Governor Lamm affixed his signature to the bottom of the long awaited bill.In the works for nearly two years, the bill was originally prompted by a rash of multimillion dollar lawsuits filed against ski areas by skiers who had been seriously injured in on-slope crashes. The new law aims at establishing guidelines for determining who is to blame (skier or ski area) for ski accidents and injuries.It seems budget cuts at the local schools have always raised the ire of parents. The Times wrote,Teachers and parents protested cutbacks in the foreign language program at Aspen High School and Middle School and they protested changes in scheduling at the middle school during the regular meeting of the school board on June 4. …The jocks and jockettes here at The Aspen Times would agree with this proclamation.When does summer in Aspen officially begin?Some might say summer starts with the opening of the Design Conference or the Music Festival. Others might claim it begins right after the last of the traditional June snowstorms.But for all of Aspens dyed in the wool jocks and jockettes, theres no question that summer began at 5:30 p.m. this Monday with the opening of the softball season.With 54 teams competing in five different divisions of mens and womens leagues, there are roughly 1,000 Aspenites directly involved in the mid-summer madness.
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I try to remember to give thanks every day I spend outside, whether it be floating the Colorado or Roaring Fork, fishing an epic dry fly hatch on the Fryingpan, or teasing up tiny brook trout on a remote lake or stream. We’re spoiled rotten here, so it’s easy to be thankful.