Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago

July 1903

After much anticipation and hype, the Fourth of July in Aspen received rave reviews.

The Fourth just passed will furnish a topic for conversation for many years. People will say when the subject is mentioned: “Yes, but you should have seen Aspen on the Fourth in 1903.” It was a cracker-jack, a bellypop and a hummer.



Of course for some the holiday was more of a bummer than a hummer. The Times wrote,




Yesterday morning during the parade, Hawkins’ ice wagon horses took fright and dashed down the narrow alley back of the post office. There was considerable excitement at the time but fortunately the team kept in the middle of the alley and not even a block of ice was dislodged and not a particle of damage was done. …

Charles Huff, whose eye was badly injured by the unexpected explosion of a giant firecracker on the night of the Fourth, is recovering rapidly. … William West was severely burned on the hand during the celebration, by the explosion of some fireworks. It is believed that he will not suffer the loss of any of his fingers, as was first feared.

The demise of mining was just around the corner in 1903, as evidenced by these “rumors,”

It was rumored yesterday that the men at the Newman had been ordered out. Again it was reported that the mine had been shut down by the officials. Inquiry failed to elicit any definite information beyond the option that both rumors were premature. …

It was reported last night that two hundred men would be laid off the Durant today. The Times trusts that the report is not correct.

A sure sign of summer: Watermelon.

Last night the reporter found two immense watermelons on his desk. A note upon them stated that they were grown from Rocky Ford seed, although they were green on the outside, they were ripe and delicious under the rind. They came from S.B. Clark and the force returns thanks to him for the courtesy and the melons. They were enough to make the mouth of Deacon Jones water.

Aspen ashamed of the Jerome? Not any more. The Times wrote,

The Jerome is now in good shape. All of the rooms have been cleaned and renovated and refurnished. But one remains which has not been wholly fixed up. The dining room force has been considerably augmented and the service is being improved steadily. It is already a house of which the citizens need not be ashamed.

Bike races are a dime a dozen these days. One hundred years ago, though, they were big doings. The Times reported,

July 25 from Basalt to Glenwood will be given the sixth annual bicycle road race under the auspices of the Glenwood Wheel club. These races are not only of interest to the riders, but have always attracted a large number of spectators. Without extra charge you ride along the track and see the ride as from start to finish.

July 1953

Jim Hayes is an Aspen legend. Fifty years ago, he was just making a name for himself as “Business of the Week.”

Texas was too hot, and New York City was too hot and crowded, so after coming to Aspen on a ski trip in 1950 and discovering how cool and small townish it is, Jim Hayes decided to stay here and set up his Silvercraft Shop. …

In the fall of 1950, Jim opened Aspen Silvercraft in the Golden Horn building. The business specializes in handmade jewelry in silver and gold; persons can make up their own sketch and Jim will turn them into metal.

This spring the business was moved from the Horn to the Craft Center in the old Assay building on Galena street.

Jim was married in April of this year to Miss Mary Eshbaugh and they make their home on Monarch street.

Fire season was well under way in July 1953, as evidenced by these reports,

A forest fire was reported last Friday at about 4 p.m. when Ray Maxwell saw smoke near the Homestake mine at the west edge of the city at the very foot of the mountain.

Mr. Maxwell drove immediately to the ranger station and Ranger Gay Weidenhaft took hand pumps to the scene and with help began spraying the fire that was burning on the ground. A little later the fire would have reached pine trees and a real blaze might have started but for the prompt attention given. …

Last Monday the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department made two runs, the first about 4:00 in the afternoon to a house on West Main Street (Sheehan house) owned by Mary Street and under lease to the Aspen Company.

Burning soot coming out the chimney caused alarm and the department was notified. There was no damage.

The second run was made about 5:00 to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Friedl Pfeifer. Burning soot in their oil furnace caused smoke to come out of the chimney when there wasn’t supposed to be any fire going. No damage was sustained.

The beginning of the paving of Aspen …

The Aspen City Council at a recent meeting called to consider final action on its study of the dust control problem, voted to purchase 10,000 gallons of emulsified asphalt. This decision was reached after investigating the use of this material in other communities, since asphalt of this type has been used successfully in recent years on an experimental basis for dust controlling. In the past few years the Aspen Chamber of Commerce has sponsored a program for this same purpose by use of crude oil, which was applied to the streets after being heated and with regular road oiling equipment. In considering the dust problem this year the city council came to the same conclusion that the use of crude oil was too costly and too temporary to expend city funds on, having decided that it would be better to save such funds to start a permanent surfacing on the streets.

July 1978

The Times was no longer the only game in town as the “Aspen Daily News begins” topped local headlines,

Dave Danforth, Lee Duncan and Mark Shaw began publication of the Aspen Daily News July 1.

The single-page give-away carries advertisements for a couple of dozen Aspen businesses and about the same number of short bulletins.

The news items range from local to international, from sports to the weather.

The publishers plan to print the Daily News Monday through Friday and hope it will grow larger.

The county’s “anti-coke” campaign had a few noses out of joint 25 years ago.

County Manager George Ochs was only trying to protect government employees from the sugar and chemicals when he announced recently that the pop machine was going to be taken out of the courthouse.

Ochs changed his mind, however, when nearly 100 of those employees, including a district judge, a county judge, six sheriff’s deputies, the building inspector, county clerk, a county commissioner, a deputy district attorney, the acting district attorney, county and city attorneys, and county housing director signed a petition of protest.

“We respect your right to choose not to consume sugar in the form of soft drinks yourself,” the petition read, “but we wish that you’ll respect our right to make that decision for ourselves.”

The Sal A Mander saga continued …

Another legal step was taken this week to clear the way for Aspen’s favorite lizard, Sal A Mander, in his campaign for Governor of Colorado.

His creator and alter ego, photographer-cartoonist Chris Cassatt, changed his legal voting registration on July 5 from Chris Cassatt to Sal A Mander. This followed a legal name change from CC to SAM in District Court.

This is all to legalize the lizard, who didn’t want to run into previous campaign problems, … the time he ran for Sheriff of Pitkin County and received 40 votes, and the time he ran for Mayor of Aspen and received 57 votes. He could only garner write-in votes in those elections because he couldn’t get on the ballot because he wasn’t a “real person.”

“I’m as real as anybody,” keeps insisting Sal.

After all was said and done, the Fourth of July 1978 was a success. The editors of the Times’ offered these words of thanks,

The Fourth of July has come and gone; the city has survived intact; and we feel that, all in all, congratulations are in order.

While the city council’s decision to cancel almost all official celebrations may have seemed extreme at first, the results indicate it was the right thing to do.

There were no unpleasant incidents to mar the holiday, few if any arrests were made, and when it was all over there was almost no trash scattered through the streets and parks. …

When a parade spontaneously arose and wandered through the streets without any of the usually required permissions and permits, the police wisely let it continue on its way, recognizing it for what it was: a harmless and entirely appropriate expression of the holiday spirit.

For some residents the holiday might have been dull, but for most it was an opportunity to celebrate a truly “old fashioned American” Fourth of July, a peaceful day of picnics, parties and backyard barbeques.


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