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

Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago

August 1903

Today, wildfires make headlines; 100 years ago, mine fires were in the news, including this ongoing blaze,

The fire broke out at the Smuggler with renewed energy yesterday and this time the smoke poured out of the Cowenhoven tunnel in a dense volume. It seems to be filled with deadly gases and the smoke alone is so dense that it would kill a man in a few minutes. No life could exist in that volume of terrible smoke and gas. It shot out of the tunnel for a distance of almost fifty feet along the ground before it rose into the air. The authorities at the mine are of the opinion that they can conquer it in time, but for the present the men cannot go to work.

Of course those fighting the mine fires weren’t going to be without entertainment. The Times noted,

The fire company has made arrangements to secure all of the latest popular magazines and plenty of good reading will now be on hand constantly to amuse and interest the boys who fight the fires.

Attack of “subdued” bees?

Yesterday a lot of bees came from somewhere and settled on the fence across the street from the residence of John Canning. They covered the upper rail of the fence solidly and swarmed there in a black bunch the size of a water bucket. W.H. Corthell raises bees and decided that they were his, as some had deserted him not long ago. He procured a sheet and laid it on the ground below them. Then he gently scraped them off the fence and pushed them backwards, down into the cloth. On the under side of the fence he used a knife and scraped them off skillfully. They made no attempt to sting him and accompanied him back home without more than a subdued murmur.

Aspen was raging in 1903. The Times wrote,

This young people of the town have found the present week an enjoyable one. A dance every night is pretty plenty, even in Aspen.

So you think it’s hot in Aspen this summer? Apparently they thought the same 100 years ago.

Those who have been back east laugh when Aspenites say this is hot weather. One of those who visited the Atlantic seaboard recently said to the pencil shover yesterday: “If you call this hot, you ought to be in New York. When your clothes stick to you and pop up when you pull them away from your body, you can call it hot – but not before.”

This week’s Aspen Times Weekly cover story looks at rodeo in the Roaring Fork Valley. In 1903, the rodeo was also making headlines.

A goodly number of people attended the bronco bustin contest at Wild Cat Sunday, where the cowboys rode for the fun of the thing. A particularly savage set of horses had been secured. The riders were Frank Connors, Fraser, Flynn, Mapes, Goodrich, Kobey and Thomson. The college boy’s riding elicited much applause. He did well in the saddle and did not “pull stick.”

August 1953

The rodeo was making headlines 50 years ago, but with a different, more controversial angle.

The Aspen Silver Stampede will be held Saturday and Sunday, August 29 and 30 as originally scheduled in spite of seeming opposition from Post and News (Denver dailies) designated culture groups.

The protest from Institute officials came after the first announcement that a rodeo was scheduled for that weekend by the Aspen Bridle and Saddle Club. At an information meeting at the Golden Horn of about 40 interested citizens, Mr. Walter Paepcke explained that his opinion was that while the Institute was still small and running a whopping deficit each year that it was unwise to split the crowd and consequently the box office receipts.

Mr. Paepcke said that the one rodeo would not be so bad but that if we as a community supported this event and others sure to follow that it would be a slow nibbling away of the force of the effect of the Institute music program. He said that Aspen would have to decide what was most important and stick to it 100% as a community.

The Thursday noon meeting ended with the promise that if the Aspen Saddle and Bridle Club held the rodeo on the days indicated that it would not interfere with the concert hour.

Books about Aspen are a dime-a-dozen these days, but in 1953 they were still big news. The Times reported,

Miss Caroline Bancroft spent a number of days in town last week, gathering material for a new booklet on Aspen. The previous edition of “Famous Aspen” (of which there were 5,000 copies printed by The Aspen Times two years ago) is now nearly exhausted. Continuing interest by the tourists in the former Crystal City warrants a new version.

The forthcoming booklet will be called “Scenic Aspen” and will be illustrated with new photographs. The contemporary set will be supplied by Franz Berko and the old-time set by John Herron, both citizens consistent in their civic support of enterprises that enhance the town.

On another book-related note,

Of interest to local people as well as the many readers of Colliers magazine is the fact that appearing in the August 21st issue of that magazine, Luke Short has the first part of a four-part serial entitled “Silver Rock.”

A small article in the forepart of the magazine will carry a picture of Luke Short (Fred Glidden to Aspenites) by Patrick Henry and the following:

“Luke Short advises us that having lived in just such a place as the fictional town of Azurite, it seemed inevitable he’d write a yarn with old Colorado diggings as background. So, Silver Rock, which begins in this issue, has in it a bit of Aspen (Where Luke now resides), plus Silverton, Ashcroft and Ouray.”

August 1978

Local gadfly Jeffrey Evans has been making waves since he first arrived in town, as evidenced by this article,

Jeff Evans, who last week announced his candidacy for the county commissioner seat held by Michael Kinsley, thinks that there is a great danger the community will lose its depth and become “a haven for the rich and rootless.”

Evans is particularly critical of what he calls the “negative and emotional land use policy.”

He came to Pitkin County from Ventura County, north of Los Angeles, to visit a friend in 1970, and has been here ever since.

“I was attracted,” Evans said, “because at that time a four-lane highway was being put in at home and they were ripping out lemon and orange orchards.”

The four-laning debate begins …

Dear Editor:

Last week’s answers to What Do You Think almost made me cry (or laugh or even puke).

A four lane bike path from Aspen to Glenwood. Yeah! And an extra lane for unicycles and one for skateboards. No, why not close Independence Pass and just reserve it for skateboards?

A four lane would encourage more traffic?! Baloney! If somebody made up his mind to drive to Aspen he will come whether there is a four lane highway or a gravel road. Or does somebody think one would make a U-turn after the divided highway ends near Carbondale and then goes to Vail, because there is a four lane?

Why would a four lane (and more safe) highway with its beautiful and generous laid out curves look less attractive and less “aesthetic” than a single highway? Besides, a sculpture from Michelangelo might look aesthetic but a highway not necessarily has to.


Sepp Uhl

Aspen, Colorado

And the housing debate continued …

Although it spent another two hours at a study session Monday discussion local housing, Aspen’s City Council could not make up its mind whether a problem exists or what to do about it if it does.

However, it was an apparent consensus during the discussion that some housing controls were needed to insure compliance by applicants receiving housing points under the growth management plan or housing density bonuses under existing zoning regulations.

It was also apparent that Housing Director Mark Danielson was correct in his statement that more detailed information is needed about the amount of housing available and the number of employees that need, or can afford, it.

Some things never change: The post office as a place to see and be seen, having a P.O. box is cool, and Terry Trish is making the mailman rounds.

Aspen has had mail delivery for three years … but according to the mailmen, only a fraction of Aspenites are using the service.

Aspen’s mailmen are Bradley Griggs, Jack Harris and Terry Trish. They stopped by the Aspen Times this week on their lunch hour and told us that when the mail delivery service was instigated, a survey was done of prospective customers.

“The survey showed that 70 to 80% of the people in the delivery area said they wanted delivery,” they said, “but we have only from 25 to 35% actually using it. …”

“We know that lots of Aspenites are post office box freaks. There is a certain prestige to having a low post office box number. People don’t want to give up the tradition of going to the post office every day and seeing everyone in town.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User