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

Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago

September 1903

Could Aspen be in a 100-year weather cycle? The paper reported,

Aspen had a rain on Sunday and most of Sunday night. Perhaps it was that long postponed cloud burst said to have been prophesied by a palmist who was in the city formerly. On the hills about Aspen, down half way to the town, the snow fell heavily, but it soon melted.

Weather in the mountains can change quickly and drastically. Hikers, campers, hunters (and miners), beware!

A.B. Johnson returned from Rock Creek on Monday. He had been up in the snow and by the time he reached Aspen his eyes were hurting him terribly. Last evening it was reported that he was unable to see anything. It is to be hoped that he will recover his sight speedily.

The “City Briefs” noted,

Snow! … The beautiful snow! … It’s an unwelcome visitor. … That road [Lincoln Gulch] will never be built now.

Yesterday after the reporter was startled by a loud crash and a sound like escaping steam down toward the fire station. … It seems that the wind storm had pulled the tin roof of the old Clarendon hotel loose and was engaged in the pleasing occupation of rolling it up into a wad. It made a good deal of noise but the damage done was not sufficient to cause the Insurance agents any great inward pain.

Horrible accidents in the mines were frequent and often deadly. Under the headline “Death” was the following story.

Last night at about 11:30, word was received in town that James T. Crozier, one of the old timers in Aspen, had been asphyxiated by gas in the Smuggler, and that George Ties was overcome at the same time. Investigation proved that it was true,

At 9 o’clock the men were talking to the watchman who warned them of the danger from gas. They took it lightly and said they would look out for that. They then went into the tunnel level to resume their work of bringing out the ore.

As they did not return the watchman became uneasy … It was about 10 o’clock when he found them. Crozier lay on top of Ties by the side of the track. … Both men were breathing when they were taken out, but all the efforts of the doctor to restore Crozier were unavailing.

Ties was taken to the hospital and cared for by the physician. … he soon rallied from the effects of the gas but he is suffering from a severe compound fracture of his right leg just above the ankle. It is variously stated that this was received by the crushing of a car rolling over his ankle as he lay on the track, and that it was broken while he was being taken to the surface in the cage.

The following day, the Times reported,

Yesterday morning, before the people of Aspen had recovered from the tragic death of Crozier, word was received that Pat McKenna had drilled into a missed shot and was torn to pieces by the terrible blast that followed.

The accident occurred at about 9:30 in the morning. The new shift had come on and were in a hurry; the last shift had fired a round of holes and evidently missed one. … They started to drill in the missed shot hole. A moment later and the explosion came.

McKenna was standing in front of the hole. He was mangled horribly and died instantly. If he made a sound it was lost in the deafening roar that followed.

September 1953

Today and 50 years ago or whenever, schoolteachers have gone above and beyond the call of curricular duty. Under a photo of a short and squat bus was this description,

Here is the new 30-passenger Ford school bus purchased by the school board for the transportation of Aspen school district pupils for the coming year. The bus will be driven by Lowell Elisha, one of the new teachers this year. His route will be over McLain Flats road to the True Smith bridge, and the lower Brush Creek area and return to town.

This makes three busses now owned by the district. … a 30-passenger Ford bus almost exactly the same as the new one … will be driven by Robert Autrey … up Woody Creek road as far as Stanley Natal ranch then past Woody Creek down as far as the Gerbaz ranch to the highway and return.

The third bus, an 18-passenger Chevrolet, will be driven by Robert B. Lewis, science teacher, who will make a route up Owl Creek, over the divide into Brush Creek and thence up that valley to the Johnnie Hoaglund ranch and return.

The busses will probably also be used to take boys and girls to out-of-town football and basketball games.

More school news ran under a photo of the newly installed wood-slat awning in front of the Red Brick school on Hallam Street.

Superintendent [Elbie] Gann also reports that the first days enrollment was 200 with two additional by Wednesday afternoon. Others are expected to show up before the end of the week. …

Work on the new addition is progressing rapidly with the steel girders in place for the three classrooms.

If schoolteachers seemed cut from the same cloth, benefits and prizes 50 years ago were of different stuff.

The Basalt Band Mothers wish to thank each and every one who contributed in any way to make the Labor Day Dance and Benefit a real success. The money is to be used to purchase uniforms for the Basalt school band.

… the eight prizes were as follows: RCA portable radio donated by Clark-Steen Music Co. of Grand Junction; lamb, donated by Harald Pabst of Snowmass; 100 lbs. of sugar donated by Roaring Fork Co-op; $10.00 basket of groceries from Basalt Supply Co.; $10.00 credit slip from Basalt Sundry Co.; sheet and pillow case set from Jordan Mercantile of Carbondale; pyrex refrigerator set from United Lumber Co. of Carbondale; baby booster from Rusti-Craft of Snowmass.

The Businessman of the Week column reported improvements to a business still operating today, although sold a few years ago by the Conner family.

Among the building improvements in Aspen this summer is the addition to the filling station operated by Milton G. Conner at the corner of Main and Monarch Streets.

When the building was built four years ago … space was included for only one room for service such as washing and greasing. This summer the room to the far left was added which will be used exclusively for washing and polishing. …

Also installed this summer was a third pump and tank. … making two pumps for regular and one for ethyl gasoline.

Mr Conner, one of Aspen’s native sons, has been assisted in the operation of his Chevron station part-time by his son, Claude, who is a senior in the Aspen High school this year and full time by Ludwig Skiff.

September 1978

A new procedure for primary elections was about to be tested for the first time in 1978, with some familiar politicos in the running, The Times explained,

The September 12 primary election will mark the first time Pitkin County’s independents will vote alongside party members under the non-partisan primary concept established by the county home rule charter.

Everyone in the county, Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters, will cast ballots for the office of District Three county commissioner, where Michael Kinsley faces challenges from George Parry and Jeffrey Evans.

The non-partisan primary concept was developed by the county Home Rule Commission as a means of paring to two the number of candidates who run for a particular office in the general election, and thereby assuring that no one wins a county office with less than a clear majority of the vote. …

Kinsley, in office about three years and a strong proponent of the county’s growth control policies, will run against Parry, a business-oriented city councilman, and Evans, who has harshly criticized the county’s restrictive land-use policies … [which] “haven’t stopped growth at all. They have just made different groups compete for the same housing – to the disadvantage of the local working resident.”

The labor shortfall inspired an innovative plan which brought to Aspen in 1978 a small but reliable group of hardworking people who are citizens and business owners today.

Three Aspen condominium groups are considering importing Vietnamese refugees to provide a menial labor force, and the Aspen Meadow Lodge is already employing three Vietnamese. …

Gant manager Maynard Torchiana said he may import refugees because there is not enough labor in town to handle menial jobs, and that despite such incentives as trips to Mexico, seven dollars per hour wages and deferred rental costs, he hasn’t been able to attract enough winter help. …

He argued that he isn’t trying to take jobs away from anyone because, “If there are people who want to work locally, I haven’t seen them.”

Enrollment in the Aspen schools was also on a downward spiral. The paper reported,

Aspen Public Schools opened this week with an enrollment of 1,070 students which is a drop of 71 students from the enrollment of 1,141 students in the fall of 1977.

However, this was not as big a drop [as] last fall when the 1,141 student figure was a decrease from 1,342 students enrolled in 1976.

School officials consider that the drop in enrollment reflects a trend nationwide, and also is caused by the high real estate values in Aspen forcing people with young families to live downvalley.

In order to try to stop the outward move of Aspen schoolchildren, the school board recently adopted a policy that allows nonresident students to attend the Aspen Public Schools.

Deadheads live! Mary Eshbaugh Hayes reported in Around Aspen,

Off to Cairo, Egypt to hear The Grateful Dead play in front of The Pyramids are John Bennett, Teresa Clark, and Charlie Brown.

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