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

Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago

May 1903

A flash flood, a washed-out bridge and an approaching train combined for a near disaster outside of Basalt, as the Times reported.

Last evening at 6:30 a cloud burst up at the head of what is known as Toner creek, three and a half miles up from Basalt. Four or five boys were camped up the dry bed [o]f the creek and they heard the rush and roar of the coming flood.

They ran at the top of their speed down to the mouth of the creek. One of the boys was the son of an engineer and he stood there, waiting for No. 5 to come around the point of rocks and plunge into the seething flood which filled the creek and had already carried away the track and bridge like straws.

They were on the west side and could do nothing. Luckily the track walker had just crossed the bridge before the flood came down. He too heard the roar and turned back to see what was the matter. And he was just in time to stop the train, but he was not a moment too soon.

The engine stopped right on the edge of the broken track, the pony truck over the edge of the water. So high was the water that it swept up and around the locomotive and piled mud and logs over it and the baggage car. …

It is understood that at the crossing of the road in the gulch the water was twenty feet deep for over half an hour. …

At midnight the bed of the ravine down which destruction rushed was almost dry again.

Aspenites today head to Fruita and Moab for spring biking trips; a hundred years ago, two intrepid Aspenites also set out on a spring cycling excursion.

On Wednesday morning Ted Cooper and “Doc” Parsons expect to mount their trusty steeds of steel and rubber, and hie themselves away for a trip through the southern part of Colorado and over the territory of New Mexico. They will go over the range, at the exact spot where the Taylor Park railway will cross it, and journey into Gunnison down Taylor river. Thence they will probably hit the road between Gunnison and Montrose and Delta. Thence they will aim toward Ouray and Telluride. After viewing the wonders there they will coast down the Rio Las Animas canon to Durango. They may go toward Cortez for the sake of having a squint at the ruins of the Aztecs, and finally they will pursue their weary way through foot-deep sand to Farmington, Aztec and the other little towns in northern New Mexico. … Ted is accustomed to trips of this nature and can tell “Doc” how to curl up his toes in his blanket to keep warm when they sleep out in the snowdrifts about Silverton.

Well before the days of “Dear Abby,” the Times saw fit to offer this commentary on marriage.

Hardly a week passes that we do not read in some of the papers of some young lady who has decided that she will have her own way in the choice of a husband, who casts off the suggestions of her parents and goes her own course recklessly. In some few cases she may hit it right, but in a majority of instances she makes the mistake her parents feared and her life is ruined.

Many parents are puzzled and astounded that the girl whom they have reared carefully and educated with a lavish expenditure of money should not have more discernment and would not be willing to take the word of her natural guardians for this important matter. …

That is one of the most important matters in the training of a girl. The same thing may apply equally well to boys but we believe that the choice of a husband is of more importance to a woman than is the choice of a wife to a man.

May 1953

When ranching was a more prevalent way of life in the Roaring Fork Valley, the Times ran this description of lambing season at the Gerbaz ranch.

The Gerbaz brothers, Orest, Mike, Edmund, and Auzel are working ’round the clock these days supervising the lambing of the 1015 ewes at their ranch about nine miles below Aspen on the Roaring Fork.

The Gerbaz band of sheep is one of the three or four bands that are kept in Pitkin County all year. …

During lambing season the ewes are kept in a small pasture close to their master’s homes and close to the pens. …

In early June the band is taken by herder [Macario] Fresquez to the summer range between the Frying Pan and Hunter Creek east of Larkspur Mountain and near the headwaters of Rocky Fork Creek. At that time the lambs are well able to keep up with the flock and are ready to start grazing on the high mountain grasses. …

While Fresquez is in the high mountains with the band, the brothers are busy irrigating the many acres of hay lands and other crops that make it possible to keep the flock on the home ranch during the winter.

Fifty years ago Max Marolt, whose sons are currently climbing and skiing Mount Everest, was making his own mark in the ski world.

Max Marolt, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Marolt of Aspen, received a letter this week inviting him to attend the National Ski Association’s training camp for the 1953-54 FIS team.

The letter Max received is as follows:

Dear Max:

I have the pleasure of inviting you to attend the National Ski Association’s training camp for Men’s Downhill, Slalom, and Giant Slalom competitors for the 1953-54 season. …

The team to be sent to Europe for the 1954 FIS games will be selected on or before January 7, 1954 from those attending the camp. …

It is our hope that this training camp shall become a semi annual and perhaps eventually an annual affair at which really promising young skiers can get valuable training toward future years when they shall go abroad, and at which our teams to go to Europe can get good early season practice together. …


George Macomber, Chairman, International Competitions Committee, Subcommittee on Downhill and Slalom

Other Aspen athletes, meanwhile, were shining in track and field.

The Aspen track team was invited to Grand Junction to compete with class B schools for the state finals at Ft. Collins.

David Barbee qualified for the meet by putting the shot 38 ft, 8 1/2 in., which was good for third place, and a place in the state meet. …

This was the first meet that the boys had ever attended. Also they only had three days practice.

May 1978

Unfortunately, one local found a lot more than he bargained for during a day of spring fishing, as the following item reports.

Joseph Ritter, 28, of California, who disappeared while skiing March 14 on Aspen Mountain was found Saturday, April 29, by Dennis Albert Kinzebach, 24, of Aspen while fishing in Castle Creek.

Kinzebach found the body on the west side of Castle Creek not more than 600 yards away from the Castle Creek road, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department representative Don Davis said. …

Ritter, referred to as a “rusty intermediate hot dog skier,” by his wife, had apparently tried to ski down an out-of-bounds area known as Ophir Gulch and fell part way down the gulch.

Davis said Ritter apparently lost his skis and sprained his ankle in the fall. Ritter then started walking the rest of the way down the slope to reach the road, but didn’t quite make it.

“Three and a half weeks preceding that date almost eight feet of snow had fallen and he probably had six to seven feet of snow to fight his way through … ,” Davis added.

The tradition of neighbors fighting noise levels on Aspen Mountain dates back at least 25 years.

Despite objections from some neighboring property owners, Aspen’s Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday approved a snow making installation at the base of Aspen Mountain as a conditional use under the zoning code. …

Included in the approval were construction of two buildings below the proposed city water tank near the base of Lift 1A, as well as a series of pipes and wires to be buried on the west sides of both the Lift 1A slope and Little Nell, as well as pipes to connect the two systems.

The action was taken after a lengthy discussion during which objections were raised to the system and city water tank by representatives of the Mountain Queen Condominium Association and conditions requested by the Aspen Alps association. …

Representing the Aspen Alps, Hal Clark and Gerry Hewey expressed concern that no geologic survey had been submitted and that the noise levels at night would not be tolerable to owners of condominiums alongside the ski slope.

Today some of Aspen’s economic woes are being blamed on a stagnant retail environment; in 1978 at least one local thought the lack of a season ski pass was spelling doom for the community.

Zane Smith of the US Forest Service in Washington told County Commissioner Michael Kinsley last week that the Forest Service cannot impose a season pass on the skiing corporations here. That is the role of the local people, he said. …

“The Forest Service still doesn’t have any specific criteria to analyze the reasonableness of any request for a price increase, only whether competition exists,” [said Kinsley]. …

Kinsley said he told Smith that he felt elimination of the season pass was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” in Aspen, precipitating an exodus of employees and resulting in dramatic short and long-term effects on the community.

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