Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago
Editor’s note: Copies of The Aspen Times from October 1903 until 1911 are missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives and the Pitkin County Library’s microfilm reels. In order to continue our journalistic history of Aspen, we will copy excerpts from The Aspen Democrat, the Times’ rival newspaper 100 years ago.
Crime in Aspen has never been prevalent, but still it exists – even 100 years ago.
There is a fellow in the city who is proving himself a genuine nuisance by trying people’s back doors at night and frightening the ladies of the houses that happen to be alone. This occurred at two houses on West Hopkins Thursday night, one on Hyman and one on Cooper. One of the ladies gave an excellent description of the intruder yesterday so he was located and if any more trouble is forthcoming from that direction he had better look out or he will enjoy a long period in the city bastile. A lady residing on East Durant also reported the loss of some bed clothing which she had hung on the clothes line, but when she went to bring in the bedding, it had disappeared. This is getting to look quite bad and the fellow had better make himself scarce.
Forget Oktoberfest … in 1903 the fall festival was Spudfest. The Democrat reported,
Next Saturday Gene Grubb is planning to hold a spudfest at his great ranch down by the river. He had prepared a cellar for the reception of his potato crop. The dimensions of the cellar are two hundred feet by forty. After the Murphys have been stored away for the winter, the neighbors and all others who have rallied for the task will be regaled at a feast. A beef will be barbecued and eaten “from the hoof.”
Of course Spudfest wasn’t the only form of entertainment for Aspen locals. The paper reported on two very different – and apparently very fun – happenings.
An unusually large number attended the dance last night given at the Jerome by Mr. Hetherly. The music was above criticism, the crowd jolly and sociable, the floor as slick as could be, and with one of Aspen’s typical dancing crowds a pleasanter evening’s amusement could not be found. Mr. Hetherly’s social dances have always been popular with the young folks …
“The Storks” scenic display is said to be a veritable Aladdin achievement of beauty and gorgeousness. The first act is an exterior view of the Palatial residence of the King of Bakteria – the first scene of the second act picturesquely represents a glade in a forest, emblazoned with hundreds of fire flies and owls – the setting of the sun and the rise of the moon. The second scene of this act is a sorcerer’s banquet hall in an old ruin. The electric display in these last two scenes is the most costly and beautiful seen on the stage in years. It will be presented in all its glory at the Wheeler.
School was back in session, and according to the “News About School” column some happenings were similar to today’s activities and some were very different.
Both biology classes are feverishly collecting animals, before they hibernate, to study during the winter months. A bat is wanted for use in the biology class, dead or alive, but in good condition. …
The social studies group took a trip to Hallam Lake and had their scheduled class outdoors. …
The home ec classes have been studying jelly making and canning. Home Ec I is now studying the seven basic foods. They also have had a freezing demonstration. …
Soap carving has been the main subject of interest in the crafts class. …
Two football games have been played. The first game was played with Eagle. Aspen lost 18-0. The second game was played with Basalt in Basalt. Aspen lost 54-18. The next game is scheduled to be played at Minturn. …
Before slick brochures and expensive advertising campaigns, local businessmen took a hands-on approach to selling the town. The Times reported,
Col. Henry R. Dutton, general manager of the Jerome Hotel, will be touring through Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada, Arizona and California for the next six weeks. Col. Dutton plans to contact organizations, large business firms and corporations in his drive to “Promote Aspen.” He has taken with him three films, two of winter in Aspen and the other of summer, which he is sure will create interest and bring the happy vacationers and conventioneers to Aspen.
Elections are always in the news at this time of year, and 50 years ago the fire department was making headlines.
In this week’s issue of The Times appears the first publication of a notice of a special bond election to be held by the Aspen Fire Protection District on October 24, 1953.
The amount of the bonds being voted is $30,000.00 with interest from 3-1/2 to 4 percent from 1955 to 1963 inclusive.
The chief and most expensive item will be the modern fire truck that will be equipped with the latest fire-fighting tools. The truck will be four-wheel drive with a built-in pump that can use water from steams, ponds, cisterns or irrigation ditches.
It seems the fire department was a worthy cause, as the Times reported on two different fires,
A brush fire burnt over 3 to 4 acres of sage and grass at the foot of Smuggler Mountain last Sunday morning about 12 o’clock. The first started in Williams addition above the Workentine house by hot ashes thrown out. No damage was done to buildings.
Last Wednesday the city fire department was called to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nino Hirsig where a furnace went out of control and got pretty warm.
Aspen played host to a trap shooting event in 1953, and received rave reviews.
The annual fall Western Slope Trap Shooting Championships held at the Aspen Trap Club were generally conceded to be the most successful to day.
Scores ran exceptionally high, as has been the case at all the tournaments held at this gun club. Shooters from eleven states were present.
Many of the shooters and their ladies stated that at no tournament which they had attended had such delicious food been served and asked that Guido’s Restaurant be complimented thereon.
A bomb threat closed Aspen High 25 years ago, leading police and school officials to come up with a creative way to deter future threats. The Times wrote,
Aspen High School was shaken by a bomb threat last Friday when an unidentified female called the high school office and told one of the secretaries, “There is a bomb and it will go off any minute,” Sheriff Dick Kienast said.
Five sheriff’s deputies, three Aspen police officers and several fire department volunteers went out to the school at approximately 10:30 a.m., Kienast said, to search for the bomb.
The crew searched the entire school in 45 minutes, Kienast said, but did not discover a bomb. Students returned to their classes an hour after police arrived.
Kienast told the press that the sheriff’s department and school officials have mutually agreed that should such calls continue the solution will be to keep all students after school to make up interrupted class time.
Before Prada and before Planet Hollywood, there was Andre’s. Here the Times reported on Andre’s move into the Galena Street space,
Andre’s Restaurant is practically an institution in Aspen. In leafing through a travel folder, chances are that some of Aspen’s beautiful people are pictured brunching among its ferns.
Andre Ulrych opened his restaurant in Aspen eight years ago. “I could never get breakfast after 11:00,” he says. “So I decided to open a restaurant and serve breakfast until 2 p.m.”
The old Andre’s will soon be no more, when Ulrych moves his establishment into the new location across the street in the old Eagles building. …
Ulrych has planned three floors in his new establishment. The first floor will house the restaurant and bar, furnished with antiques and plants, in much the same atmosphere as the old Andre’s.
The second floor will be a mezzanine overlooking the dining room, and will be for private dining. The third floor will be an exclusive club, open only to card-carrying members and guests. Ulrych says it will be Aspen’s most elegant disco with art deco etchings and exotic plants. An LA designer is planning sophisticated lighting and sound systems, and a retractable skylight that will open to the stars.
Predicting the weather in Aspen is tricky business, but one Aspen local made a name for himself doing just that in 1978.
Peter Worth, who has begun to do extensive weather forecasting in Aspen as a hobby, predicts from six to 10 inches of snow will fall in the city of Aspen during October.
Worth bases his predictions on careful record-keeping and comparisons with past seasons. He charts barometer readings, past precipitation and other factors.
Another controversial subject was put to rest, with a compromise over “Fry-Ark” water rights finally reached.
Months of secret negotiations apparently ended this week with the acceptance by the Aspen City Council and Board of County Commissioners of a compromise agreement concerning the Fryingpan Arkansas Project. …
A key point in the agreement is a paragraph recommending that a minimum stream flow be retained in Hunter Creek of 21 cubic feet per second at its confluence with the Roaring Fork River, or 51 cfs at the gaging station, immediately upstream from the Red Mountain Ditch. …
The agreement recognizes Aspen’s need for additional municipal water in Hunter Creek and gives the city first right to make any water rights purchases up to 1.77 cfs, but these rights, like the 15 cfs already owned by the city, would go to maintain minimum stream flow when needed.
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After nine months of being shuttered due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Wheeler Opera House will reopen for local acts. A touchless reservation system will be open to 53 people for in-person at the venue. Online live streaming also will be available.