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Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago

October 1903

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. Therefore, in order to continue our journalistic history of Aspen, we will copy excerpts from The Aspen Democrat, the Times’ rival newspaper 100 years ago.

Though the Quiet Years were just around the corner, the paper was still reporting on Aspen’s prosperity.



It is putting it mildly to say that Aspen is at present enjoying an era of prosperity equaled by no other camp in the state. Let every citizen take advantage of the golden opportunity and push the good things along. Everybody should keep pushing and not give up until the goal is reached.

The reason for such optimism about the state of Aspen? Perhaps it was people like D.R.C. Brown and Jerome B. Wheeler, who the paper reported about in two separate articles.




D.R.C. Brown, the local capitalist, will do “some more” for Aspen. He has quite extensive plans for the spring.

Jerome B. Wheeler is in the city for a short time on business. It is understood Mr. Wheeler is looking over some mining claims in Tourtelotte park and that active operations may be started on the claims in the near future, as Mr. Wheeler has great plans in view for Aspen.

Much like today, Aspenites noted with the regret the loss of old landmarks.

The old Clarendon hotel on the corner of Mill and Durant has been sold and is soon to be torn down, the lumber to be removed from the city entirely. The purchasers are Messrs. Gifford and Crann of Rifle, who are expected in the city on each train to commence the work of tearing down this old land mark and arrange for the shipment of the lumber to Rifle. It is with sigh of relief and yet a feeling of regret that we learn that the place on which the old Clarendon has stood for so many years will soon be a vacant lot. It is a relief because of the danger to the pedestrians that must pass by the building and the opportunity it offers to fire bugs. Of regret because it was one of the first buildings to be erected in the city and at one time was the most popular hotel on the Western Slope.

Forget locking your home at night, it was the chicken coops that needed securing 100 years ago.

Some unkind individual has been entering the chicken coops of the good people on the mesa during the past few evenings and helping himself to the chickens. It is understood that seven chickens were taken last Tuesday night but John Thorn was the greatest sufferer of this chicken raid, he having lost twenty-five of the finest chicks that ever shook a hoof in Aspen. It is unnecessary to add that John is now laying awake at night to protect what chickens he has left and so are several of the other residents of the mesa and the chicken thief had better watch or the goblins will get him.

Halloween has long been a big holiday for Aspenites. In 1903, the celebrations began like this …

Although hallowe’en, the night of spooks and goblins, is yet a week off, numerous parties have been arranged for that evening and invitations written on brown scrap paper, or else in other odd, unthoughtof forms, are being sent over the city bidding the people to come and spend a ghostly evening enjoying real fun. One of the most elaborate parties will be given at the Hotel Jerome and from what is known it will be one of the events of the season.

October 1953

Hunting season was under way in 1953, and the Times predicted good things for those who set out to bag big game.

From present weather conditions and indications big game hunters in Colorado this fall will stand a much better chance of bagging their deer, elk or bear because the opening of the big game seasons was postponed from Oct. 15 to Oct. 24 due to the fire hazard in the national forests. … The director points out that with the weather still warm and clear Oct. 15 – the date originally fixed for opening of the season in western Colorado, hunters would have found all the elk and most of the deer still up high, making hunting difficult. With the season now set to open Oct. 24 throughout the entire state, there is a much better chance of cold or snow driving the game animals down from higher elevations.

The Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company announced its new telephone rate schedules for Colorado exchanges 50 years ago, and much like today the rates were going up, up, up.

Here in Aspen this will mean that four party flat rate residence telephones will go up around one cent per day and one party flat rate business telephones less than three cents per day. In the overall, our customers’ bills for local business and residence service will be up 13.4 percent. The new rate schedules for Aspen are as follows:

Public telephone, local calls 10 cents. …

A lecture recounting a deadly expedition, later the subject of Robert Craig’s classic mountaineering book, “Storm and Sorrow,” was announced for the Blue Lounge at the Hotel Jerome.

Robert Craig, a resident of Aspen and a member of the American Team, which recently returned from an attempt to climb the mountain known as K2 in the Karakoram, Himalayas, in Pakistan will lecture on his thrilling experiences and show colored slides in Aspen this Friday night. … This is a rare opportunity for the people in Aspen to hear first-hand of the American Team’s attempt. All are welcome! Don’t miss it.

Closer to home, the Times reported on another climbing adventure.

Dennis Stiner, former Aspenite, who is now making his home in Leadville, and his Boy Scout Troop No. 73 climbed the second highest point ever reached by a scout troop. The boys made their camp at the foot of the towering peak, and very early Sunday morning started their ascent of Mt. Elbert, reaching the summit by noon.

October 1978

Global warming was beginning to capture headlines in 1978, including at an Aspen Institute seminar. The Times reported,

A panel meeting at the Aspen Institute Oct. 8-14 concluded that there may be “urgent social implications” caused by probable changes in the world’s climate over the next few decades.

Their conclusion reflects increasing concern about the pervasive ramifications of man-made climatic changes, primarily the growing amount of carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere caused, most scientists agree, by the burning of fossil fuels and perhaps from accelerating world deforestation.

“By the mid twenty-first century, the projected warming is likely to exceed any fluctuations that has occurred since the late Ice Age,” stated a news releases issued by the Aspen Institute program on Food, Climate and World’s Future.

Some things never change, like the always-changing ski industry.

The ski industry is changing and Colorado ski resorts must keep pace or business could go elsewhere, Garry Mitchell, president of Colorado Ski County USA, told members of the Aspen Chamber of Commerce.

“Skiing like it used to be ain’t like it used to be,” he emphasized. …

He went on to explain how the business can go elsewhere.

“The skier profile is changing,” he said. “We have tunnel vision. We have our eyes fixed on the old ski customer profile and are not keeping pace with changes. …

“Maybe we should get ski out of our vocabulary. The winter vacationer now wants a cosmopolitan experience … tennis, ice skating, shopping, dining. The visitor expect things now.”

The city had budget woes 25 years ago, leading the council to discuss creative solutions.

Continuing its cost slashing efforts, Aspen’s city council again reduced salary increases incorporated in the 1979 budget study session. …

City Manager Mick Mahoney and the Finance Department had originally proposed 8% automatic cost of living raises for all employees plus a 2% discretionary merit raise.

Mayor Stacy Standley objected to automatic raises for all employees since many, he claimed, were being paid too much for the work they were doing. …

After additional discussion, it was the council consensus that a total salary increase of $175,000 be incorporated in the 1979 budget to be used for merit increases at the discretion of the city manager.

The Times had this to say about the city’s solution to its budget dilemma,

Although their stand will not be popular with all city employees, we must commend Aspen’s city council members for their continuing efforts to reduce the proposed 1979 budget. …

The solution suggested this week by Mayor Stacy Standley and accepted by the other council members is an equitable one. .. This will save the city roughly $95,000 from the original budget proposal, but assure adequate raises for those who deserve them.


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