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

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

There may not have been lift-served skiing or NHL-sized ice rinks in Aspen 100 years ago, but folks found plenty of ways to enjoy the winter weather. The Aspen Democrat wrote in three separate articles,



It is said the various skating ponds around the city are now in first-class condition owing to the past few nights of intense cold and that numerous young people are taking advantage of the fact and enjoying the exhilarating sport of skating. Last evening a crowd of young people enjoyed a few hours of pleasure on the Little Williams lake. Today a large party of jolly skaters are planning to go up to Stillwater, for an afternoon of fun.

Irving Everett, the proprietor of one of the local livery stables, received a beautiful big two seated sleigh yesterday to be used this winter by small parties. He is now anxiously awaiting the first heavy snow storm so he can match up his two blacks and take the Democrat force out for a cutter ride.




For several days the plumbers have been busily engaged fixing up the main pipes on Main street which were burst during the recent cold snap. This caused a large overflow of water on the street and the young children enjoy themselves skating on the ice. The plumbers say they are swamped with work and are kept busy and on the go all the time.

At last, Aspen’s animal population had someone looking out for their needs.

For some time the humane society of Denver have been in search of a person in Aspen who would act as the agent here, but it seemed impossible to get anyone, although such officer would have been welcomed by many people in the city. However, Mr. Dowdy has been prevailed upon to fill the responsible position and will in the future take a hand in all abuses of animals and other inhuman acts. He will treat all alike and will show no fear or favor.

The newspaper announced the big entertainment news of the day …

Have you heard about the new Victor talking machine down at Morthland’s store. They use the Monarch records with it and they are exceptionally fine ones. You can hear it down there on Saturday evening and every one is welcome.

December 1953

This year the flu is taking its toll on local schoolchildren; 50 years ago it was the chicken pox. The Times wrote,

The Aspen school is right in the middle of a siege of chicken pox, according to Superintendent Elbie Gann. He has stated that it is necessary for students who have been absent because of this disease to have a doctor’s certificate to re-enter school.

The holiday spirit was alive and well in Aspen, as evidenced by this article.

The city plans to put up the strings of lights over the intersections in the next few days and citizens are urged to decorate their homes and businesses with lights and other bright displays so that Aspen will be bright and colorful during the Christmas holidays.

Just how many people were driving the streets of Aspen in 1953? Quite a few, according to a report published in The Aspen Times.

At long last Pitkin County has some concrete evidence of the amount of traffic various roads are carrying especially during the summer months.

Last Spring the County Commissioners Tom Sardy, Orest Gerbaz and Clarence Quam got tired of waiting on the state to furnish a traffic counter and bought one of the gadgets.

This traffic counter cost $50.00 and it consists of a long rubber tube that is stretched across the road and a locked box that contains a mechanism for recording impulses from cars crossing the rubber tube.

Road use in Pitkin County was as follows:

Maroon Creek, July 15-23, 2152 vehicles

Castle Creek, July 24-Aug. 6, 1478 vehicles

Frying Pan, Aug. 7-12, 1143 vehicles

Crystal River, Aug. 14-21, 947 vehicles

Woody Creek, Aug. 22-29, 463 vehicles

Independence Pass, Aug. 30-Sept. 10, 4620 vehicles

Snowmass, Sept. 11-18, 432 vehicles

Brush Creek, Sept. 25-Oct. 2, 332 vehicles

Red Mountain, Oct. 3-10, 1834 vehicles

Was this published in 1953 or 2003? Many would argue it could have been either!

Dear Sir:

Being an old timer of Aspen, and having a few of the old time friends still living there, I have felt it my duty to oppose every effort possible to prevent that outrageous steal being made, by those whose interests are not for the people of the Western Slope, but for their own personal gain. …

I believe all of you must stand pat there on the Western Slope, to avoid any such steal of water now contemplated. The Western Slope is the last frontier of our state, and every intelligent person knows full well, that when development starts of its natural resources, there will not be too much water (if any) left to make this area an empire itself. …

Very truly yours,

H.O. Halleck,

Denver, Colorado

December 1978

All good things must come to an end, and thus The Times reported this about Sal A Mander’s run for political office,

Sal A Mander managed to outpoll one of his gubernatorial opponents in the Nov. 7 Colorado general election.

Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan reports that Mander, a cartoon lizard, garnered 2,453 votes across the state, as compared to a total of 2,193 for Earl Dodge of the National Statesman’s Party.

Mander swept a total of 209 votes in his home county of Pitkin on his way to the total of nearly 2,500 votes, which left him somewhat short of winner Richard Lamm, a Democrat.

Ever wonder when and how our local roads were named? Consider the mystery solved for a few byways in the Woody Creek area.

Stanley and Cora Natal of Woody Creek asked county commissioners Monday to change the names of two roads in Woody Creek and commissioners agreed.

The road that parallels Woody Creek and goes to Lenado will be called the Woody Creek Road. The road that parallels the Roaring Fork River will be called the River Road. East of the upper Woody Creek Bridge, it will become McLain Flats Road.

Natal said that the Woody Creek Caucus favored the change in the name of the Woody Creek as more historically appropriate.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow …

Aspen amateur forecaster Peter Worth completed a winter forecast before leaving for New Zealand last week. Worth said snowfall will be equal to last year in December and February and much greater in January.

Worth estimated that a total of 29-35 inches of snow will fall in Aspen during December, compared to 32 inches last year. The January total will be 33-39 inches, compared to last year’s 20.5 inches, and February will bring from 18-22 inches more, compared to 20.5 last year.

Heli-skiing in Aspen? That’s what one local group was advocating. The Times reported,

Representatives of the Aspen District Ranger’s office told county officials Monday that Greg Williams has re-submitted his application to establish a helicopter skiing operation in the Aspen area.

Williams has proposed an operation that would encompass three districts within two national forests in the Aspen-Vail area, with a helicopter based at Grizzly Reservoir.

He said the proposal envisions picking up clients in the Tagert Lake area and avoiding the community of Aspen because of concerns about noise and safety.

The intention would be to ski the Independence Pass area, he said.

Almost a year after Ted Bundy’s famous escape from the Garfield County Jail, a group of inmates tried the same trick. Fortunately, their attempt was foiled. The Times wrote,

Five inmates of the Garfield County Jail in Glenwood Springs tried the same escape route used by Theodore Bundy last New Year’s Eve, but failed.

The inmates had been assigned to clean a hallway outside their cells and were left unsupervised by Donald Allen, an assistant jailer.

Undersheriff Jack McNeel said that one or more of the inmates gained access to a crawl space above the ceiling by pushing through a joint in the plaster-board ceiling. The inmate or inmates then crawled to a point just above the kitchen and jailer’s apartment.

David Davis, head jailer, and his wife, Jeannie, heard noises coming from the crawl space. Mrs. Davis shouted for help and phoned the dispatcher in another room of the courthouse annex. She told the dispatcher somebody was trying to come through the roof, so deputies ran outside at first.

The inmates, perhaps alerted by the shout, had returned to their cells by the time deputies went inside the jail.


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