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

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.

Forget Martha Stewart ” the folks at the Aspen Democrat shared their advice for holiday shopping.

A few more weeks and Christmas day will be upon us with its festive greetings, its holiday gayety and the universal exchange of presents. …

… Now the goods are all in, the newest and choicest are on exhibition and the timely purchaser has the most extravagant collection from which to make his choice of Christmas gifts and various concomitants of the holiday season.

Why wait longer to make your purchases?

Go now!

Last of all, the valiant workers in Uncle Sam’s postal department and in the express office, whose Christmas day is usually one of energetic and unceasing labor, will appreciate the consideration of those who send their holiday mementos in time to reach their destination the day before the holiday rather than the day after.

Therefore, gentle reader, do your shopping now!

Before it was the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies nature preserve, Hallam lake was a community gathering place. In winter, this meant ice skating (and swimming?!). The paper reported,

Hallam lake seems to be a great place for the young men of the city to take a nice cool bath in these frisky days as two of them while skating Sunday plunged into the icy water and enjoyed life for a few moments while their friends on the shore gave them their sym with a horse laugh attached. The ice on Hallam lake is in perfect condition in general but in some places rather thin and extra care has to be taken to keep from going through, but Jerry Sheehan and Carl Shaw were not overly careful and as a consequence they received a cold dunking. It is understood that negotiations are now in progress to make a skating rink out of the lake and it will be a great thing if the deal goes through.

Coal was on the minds of many locals 100 years ago, as evidenced by this article,

It was learned yesterday that Bob Long has leased the Rahrer property at Ashcroft in which the coal strike was recently made, specimens of the coal now being on exhibition in various windows of the local merchants. Development work is now being pushed on the claim and he says he is now in to determine the real extent of the coal belt and expects to find it quite extensive. He will work the claim if his efforts prove successful, all through the winter. Great results may be expected.

December 1953

Although Aspen Mountain had only one lift in 1953, the opening of ski season was still big news. The Times wrote,

The Ski Lift will start running Sunday, December 13, and will operate every day thereafter during the winter season, was the announcement made by Harold (Red) Rowland, manager of the lift. The hours will be from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.

Another popular winter pastime made headlines,

One of the most popular recreational areas in Aspen is the skating rink at the old Lincoln school grounds, one block from the present school building. Built by several public spirited citizens several years ago, and maintained by school custodian, Clarence Quam. Lights are furnished by the Holy Cross, formerly Mountain Utilities; water by the Aspen Water Co., also formerly Mountain Utilities; and snow is removed by the County road department maintainers.

Imagine the Aspen Airport closed for the winter? Not after 1953, according to this report in The Aspen Times.

The Board of County Commissioners at their regular meeting voted to assist in keeping the Aspen Airport open, or free of snow, during the winter season, when county equipment was free after plowing the roads of the county.

Harold Pabst, owner of a flying service appeared before the Commissioners and urged them to assist in plowing snow to a sufficient width to allow planes to land and take-off. …

Pabst plans to prepare notices that can be included in the mailing of all lodges and hotels that will notify prospective guests who own planes or who will use charter service so they can plan to fly to Aspen this winter.

Was a clash party in 1953 akin to a rave in 2003?

The freshman class held a clash party last Friday night. Everyone was supposed to wear clashy clothes. Entertaining games were led by the freshmen class sponsor, Mr. Lewis.

Upon arriving at the school, members of the class, who came early to prepare for the party, found the school full of smoke and reported it. It was discovered to be a box of sawdust with oily rags burning.

The party was reported to be a success, although smoky.

December 1978

If only it were true this year!

Perhaps not since the hard winter of 1879 has the snow fallen so deep in Aspen, as early in the season.

In the winter a century ago, a band of prospectors led the way over the drive from Leadville. They camped in Hunter Creek and sent one member back for provisions.

The winter of 1978 promises to be another record-breaking snow year. Cars buried under blankets of powder. Children reveled in a snowed-out vacation from school. And the icicles may not melt until spring.

Of course not everyone was celebrating all that snow. The Times reported,

All four of Aspen’s ski areas were open this week as two substantial snowfalls piled up a base of more than three feet on the peaks.

While the ski area operators were ecstatic to get three feet of snow in a week, road crews were cursing in their attempts to keep up.

On Tuesday, the Brush Creek, Red Mountain, and Woody Creek roads were closed. The Brush Creek and Red Mountain roads remained closed Wednesday to vehicles without chains.

City Hall and public schools let employees and students leave early Tuesday because of the difficult travel conditions.

High winds combined with cold yesterday to bring the chill factor for those skiers who were hunting the powder down to 30 below zero on top of the mountains.

The areas shut down some of the lifts because of the blowing.

Former Aspen Times publisher Loren Jenkins made the Times before he owned the paper (which might also explain why his name was misspelled).

Now Newsweek bureau chief in Rome, former Aspenite Lauren Jenkins was one of two reporters beaten and detained by troops in Teheran, Iran last Saturday.

According to press reports, Jenkins and a fellow Newsweek reporter, Barry Came, were beaten by troops as they emerged from their hotel to see what was happening.

Heavy shooting had erupted earlier in the day as troops battled thousands of demonstrators who attempted to storm the American embassy.

The holiday season in Aspen has always been party season. The Times announced,

Aspenites can pretend they are in glitter city on Friday night, Dec. 8, when the Aspen Ski Club puts on its Annual Las Vegas Night.

There will be tables of poker, blackjack and craps and two roulette wheels, dealers will be dressed in visors over their eyes and shirt sleeves held up with garters, chip girls will be in skimpy costumes.

It seems The Aspen Institute is still trying to fulfill this mission:

A new organization, Friends of the Aspen Institute ” Community Programs Committee, had its inaugural meeting Tuesday.

The purpose of the new organization, according to the rule for organization, “is to improve and strengthen the relationship between the Aspen Institute, the Aspen community and the surrounding areas.”

The group plans to “utilize the facilities and resources of the Aspen Institute during the off-season and winter season by offering programs, seminars, courses, and single presentations of a strong educational nature,” the rules add.

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