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

Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago

February 1904

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.

The typhoid epidemic, which had been capturing headlines for weeks, began to wane. The paper reported,

The typhoid fever at Leadville is subsiding, there being no new cases reported to the board of health for the past three days. The death rate for typhoid fever for January was 15, while the rate for six months has been 125 from all causes.

Dr. Davis remains in this city for the present and will continue to represent the state board of health in assisting the local health authorities in putting the city on a practical sanitary basis. The city has purchased a couple of car loads of lime and it is being distributed all over the city. The state bacteriologist has not found anything in the water and the reports published in the Denver papers were untrue.

Forget that prize elk. Two locals got themselves a prize lynx. The Democrat wrote,

Bright and early yesterday morning Stanley Stitcher and Henry Severs, two well known young lads residing on the Mesa, started out for a day’s fun hunting for rabbits and what other game might cross their path. Owing to the freshly fallen snow they could easily track the animals and finally came upon a wild looking beast resembling an overgrown wild cat. The boys were anxious to secure the prize and both fired at once killing the beast instantly. It proved to be a fine large lynx and was shot up Maroon creek. The lads brought their trophy home and had the pleasure of selling it for a neat sum. They now claim to be the only crack shots of Aspen.

Was spring just around the corner in February 1904? Not according to that prognosticator of prognosticators, the groundhog.

Yesterday was ground hog day and as the sun shone all day the “sausage” undoubtedly saw his shadow and again retired for another six weeks.

Of course not everyone listened to Punxsutawney Phil. In fact, some Aspenites wrote about spring cleaning, including this little ditty,

Clean Up The Streets

The weather is warmer.

The streets are dirty.

The alleys are filthy.

And the council should get a move on itself and enforce the cleaning up of all the streets and alleys and backyards in the city.

Filth breeds disease.

And disease means death and misery.

Let the council head off all this calamity by instructing the peace officers to have the city cleaned from garret to basement.

February 1954

The reign of this year’s Winterskol queen, Gretchen Bleiler, was limited to a ride in the parade. In 1954, however, there was much ado surrounding the queen’s coronation. In a photo caption, the Times reported,

The Queen is crowned. Hollywood’s Dan Dailey places a crown on Miss Kristin Vogt, of Oslo, Norway, 1954 Winterskol Ski Queen, as Miss Nina Warren, daughter of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, waits to present the royal scepter. The crowning took place at the impressive Coronation Ball.

It appears Aspen’s history as a great place to host a media broadcast dates back long before ESPN and the X Games. However, this radio broadcast was by a world-renowned journalist and adventurer.

Mr. Henry L Stein, president of the Chamber of Commerce, has announced that the Chamber is sponsoring locally the Lowell Thomas broadcasts from Aspen February 15th to 19th, inclusive.

Mr. Thomas broadcasts five days each week for Kaiser-Frazier Company to more than 12,000,000 persons over a national hookup. His broadcast from Aspen will mean additional expenses which the Chamber of Commerce voted to cover. …

When the possibility of having Mr. Thomas broadcast from Aspen came up so many recognized the publicity value for Aspen that the plan was advanced to collect money from members and or friends to pay for the national hook-up and the expenses of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and the engineer and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Nicks.

Now a center for the arts, the Red Brick once housed Aspen’s schools. The Times reported,

About 150 persons attended the formal dedication and inspection of the new school addition last Tuesday evening. The new addition was open for inspection and school patrons and friends wandered about to see every part. …

Architect Sam Caudill explained the various features of the new building and some of the problems involved in producing the most economical space. Caudill told the audience that the new space cost only a little over $8.00 per square foot whereas the national average for schools is around $14.00 per square foot. …

Dr. Robert C. Lewis, Jr., president of the school board, told those assembled that he was still convinced that the addition to the present building was the best procedure. He said that under the present plan that the three additional rooms could be quite cheaply constructed immediately to the north of the corridor in the new part. This would take care of school expansion for years to come. If, later, additional space is needed, a building for kindergarten and the first three grades could be built to relieve this building.

February 1979

A team of consultants from Boulder recently offered its two cents about Aspen’s malls. Was it dejà vu?

A team headed by Gage Davis and Associates, Boulder, was selected to plan Aspen’s downtown beautification and mall expansion program during a special council study session Monday.

Boulder planning director when its mall was conceived and executed, Nolan Rosall told the council that the downtown beautification and mall expansion were complex projects involving much more than design. Public acceptance is important as are many “nitty-gritty” details like parking, traffic, delivery, trash hauling, etc. …

Using Boulder as an example, planners can show that business on the mall increased more than elsewhere in the city even during construction because of the way the project was designed and executed.

RFTA might be seeing flat ridership numbers these days, but 25 years ago the bus company was booming. The Times reported,

Both locals and tourists are using city buses in greater and greater numbers, apparently in direct proportion to improved equipment and service.

On a single day a week ago, 1,600 skiers used the bus system to get to the slopes.

In December of 1977, a total of 49,000 riders used the buses. In December of 1978, that number had increased to 92,000. …

The city runs the system at cost this year, with the skiing corporation contributing toward a centralized system and bus barn in the future.

Melinda Severance, assistant to HJ Stalf, transportation director for the city, said, “It’s an instance in which the city government and skiing corporation are working together for both the tourists and locals.”

In other transportation news …

City and council officials were given indications at a special meeting Tuesday morning that state and federal highway officials will become involved along with the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA) in helping to build a busway from Aspen to the airport.

Highway officials were concerned about figures in a county study of alternative transit that estimated Highway 82 would have to handle some 30,000 vehicles a day by the summer of 1990.

The city and county also agreed that if the highway department would help with the busway a design would be accepted that could ” if the program proves to be a flop ” be used as a highway. …

The cost, to be borne by the highway department, is estimated at about $50,000. … The cost of the busway, including right-of-way acquisition and bridges, is estimated at some $12 million.

Great conditions for skiers meant bad conditions for local wildlife. The Times reported,

The winter of 1978-79 is shaping up as the worst in half a decade for Colorado wildlife. Heavy snows and cold temperatures have caused big game animals to cluster at low elevations, where they are susceptible to disease, where they pose hazards for motorists, where they suffer from harassment by dogs and people, and where they compete with domestic livestock for food.

Colorado Division of Wildlife officers predict losses as high as 60% among deer herds in some areas of the state.

Elk, far hardier, will not suffer losses of nearly that magnitude but are nonetheless hard pressed to find adequate forage.