Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago
February 4, 2004
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’ competitor 100 years ago.
A follow-up report on the most recent disaster in the Smuggler mine was upbeat, and the article took the opportunity to comment on another crisis facing all miners.
All the men are back to work in the Smuggler. Manager Hallet and Superintendent Carey have bulkheaded off where the new fire started and since doing so the air in the various stopes is said to be better than it has been at any time since last summer. No more trouble is anticipated from this source and with all the men back at work on the mine Aspen has nothing to fear from the cry of hard times.
We have also been assured by the local office that there is nothing in the rumor that the Durant would probably close down owing to the exorbitant raise in the smelter charges. …
However, we feel safe to say that something will probably be done in the matter of smelter charges by the various mining interests of Aspen which will cause a reconsideration and reduction to the old scale.
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However, the next day’s paper contained the following item in the Local Briefs column.
D.M. Hyman is expected to arrive in the city on every incoming train to attend to business of importance relative to the present condition of matters in the Smuggler fire. It is understood another prominent mining man well versed in the conditions of mining will meet Mr. Hyman here and that they will go through the Smuggler and fully determine whether further fighting of the flames in the property, which are raging badly, is worth while or will prove of any advantage.
Every day seemed to bring another calamity to be overcome by persevering miners.
The first snowslide to be learned of in this district during the winter occurred Tuesday night in Tourtelotte Park. It was a large slide and came down the mountain side, over the Camp Bird mine and thence down across both roads running there, completely blocking them up so no travel could be done. However, the men employed in developing the several properties in that district joined forces and cleared the roads promptly in the morning so that the ore haulers were able to make their usual trip to and from the park yesterday.
The year 1904, like 2004, had an extra day in the calendar.
Leap year is always considered a time for fun and merriment, there being plenty of jokes to crack and a good supply of entertaining leap year games and the parties given during the year are always of the most entertaining nature. So proved the the surprise party given at Miss Hattie Parks last evening at her home on East Cooper. … Fifteen couples were invited and when they marched in unexpectedly on Miss Parks she didn’t know which way to turn or who to speak to first. … All sorts of leap year games were indulged in. Partners of the evening being chosen by the matching of paper hearts.
When the one-and-only chairlift broke down, the ingenuity of Aspen’s citizens succeeded in transporting die-hard skiers to the top of the mountain.
Mr. William V. Hodges, Jr., president of the Aspen Skiing Corporation, informed The Times via telephone Wednesday morning that the present lift shutdown will last probably until Saturday when the pinion gear that drives the lower section of the chair lift is repaired. …
When the gear broke Monday morning, Manager Red Rowland immediately began the work of opening the Midnight Mine road from Castle Creek to the Sundeck. In the meantime, Henry Stein, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Natalie Gignoux, owner of Little Percent Taxi, and lodge owners, and other citizens, were equal to the occasion and organized Operation Jeep Lift.
Here are some tips prepared by the Colorado State Medical Society “on how to avoid being a ski-stupid.” Good advice 50 years later!
This is addressed to Colorado skiers ” some of whom already are populating our better hospitals and fracture clinics. …
– Don’t ski on slopes beyond your skill. Don’t just let ‘er rip and hope for the best.
– Use the new quick-release or safety binds which permit your foot to pull away from the ski in the event of a spill. Unfortunately, very few Colorado skiers use these new bindings.
– The accident rate on the ski slopes is directly proportionate to fatigue and poor physical condition. So stop skiing when you feel tired. Don’t make that one more trip down; it may “schuss” you right into a hospital bed.
– The accident rate also decreases late in the season, a further indication greater skill and better physical conditions both cut down injuries. So start easy and work up to top form. In areas where farmers and ranchers ski, very few accidents occur among them because they’re in top shape physically. It’s the city slickers who get no exercise between weekends who keep the crutch manufacturers busy.
– Don’t go off and ski by yourself, and don’t ski in areas designated as hazardous.
– Protect your ears on cold days. They’re the part most likely to get frostbitten.
– Wear some sort of safety sun glasses or goggles, especially late in the season and in bright days. Snow-blindness ” actually sunburn of the sensitive retina inside the eye ” can leave vision permanently impaired.
Bil Dunaway, then publisher and editor in chief of The Aspen Times, was the ever-vigilant guardian of open government meetings and accountability to Aspen’s citizens. He took City Council members to task in the following editorial.
Aspen city council should know that a fundamental principle of our democracy is the public’s right to know what its elected officials are doing whenever they meet. This right transcends knowledge of official actions to include knowledge of the thought process behind those actions.
Because the right to know is so basic, most states, including Colorado, have adopted laws prohibiting elected officials from meeting in secret. …
Last Friday five of of Aspen’s city council members met for breakfast with three of their administrative staff to discuss public business at a private hotel.
Neither the public nor its surrogate, the press, was informed of the meeting. Only one member recognized the impropriety of such a gathering, and on the advice of the city attorney, asked that it be rescheduled for city hall with adequate public notice. His advice was ignored. …
We must condemn [those council members] for ignoring the democratic principles they were elected to protect, either willfully or thoughtlessly. The lone councilmember and city attorney who warned the others about the impropriety of the meeting and who waited for them at city hall, deserve commendation.
Peggy Clifford was also a watchdog, alerting readers in her Talk of the Times column to foreboding changes in western ski resorts.
Twentieth Century Fox Films, which bought Aspen’s mountains last year, bought Pebble Beach on California’s Monterey Peninsula two weeks ago. …
Fox, which now owns two of the most beautiful and valuable parcels of real estate in the country, is suddenly much more than a movie company. Having toyed with the destinies of countless fictional characters, it will now play a major role in determining the destinies of real people ” here and in Pebble Beach. …
This is not to say that Fox, by virtue of its size alone, is automatically more venal than some smalltime developer. It is to say, that by virtue of its size, it has enormous clout and that, as with all large corporations, its first loyalty is to its stockholders, not Aspen. …
Major American corporations are moving fast into recreation now. Virtually every major ski area in the West is now owned by a big non-resident company. One wishes local officials were moving as fast to develop tactics to deal with these corporations.