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

Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago

May 1903

Aspen was cracking down on mischievous kids 100 years ago, publishing this recently approved City Council ordinance in The Aspen Times,

Any person who shall throw stones or other missiles against, or in any way deface the windows or walls or other parts of any building or buildings, whether occupied or unoccupied, within city limits of this city, who shall in any manner injure awnings, posts, fences, enclosures or other improvements of any character whatever, either public or private property, who shall fill up, throw filth or other thing in, obstruct or otherwise damage any ditch or ditches lawfully constructed in said city, or who shall injure, mark or deface any trees planted for the ornament or shade of the streets, or private lots in said city, will be arrested and prosecuted.

Apparently one young man heeded the warning. The Times wrote,

Yesterday a small boy appeared in the office of Judge Stallard and informed that worthy man that a window in a house in town had been broken by him and asking that a curate be made for the damage done. Stallard declined to make any figures until he had found out how large the pane of glass broken and how much it would cost to repair it. The young man did well by coming in and reporting the damage done and offering to make reparation. The other boys of the town should follow his example and save themselves detention in jail and the expense of a trial. The property owners mean to stop the depredations which have been going on. Sometimes accidents happen and then it is the manly thing to tell the owner or agent of the property injured and pay up.

It must a have been a slow news day as the editors of the Times waxed poetic about the wonderful, wild West,

It would be difficult to find a man in the west who does not firmly believe that the destiny of the great empire this side of the Mississippi is greater than anything yet dreamed of by the east. …

The best of the east has always come west. There are more opportunities. Time was when a western president was a source of ridicule. Today it is a serious question, and in a few years more it will be a welcome suggestions.

The halls of congress will be filled with men from the west. The riches, the glory and the honor will be western. First comes the sturdy pioneer to blaze out the trail through the wilderness. Next comes the settler in his rude shanty. Then communities are started and towns grow to cities.

A train filled with trout made headlines in 1903.

Twenty-five thousand young trout will arrive on the Midland today. Fish Commissioner Brown would be pleased if two or more enthusiastic fishermen would go along with him and help plant them.

May 1953

Aspen was on the map in 1953 with glowing reports from reporters around the world. The Times reprinted this write-up from Reader’s Digest,

An article appearing in the June issue of Reader’s Digest entitled “Rocky Mountain Roving” by Donald and Louis Peattie describes the playground wilderness of Colorado and gives the following description of Aspen:

“Later or sooner, you will discover Aspen, a town become world-famous, to the surprise of its 1000 citizens, remnant of the 15,000 whose hearts beat high in bonanza times. When the silver boom closed with the last century, Aspen isolated its cup of mountains, was forgotten. But its steep, snowy slopes brought it to life again in the ’30s. Now it is a sports resort known to skiers the world over, with the longest of all chair lifts and breathtaking runs. In summer, Aspen’s cultural festival draws flocks of visitors to lectures, concerts and forums conducted by renowned artists and intellectuals.

While winter and summer are Aspen’s big seasons, we’d choose to be there in autumn. For it is late September and early October that the trembling aspen sends to glory all the mountain sides.”

Aspen was also becoming popular with the Hollywood set.

Mr. Stuart Mace who recently returned to Ashcroft from a prolonged Hollywood contract engagement with his husky dogs has important news, ideas and suggestions that are of vital interest to the Aspen community. Preliminary discussion with Mr. Mace reveals facts that among the several major moving picture producing companies there is focused considerable favorable attention upon our district as a potential field area for important pictures to be filmed in the future.

The prime commitment is an expression representing the business people of Aspen to the effect that “Aspen wants wholeheartedly to have movie locations use the area.”

Fifty years ago a newly aligned and reconstructed bridge was open to traffic (and it was rebuilt again, approximately 15 years ago) over the Roaring Fork River near the Aspen Art Museum. The Times reported,

Bert Schwartz, riding his horse, Bessie, were the first to cross the new bridge over the Roaring Fork River on the way to Pitkin County Hospital. They made their crossing last Tuesday and marked the official opening of the bridge to traffic.

Some things never change, like the Thrift Shop.

Should you need a hat for the Mad Hatters Ball, some jewelry, a pair of hiking shoes, a dress, a man’s suit, a refrigerator, a pair of skis, or some odd items that most stores don’t carry, the shop in Aspen which you would go to is the Hospital Thrift Shop.

Most merchandise sold in the store is donated – the shop will accept anything but perishables – and consignment articles are also sold.

In the last 14 months, the shop has netted about $3800 and so far all the money has been dedicated to the hospital.

May 1978

Forget Aron Ralston. The man in the spotlight 25 years ago was Captain Clean.

There is a new folk hero in Aspen.

His name is Captain Clean and he is encouraging everyone in town to get on the Clean Team and clean up Aspen.

In actuality, Captain Clean is Al Valdez and he took over the job as Captain Clean on Monday. He wears a white jump suit with red and blue stars and the name Captain Clean is lettered on the back.

He can be seen every day cleaning up the mall, the alleys, and downtown area on The Clean Machine, reminding Aspenites of the trash problem.

It seems some things are always in the news, like drugs in Aspen and the use of undercover agents to control them. The Times reported,

A crackdown on the public use of drugs in Aspen has been announced by Mayor Stacy Standley who told the Aspen Times this week, “I don’t care what people do at home, that’s their business, but when it comes to open use of cocaine in restaurants then I get very intolerant.”

The owners of several prominent Aspen bars and restaurants have already been warned by local law enforcement officials that they may lose their liquor licenses if they don’t act to halt the public consumption of drugs in their establishments, according to Standley. …

Police Chief Martin Hershey confirmed that he had met with Standley to discuss the situation. …

Hershey told the Times that he feels that education is the only possible solution to drug problems since police have been historically unable to control drug abuse.

He also noted that he considered undercover drug investigations pointless and finds them personally offensive. He said he would never permit an undercover operation by the Aspen police.

Talk of a skateboard park made headlines in 1978; of course it wasn’t until two decades later that it became reality. The Times wrote,

Skateboards were on the minds of local government officials this week as the subject of where the wheeled wonders can be used popped up at both the city council meeting and the joint county commissioners session on Monday.

The only firm action taken on the subject was the city council’s granting permission for a skateboard dual slalom contest to be held in early June, however, that council made it clear that it will act at its next meeting to ban skateboards from sidewalks in the downtown area.

Council members mentioned that they had been approached on a number of occasions with the idea of creating a skateboard park somewhere in the city.

It was noted, however, that the pro-skateboard forces had never taken any positive action toward designing or creating such a facility.

The City Council took a strong stance in support of equal rights for women in 1978. The Times reported,

An economic boycott of states which have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution was joined by the city of Aspen this week when the city council approved a resolution presented by the local chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Under the terms of the resolution, no city money will be spent on travel, food or accommodations for city officials or employees who attend meetings or conventions in any state which has not yet ratified the ERA.

Currently there are 15 states which have not agreed to the constitutional amendment.

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