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

Aspen’s history: 25/50/100 years ago

JUNE 1903

Glenwood Springs’ Strawberry Day celebration was the story of the day 100 years ago.

Night before last the trains rushed into the stations at Glenwood like so many puffing, snorting, fire-belching dragons, and from their sides they shed, like scales, a multitude of shining objects, men clad in hilarity and laughter, ladies gaily decked out in their brilliant best.

Nearly a thousand came from Aspen; over nine hundred came from down the river. It is fair to supposed that Leadville and its environs did still better. … It is fair to say that about 3500 persons were in Glenwood from outside on Strawberry Day last night.

Strawberry Day was so big, in fact, that some Aspenites were given the day off. The Times wrote,

The management of the Durant mine granted all the employees of the Durant a holiday today in order that those who wish might have an opportunity to take in Glenwood on the day of her annual celebration. Many of the men will take advantage of the vacation and will take their families down to the Hot Water City to spend the day and to devour free strawberries and cream.

Then it was Aspen’s turn to draw the crowds. The Times urged,

The railways running into Aspen should do the square thing on the Fourth of July. We have sent nearly a thousand paid fares from Aspen to Glenwood on the excursion rates offered by the two roads. Glenwood and the railways reaped the benefit. The people of Aspen know this and they do not object to it, but they would like a little reciprocity. They would like to have the Glenwood people show that they appreciate favors and come to Aspen for the Fourth of July.

An ode to the Roaring Fork River – “When the Roarin’ Fork is High” – filled the pages of The Aspen Times in 1903.

When daylight fairly calls the turn, and night-time slowly dwindles,

And fairies spin their summer togs on countless dainty spindles;

When through the pines and cottonwoods the storm no longer tramples,

And spring has opened up her stock instead of showin’ samples,

There’s no man born of woman from Aspen to New York,

Who’s quite so gay and happy as the bard of Roarin’ Fork.

JUNE 1953

Clearing Independence Pass of snow was, and still is, a big job. Fifty years ago the pass wasn’t cleared for traffic until late June.

Snow banks still block sections of the Independence Pass highway although Gene Poyner of Leadville and Paul Frost of Aspen are working every day with bulldozer and maintainer to open the road to summer travel. Mr. Frost reports that the pass should be open late this week or early next week.

Ever worry that the Maroon Creek or Castle Creek bridge might collapse? One did 50 years ago. The Times reported,

Last Saturday morning a W.R. Hall Distributing Co. tanker truck loaded with 6500 gallons of heavy fuel broke through the Castle Creek bridge by the Mountain Utilities generating plant and was stuck there until about Sunday noon before the Hall Co. crew could figure out a way of getting the heavy tanker out of the Castle Creek flood water.

The outfit, loaded with oil, weighed approximately 41 tons and the driver took the low river road as all trucks weighing over eight tons are supposed to do. The driver claims that he felt the bridge give and break when his tractor was on it and when the back dual axles were in the center of the span the timbers gave way.

Most everyone in town visited the scene of the wreck enjoying a grand stand view from the regular Castle Creek bridge.

This year the ARC opened. In 1953, another pool was drawing summer crowds.

Mr. Leonard Thomas, owner and operator of the new Aspen Pool got back to Aspen Monday after spending several weeks in Europe. …

During his absence the three lots immediately to the east of the pool have been leveled and a stout chain-link fence has been installed. In this area Mr. Thomas plans to have games including badminton and shuffleboard with plenty of loafing space in lawn chairs.

JUNE 1978

Sal A Mander, the politician lizard, was back in the news.

Sal A Mander, that laid back lizard in the Sal A Mander comic strip, has announced he is going to run for Governor of Colorado.

Now in the last election, the time Sal ran for Mayor of Aspen, he couldn’t get on the ballot because he wasn’t a real person.

“Discrimination against lizards,” says Sal. And he’s seen to it that this won’t be a problem.

For Chris Cassatt, Sal’s creator, has legally changed his name to Sal A Mander.

Asked this week in an interview why he is running for Governor, Sal replied, “Why do people climb mountains or take drugs? Because it’s there.”

He tried to look honest, “Actually it’s so all my friends can have a classy place to stay when they are in Denver.”

When asked what his campaign issues will be, Sal answered “I’m not answering any straight questions.

“But I will tell you that the one stand I plan to take is … equal rights for all living things.

“The turkeys have been running this state long enough. It’s time for the lizard.”

In recent years, Fourth of July fireworks have been canceled due to weather and dry conditions. The show was up for debate for a different reason 25 years ago.

The rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air might or might not appear over Aspen on the Fourth of July, following the city council and fire department’s latest moves in the Great Aspen Fireworks Debate.

Several weeks ago, Councilman John Van Ness requested that the matter of fireworks be included in this week’s council agenda, so that the council could reconsider its decision not to give any money for a fireworks display on the Fourth.

Before the council could meet, however, the fire department reportedly held its own meeting and voted not to put on a fireworks show, whether the council wanted to fund it or not.

Hearing a report on this vote, the city council nonetheless forged ahead at its regular meeting Monday and voted to reverse its earlier decision and provide $2,000 for the purchase of fireworks … if anyone could be found to shoot them off.

Along with the appropriation, the council voted to ask the fire department to reconsider its decision not to take part in the show.

A controversial expansion of The Aspen Institute made headlines in 1978, with the editor of the Times offering these words of warning,

Now that the city council has granted conceptual approval to the Aspen Institute’s plans for expansion, it’s time for the Institute to do its share and buckle down to the serious work of confronting the long list of community concerns which the council has identified.

It seems entirely reasonable to us that the council should be looking for guarantees that the citizens of Aspen won’t wind up the losers if the council ultimately approves this project, which violates nearly every major principle of the city’s growth control policies. …

Any future attempt by the Institute to gain further approval without providing specific answers to the council’s specific questions will have to be taken as a breach of faith and clear evidence that the Aspen Institute is not as trustworthy as it would have us all believe.

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