Is Grant’s Cabin gone?
August 6, 2005
A cabin on the backside of Aspen Mountain where locals have gathered for 17 years of backcountry skiing may be shuttered by Pitkin County this week.Grant’s Cabin, as it’s known, sits on a mining claim that the state Supreme Court ruled last year belongs to Pitkin County. Basalt resident Grant Timroth bought what he thought was legal title to the claim in 1988 – complete with a recorded, notarized deed. He built the 400-square-foot cabin that same year.”As far as we knew, the title was good,” said Grant’s wife, Kristin, on Friday. The family invited their friends to gather at the cabin over the years for snowmobiling and skiing on the 2.5-acre parcel, which has views of Highlands Ridge.”There have been a lot of people in the valley who had fun there over the years,” Kristin said. “We lost a hard-fought battle and know the legal issues, but we thought it would be important to let everybody know that the cabin is going away – they’ll be pretty sad about that.”A court hearing is scheduled Wednesday in which County Attorney John Ely will ensure that the county can evict the Timroths from the cabin.”The Supreme Court found in favor of the county, that the county owns that property … but as it turns out, someone had [built] a cabin up there,” Ely said. “It was illegal, as no permits were pulled for it, and in spite of the Supreme Court case, it continued to be occupied. That’s not good for the obvious reasons – they have no right to use it, and there are risk and insurance concerns.”
The county’s dispute over the mining claim called the Twilight Lode, where the cabin sits, dates back to Aspen’s quiet years, after the 1893 silver crash when miners abandoned Aspen and their property taxes. The state set up criteria for how counties were supposed to handle the sale of land with delinquent taxes, and in 1908 the county held a tax sale on several properties, including the Twilight Lode.But there were no bidders for the Twilight, so the county held the lien. The claim was forgotten until 1964, when a treasurer’s deed was issued to the county.In 1994 the county attempted to include the Twilight with a number of other claims used in a land swap with the U.S. Forest Service. The county traded 267 patented mining claims totaling 1,258 acres to the federal government, receiving 125 acres at the old tree farm in El Jebel along with Eagle County in exchange.The Forest Service wouldn’t accept the Twilight Lode as part of the exchange because it thought the county’s ownership would be too hard to prove.Grant Timroth filed suit against Pitkin County in 2001, with his attorney, Gary Wright, arguing that the tax sale was not held on a certain date as mandated by state criteria, and therefore the county’s deed to the land was invalid. Pitkin County District Judge Thomas Ossola ruled in favor of Pitkin County in 2001.In August 2002, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed Ossola’s decision. The county appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court and received a favorable ruling last March.
On Friday, Ely said he doesn’t know how the cabin on the property was being used, but that it is “on a bad spot, since it was built on property they didn’t own.”I just discovered it was still being used, and I would have thought after the lawsuit the Timroths lost last year that anyone with a brain would have vacated it,” he said. “It’s definitely marked out as their own personal property as it’s kept locked up.”Kristin Timroth said most of their friends knew where the key to the cabin was, and they tried to be good custodians of the property by staying out of the way of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s powder tours in the area. And they were respectful of where they used snowmobiles, she said. They even held liability insurance on the cabin for several years.”It’s heart-wrenching – we knew in the backs of our minds that there was always a battle going on, but it’s hard,” she said. “It’s been a great gathering place of friends.”Mike Sladdin, a 16-year Aspen resident, said he met the Timroths through skiing and other friends. He would typically go to the cabin on Friday afternoons.”We’d enjoy the sunset, ski around and light up the wood-burning stove,” he said. “You can ski Annie’s until sunset, provided the conditions are good, and ski down at night or take the gondola down.”