New museum pays tribute to mining and ranching history |

New museum pays tribute to mining and ranching history

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s history as a mining town and ranching community will be honored Friday with the unveiling of a new museum and a little – make that a lot – of old-fashioned fun.

HeritageAspen, the city’s historical society, will host a “Miner’s Day for Miner’s Pay” at the Holden/ Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum, located west of town, between Main Street and Castle Creek Road. Three bucks – a miner’s pay for a day’s work in 1891 – will get you into the day’s events, which include a 3:30 p.m. ribbon cutting for the museum.

An old-fashioned baseball game on the Marolt field (don’t panic – it’s being mowed for the game, work isn’t starting on a highway), kids’ games, contests and a hoedown are planned.

The public will also have its first chance to tour the museum, which has been in the works for more than a decade. Citizen volunteers have been assembling artifacts from the mining and ranching era, now on display at the Marolt “barn,” which is actually a remaining structure from the Holden Lixiviation Plant, built in 1891 to process ore. It was later used as a barn when the Marolt family ranched on the property.

“There’s so much passion about this event among the people who have spent the last decade over there volunteering,” said Georgia Hanson, executive director of HeritageAspen.

“This area is an absolutely critical piece of our heritage as a ranching and mining community,” she added. “The project has included the preservation of our last remaining industrial buildings from the mining era.”

Friday’s fun will begin with a 1 p.m. baseball game between the Roaring Fork Coyotes and the Colorado Territorial All-Stars, who are members of the Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association. The players will sport 1800s-style uniforms. Watch for spectators of that era, as well (reporters, politicians, suffragists and the requisite bleacher-bum cranks).

During Aspen’s mining days, the town baseball field was located just north of the Holden Lixiviation Plant, where Friday’s game will take place. Aspen once claimed a semi-pro team that could draw more than 1,500 spectators to the stands.

“It seems fitting to begin our celebration with a ball game, just like the old days,” said Larry Fredrick, local historian.

A miner’s meal will be served, and music will be provided throughout the afternoon, featuring Twirp Anderson and John Sommers, joined by Tom and Julie Paxton and Randy Utterback. Square dancing, the two-step and a polka or two are promised.

Carriage rides, children’s games and a pie-baking contest, followed by a pie-eating contest, are also planned. Celebrity judges will pick the best pies at 5:30 p.m. Competition categories include professional, individual or team adult, and mini-miners (14 and under). For details or to register, call Janine at 925-8174.

The party will wrap up at about 7 p.m.

There is no parking available at the site, so attendees are encouraged to take the bus, walk or ride a bike. A special shuttle will run continuously, from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m., to serve the event. It will stop at the Aspen Middle School parking lot and Aspen Valley Hospital, make a loop past the Marolt property, loop around Paepcke Park in town and then head back to the Seventh Street stop before repeating the route.

After the grand opening, the Holden/Marolt Museum will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. and on Wednesdays until 8 p.m. throughout the summer.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is]

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