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People of the Times

Red Rowland in a Wintersköl parade. (Courtesy Aspen Historical Society )
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Editor’s note: People of the Times, past and present, fill part of our pages on alternate weeks. These vignettes are written by various locals and assembled by the Aspen Historical Society to remind us that history is more than bricks and documents.

Born in 1908 in Aspen, Harold “Red” Rowland built a full life that included a family and the lifts that made Aspen’s ski era hum. “Red,” named for his red hair and freckles, thrived in the outdoors, especially on horseback. As a kid he once rode a horse from De Beque to Aspen, milking cows for sustenance along the way. His father died in the 1918 flu epidemic, and Red left school early to work on area ranches. He met his wife, Peggy (Cooper) Rowland on horseback. They had four children, Fleeta, Roine, Jack and Jill. During tough economic times, Red worked on several grueling projects, including construction of the Twin Lakes Tunnel and Lostman Reservoir. He had a warmhearted spirit, always helping to plow driveways for snowbound Aspenites. He will be remembered most for his innovative and diligent work in building Aspen’s ski lifts. After 30 years with Aspen Skiing Corp., he retired as vice president of engineering. Red loved Aspen, and had a favorite saying: “I’d rather be a lamppost in Aspen than a millionaire anywhere else in the world.” His place in Aspen history is marked by two ski runs: Red’s Run (Aspen Mountain) and Red’s Rover (West Buttermilk). – Kristine Crandall

Original source materials for research are invaluable in establishing the “real history” of Aspen. Because of a considerate donation several years ago, the Aspen Historical Society is in possession of a few “letterpress” books of correspondence between Mr. S. I. Hallett and the absentee owners of the Smuggler Mine. Sometime in 1882, Mr. S. I. Hallett, having been involved with merchandising and transportation, moved from Ashcroft to Aspen where he quickly established himself in the mining industry. By 1885 he had become the chief accountant for the Smuggler Mining Company. In 1887 he added the title of chief bookkeeper of the Compromise Mine. In 1892 he became the manager of the Rust Sampler and in 1893 Mr. Hallett was the Superintendent of the Smuggler Mine and the manager for the Aspen Sampling Works and Smuggler Concentrator.During this time Mr. Hallett is also credited with the invention of the Hallett Table, a method of ore separation. From 1900 to 1903 he was a state senator representing the Aspen District. He invested well in the stock market and though he had a second home in Denver, he died on May 18, 1913, at his Aspen Home at 430 West Francis. – Larry Fredrick

When Fred Iselin died, the era of the stellar ski school directors in Aspen died with him. Fred kept a promise to himself to make Aspen Highlands a big competitor of the Aspen Ski Corp. All lodge managers in Aspen were invited to become ski instructors at Highlands. (This is exactly how I got into this racket.) He hired the best ski instructors around town and abroad. While Snowmass had the Norwegian instructors, Highlands had a much more eclectic mix of instructors, and it turned the mountain into a paradise of teaching for all levels. When GLM {Graduated Length Method) appeared on the horizon Fred snapped it up as a great method for expanding the beginner-skier market. I believe that his greatest achievement was the design of Highlands and the addition of new lifts to expand terrain. In his era, the downhill course on the western side of the mountain was a screamer. There is a story that goes with the Loge, Grand Prix, Moment of Truth downhill course. Fred’s dream was to continue snaking the course down the mountain past the flats of Moment of Truth and then dropping to Maroon Creek on the Deane property. His plan was to build a lift and have the Deanes build a hotel – then, in the heavily Swiss-accented words of Fred Iselin, “It will be better than the Hanenkammen.” When I am bored in the offseason, I go to the library and read Fred’s old columns in the Aspen Illustrated News; they are the funniest accounts of 1960s Aspen you can read. And they exemplify the character of this great ski school director who influenced so many in this town. Aspen has many characters in its history, but, in my opinion, Fred Iselin is way in front of my top five.- Andy Hanson

By the time Dwight Shellman came to Aspen in the late 1960s, he had experience with neighborhood-based activism on school-integration issues, stints as an assistant city and a trial attorney, and a passion to be involved in important community affairs. This combination made it easy for him to become a civic-minded mover and shaker during a time of transition. As an attorney with the law firm of Holland & Hart, he relocated with his family from Denver to the Aspen office in 1968. He opened his own law office in 1970 in the Wheeler Opera House building, when he met and partnered with Joe Edwards. And the two partnered in a bigger way, both successfully running for Pitkin County commissioner in 1972. Their common platform rested on preserving the county’s rural flavor, especially through controlling development. In four years as county commissioner, Dwight helped make new policies such as the controversial downzoning, designation of sensitive agricultural and environmental areas, and the process for neighborhood caucus input. Since then, he has continued to motivate citizen groups to speak up and participate in political decision-making. His work has contributed to the success and strength of the Woody Creek and Snowmass/Capitol Creek caucuses – classic examples of Dwight’s favorite motto: “Act globally by acting locally.” – Kristine Crandall

Carla thrives on debate, but you rarely win. She’s too sharp, well-read, just too Carla. So we’re in Alaska promoting a book and need to get to Valdez on a research venture. It’s after the oil spill, all flights booked. Plus Carla hates to fly, she mentally holds planes aloft. With her iron will, it’s not a difficult feat. Still, I’m stunned when she hires a plane, single-prop, and a pilot named Tom. I ask, “Are you nuts?” But Carla stands firm.We board, check out the survival kit, fly uneventfully to Valdez, and meet back with Tom on schedule. I’m relaxing – we can always ditch in glassy Prince William Sound, survive, perhaps, when suddenly Carla says, “Hey, Tom, can we fly back over the glaciers?”We turn inland toward towering ice walls littered in plane wreckage. Tom’s snickering. I’m freaked. But the new and improved Carla thrills to the challenge.I still suffer bad ice dreams. To this day, Carla flies utterly stress-free.- Molly Swanton


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