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People of the Times

Larry Fredrick
The Aspen Times published Warner A. Root's account of the early mining camp in its first edition, April 23, 1881. The staff of the newspaper are in front of the original office on Cooper Avenue, near Monarch Street. (Courtesy Aspen Historical Society)

With significant Civil War experience behind him, Warner A. Root began a newspaper career in Indiana sometime in 1870. He was a correspondent for the Rocky Mountain News in 1878 and an editor of the Daily Eclipse in Leadville during the summer of 1879. Mr. Root arrived in Aspen in November 1879 in some reporting capacity for the Leadville newspapers. He left the area in 1886 and was associated with the Daily News in Lincoln, Neb., at that time. He later became a newspaper man in Omaha, Neb.

During his short experience in Aspen, Mr. Root managed to make a significant contribution to the mining camp of Aspen. When he arrived, the Roaring Fork Mining District was still a part of Gunnison County. In April 1880, he was appointed Justice of the Peace. Warner Root was involved in helping create Pitkin County. He also helped in incorporating the town, and he was appointed Police Judge in 1882. The Aspen Times was first published in April 1881 and, with his previous newspaper experience, Mr. Root was asked to compile his recollections of the early days of the mining town. This became a lengthy composition and the newspaper published it in four installments.

In later years, Mr. Root published an article explaining his extensive knowledge of rum and its importance to him when writing. Fortunately, it appears that this habit did not interfere with his recollection of the early years of Aspen, for which we are indebted.

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