Snowmass History: Judge Watson plants potatoes

Aspen Historical Society
Two men sitting on a plow that is being pulled by a team of two mules. The plow could actually be a potato planter.
Aspen Historical Society/Masterson Estate Collection

The Aspen Daily Chronicle reported on May 23, 1891 that “Judge Watson went down to his ranch on Brush Creek yesterday to oversee the planting of a large crop of potatoes. The judge expects to have a corner on the market when the tubers are ready to ship.”

Valley farms began growing potatoes for mass production starting in the 1890s and increased into the early 1900s, peaking in 1909 at 225,500 bushels (for the valley). Yields began to decline after 1909 partly because of blight that lives in the soil, but ranchers learned how to replenish the soil by rotating their crops—potatoes for two years, grain for two years, and alfalfa hay for six years. 

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