The Texans are here!
A friend of mine who works in an Aspen store sent me a text last week that read, “The Texans are coming!!!” I asked her if she didn’t mean, “The Russians are coming!” She said no, that the Russian businessmen who passed through here a couple of years ago had all but disappeared and that it was the Texans that always make the downtown businesses and real estate brokers giddy with the promise of sales.
Apparently a driver had been out to the airport that morning and been told that over two dozen private jets had landed, all full of smiling, gregarious Texans. He had seen some of them himself and shuttled eight happy couples to their rental home on Red Mountain.
Before you moan and groan over the thought of tourists flocking to our town, remember that Aspen is an international tourist destination. But it’s Texans who have been visiting and investing in this valley long before the rest of the world discovered the enticements of the Roaring Fork Valley.
Even Walter Paepcke, Chicagoan CEO of Container Co. of America, worried himself with fending off eager Texan investors who were already summering here years before he even saw the place. As he commenced his furtive acquisitions of dozens of buildings and hundreds of empty lots, there were Texans who were shopping around, too.
Wrapped up in his vision of rebuilding a community from the 1940s post-war remains of Aspen, he and his buddy Walter Gropius decided they would allow only those Texans whom they found “not-unlikable” to become part of the Aspen scene and the idyllic “community building” they had masterminded. The only problem with his qualifier was that the majority of Texans he met were very affable.
In the early 1940s, two men from Paducah, Texas, were float-fishing the Roaring Fork River when several “honey-holes” filled with trout and the adjacent riverside bench caught their eye. They decided to buy that fisherman’s paradise and put up several cozy cabins to accommodate their summertime passion for fishing. Their modest fly-fishing compound became known as Little Texas.
Little Texas is just before you get to the present-day Woody Creek Tavern and its surrounding trailer-park village. Multi-generational Woody Creekers say that Little Texas brought an exciting element to the rural ranching community. The Texans who inhabited Little Texas were warm, friendly and fun-loving folk. The only negative was that the Little Texas families were only there in the summertime. When they departed for home, it was always a sad goodbye for the Woody Creekers.
If you delve into the history of Aspen’s Ute Cemetery, you will discover that in June of 1880, Aspen’s first burial was that of a Texan by the name of “Colonel” Kirby. He was a mining prospector who fell ill from “mountain fever” after his arduous journey from Texas.
Perusing Aspen’s early mining history, one learns that there was the Texas (later North Texas) Smelting Co. backed by Texas investment capital with construction taking place in 1882 and 1883. Unfortunately, the capital was spent before the business ever opened, and its furnace remained cold.
In my family’s migration from Texas, my grandparents traveled all the way from southeast Texas and arrived in Ruedi via train in 1911. They found the mountain air and vast beauty to be a salubrious environment for their growing family. Many years later, in the late 1950s, my father returned to the area; his inspiration stemmed from childhood memories of Ruedi and the allure of superb skiing.
For more than a century, Texans have cut a wide swath through this area. They are known for their generosity toward local nonprofits and cultural organizations and even sheltering and caring for Aspen’s homeless animals. They love to have a good time and enjoy getting to know new friends. Women from the Lone Star State are legendary for their power-shopping, frequent salon visits and warm smiles.
A close friend in the restaurant business for many years here finds her Texas patrons to be endearing and relaxed. Often they respond to the wait time for a table with a comforting drawl of, “Honey, you just bring us another round of cocktails, and we’ll be just fine.” More often than not they are big tippers, lovely hosts and talented creators of a good time. From lobster boils pig roasts and huge picnics, the Texas style of entertaining never disappoints. Texans always have been enamored with Aspen’s appeal, and they have a history of treating her well.
And lest we forget, from 1836 to 1845, the panhandle of the Republic of Texas had a long slender finger that reached all the way into Wyoming, which made a generous portion of present-day Colorado a part of Texas. Until the Republic of Texas sold that region to the United States in 1850, Aspen was in Texas. Yep, it’s true, y’all.
Margaret Reckling lives in Woody Creek and welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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