The Quiet Years: 1893-1936

In 1936 the first glimmer of hope for Aspen’s recovery arrived in the form of a relatively new winter sport that would take advantage of the area’s abundant, light snow and dramatic terrain: skiing. The new potential “boom” would be put on hold with the onset of WWII a few years later.

1893
Aspen reaches a peak population of 10,000 to 16,000. Congress repeals the Sherman Silver Act, demonetizing silver. Following the Silver Panic, Aspen begins a long downward slide. Women’s Suffrage in Colorado is enacted by popular vote.

1894
A 2,350 lb. silver nugget is mined from the Smuggler. A few mines reopen on a limited basis, many are leased. Overall silver production is less than half that of 1892.

1895
Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph builds a phone line over Independence Pass, connecting Aspen to the outside world for the first time.

1899
Street car line to be torn up on Main St.

1901
Jerome B. Wheeler declares bankruptcy.

1903
Salvation Ditch is constructed.

1906
Colorado Midland Railroad is bankrupt.

1910
Hallam Lake is sold to DRC Brown. De-watering of the flooded Smuggler, Molly Gibson and Free Silver mines begins.

1912
Two fires, within 9 days, gut the Wheeler Opera House.

1913
The Isis Theater opens.

1917
Mining continues on a limited basis as the town becomes a supply center for local farmers and ranchers. Potatoes become the cash crop in the valley.

1918
The “Glory Hole” is created when a stope in the A-J collapses. Flu epidemic forces closure of most of the town.

1920
Rio Grande RR experiencing many accidents and delays. The Colorado Midland RR returns to Aspen only to dismantle the line.

1924
Independence Pass Highway that began in 1911 is officially completed.

1926
The Aspen Smelting Company suspends operations.

1929
Black Tuesday—the stock market collapses.

1936
Survey of Aspen/Ashcroft area by André Roch for Ted Ryan, Billy Fiske and Tom Flynn who then build the Highland Bavarian Lodge on Castle Creek. A six-passenger boat tow, powered by an old mine hoist and truck engine, is constructed at the base of Aspen Mountain