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.

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.

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.

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

Street car line to be torn up on Main St.

Jerome B. Wheeler declares bankruptcy.

Salvation Ditch is constructed.

Colorado Midland Railroad is bankrupt.

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

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

The Isis Theater opens.

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.

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

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

Independence Pass Highway that began in 1911 is officially completed.

The Aspen Smelting Company suspends operations.

Black Tuesday—the stock market collapses.

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