The Entrance to Aspen – Mr. Holden’s Fault

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In 1891 the construction of the Holden Lixiviation Works, a short-lived but cutting-edge ore processing plant, blocked the obvious straight shot route into Aspen. The road was forced to detour around the plant instead of crossing Castle Creek at Main Street.


1893 Bird’s Eye View map of Aspen showing the “S” curve traffic pattern.

Edward Royal Holden, a well-known name in the mineral reduction industry, had set out to transform Aspen’s mining enterprises by building a plant that would enable miner owners to process their silver ore locally, saving time and money. A new process called lixiviation would “revolutionize old methods and a create a new era in the mining industry.” Holden built the facility on 400 acres west of town that he purcahsed from the Colorado Midland Railroad. Although “The Works” is the largest industrial site in the history of Pitkin County, success was short lived: the plant closed during the “silver panic” of 1893 after just a few years. But Holden’s decisions about the location of the sprawling operation had already erased any chance for a straight-shot entrance to Aspen. Instead, the Castle Creek Bridge was built on Hallam Street, opening the same year as the plant in December 1891, and the “S” curves were born…

Edward Royal Holden

Click here to read the Eye of the Archive blog post about the Mr. Holden and the 2018 Castle Creek bridge/Hallam Street improvement project.