The Quiet Years: 1893-1936
Following the 1893 repeal of the Sherman Silver Act, Aspen’s boom turns to relative bust. This period, known locally as the “Quiet Years,” is characterized by many hardships, regionally, nationally and globally. Ranchers and farmers make up the bulk of the Depression-era population, many of whom were European immigrants who came to work on significant infrastructure projects.
Aspen reaches a peak population of 10,000 to 16,000. Congress repeals the Sherman Silver Act, demonetizing silver. Following the Silver Panic, Aspen’s population declines sharply and the main economy shifts to ranching. 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 to local mining families. 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.
The first Pitkin County Fair is held at the racetrack where Aspen Meadows is today.
Telephone lines extended to areas including Snow Mass divide and Brush Creek residents
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 the Durant Flume was turned into a City ditch and the increased water flow caused a sink hole. Colorado Midland Railroad goes bankrupt and operations cease. 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.
D.R.C. Brown, Sr., one of the original founders of Aspen, is escorted from Denver over Independence Pass and laid to rest in Aspen.
Highland Bavarian Lodge on Castle Creek opens in December; one of first guests is Andre Roch, an avalanche expert from Switzerland contracted to survey the Aspen/Ashcroft area for the proposed ski operations during the winter/spring.