ASPEN, Colo. (KREX) — Aspen, Colorado – a town nestled in the Elk Mountains along the Roaring Fork River, was founded 144 years ago, in 1879.
Eliza Voss, vice president for destination marketing and local for almost two decades says miners founded the town on Ute territory, and the curator for the Aspen Historical Society Lisa Hancock explains silver was the target.
But almost 20 years later, a governmental change devastated the miners across the country and Colorado, especially here.
In 1893, congress repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, effectively ruining the mining economy in Aspen.
Voss tells me several ghost towns still exist from the mining era.
Over time, after the silver mines faded away, the town became a ranching town, according to Hancock.
She also tells me you could buy a house in the 30’s and 40’s for back taxes – the high dollar housing didn’t come until much later.
In 1932, the winter Olympics came to Lake Placid, sparking the winter sport craze in America.
World War 2 started around the same time as the first ski resort, so soldiers were some of the first people to use them and later, build more.
Hancock tells me the famous local Opera House was built in town in an effort to attract investors for additional ski resorts.
While the ski industry started to boom, as the mining days had before them, two key players in creating Aspen’s current culture zipped into the picture, Walter and Elizabeth Pepka.
Through so many ups and downs and bumps in the road, Aspen not only survived, it prevailed. Sometimes, challenges that hurt us in the moment sculpt both people and towns into who they become – in this case, bigger and stronger than ever before.