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Aspen History


Aspen’s History 101

ASPEN, Colo. (Jan. 2019) – Aspen’s appeal is as diverse as its history. Aspen proudly claims its earliest roots as summer hunting grounds of the Ute Native American Tribe more than 125 years ago. Abundant elk, bear, and mountain lion made this valley one of the most important stops for the Ute Tribe. 

But it wasn’t hunting that first led Aspen’s national appeal in the 19th century, but the discovery of silver. From 1879 to 1893, Aspen established itself as a lucrative silver-mining town, and with it came wealth, grid-patterned streets, extravagant West End Victorian residences, and cultural landmarks with all the day’s modern amenities, including the Hotel Jerome and Wheeler Opera House. By the late 1880s more than 12,000 residents lived in Aspen, double the year-round population of today.

When silver was demonetized in 1893, most mines closed and Aspenites left in search of work in other Colorado towns. The 300 who remained entered what locals call “The Quiet Years.” It remained quiet in Aspen for 50 years. But by the late 1940s the community grew again. With an established infrastructure in place from its mining days, World War II veterans and Europeans with a skiing heritage began to imagine ski runs on Aspen Mountain. 

One of those to return to Aspen after the war was Friedl Pfeifer, a Tenth Mountain Division veteran who returned to the Elk Range where he once trained. Pfeifer founded the Aspen Ski Corporation, the Aspen Ski School, and Buttermilk Mountain, and convinced his new friend, Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke, to finance the first chairlift, Lift 1A, on Aspen Mountain.

Walter Paepcke and his wife Elizabeth first visited Aspen in 1945. They believed Aspen’s natural gifts would be an ideal backdrop for outdoor sports such as skiing and hiking, intellectual discussion, and cultural events. They wanted Aspen to be a place where mind, body, and spirit could be one. They called this “the Aspen Idea.” And that philosophy remains at the core of what Aspen strives to be today.

The Paepckes are considered the modern-day founders of Aspen. In pursuit of “the Aspen Idea,” the couple invited intellectuals, philosophers, and artists to attend the 1949 Goethe Bicentennial Convocation and Music Festival. The festival celebrated Johann Van Goethe’s 200 Aspen Institute, Aspen Music Festival and School, Aspen Design Summit (previously the International Design Conference), and the Aspen Center for Physics. Elizabeth Paepcke also donated the land and started the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (posthumous) birthday with a series of lectures, performances, and discussions, including the only U.S. appearance by philosopher Albert Schweitzer. The festival was a success, and laid the groundwork for the founding of Aspen Ideas Festival.

Today, those who live in Aspen often say they came for the winter but stayed for the summer. Warm-weather months showcase the depth of Aspen’s cultural and intellectual offerings, culinary and outdoor adventure opportunities. An Aspen vacation is a mind, body, spirit experience, whether learning a new skill, feeding a fascination, or simply absorbing the mountain spirit.



For media information and images, visit www.aspenchamber.org/media and contact Promo Communications at

Maureen Poschman • [email protected]

Melissa Wisenbaker • [email protected]

For visitor information, visit www.aspenchamber.org, or call 1.888.290.1324 or 970.925.1940. 

Connect with Aspen on Facebook, Twitter (@AspenCO), Instagram (@AspenCO), YouTube and the blog.

4th of July Parade Waiver


PARADE STARTING/STAGING: The parade will begin at 11:00am. Parade positioning is “first come, first serve” and line up begins no earlier than 10:00am. There is no entry fee and the parade is open to the public. All 5 lanes of Main Street, from Aspen Street to 2nd Street, will be closed to all traffic & designated for parade staging only. Power is not provided in staging area and remember generators do need gas.

PARADE ROUTE: The parade will start East on Main Street. It will turn South onto Hunter Street, then West onto Cooper Avenue. The parade will continue West on Cooper Avenue to Galena Street. At Galena it heads North for 2 blocks before turning West onto Hopkins Avenue. The parade will continue South on Mill then West on Hyman Avenue. Parade participants will be directed to disperse at Hyman and Monarch Street.  PARADE JUDGING: Parade judging will take place in front of the Hotel Jerome. Participants will be limited to 1 minute or less for any performances in front of the judges. Security will be onsite monitoring all entries to help prevent gaps in the parade route. Recognition will be awarded to the best entries in the following categories: 

Most Patriotic | Most Humorous | Best Animal | Best Music | Most Outrageous | Best Children’s  


  • Consumption of alcohol is prohibited during the parade.
  • Candy, favors, etc. should not be thrown from your float/vehicle during the parade. This is for the safety of the spectators and to prevent children from running out into the street. 
  • Water balloons will not be permitted. According to city ordinances, those caught throwing balloons will be removed from the parade and could face citations and/or arrests. 
  • All parade entries must be in “good taste” and will be allowed in the parade per the director’s discretion. 
  • Maximum height restriction for any float entry is 13’5”.


The undersigned organization has elected to participate in the Fourth of July parade sponsored by the City of Aspen and Aspen Chamber Resort Association (“ACRA”). In consideration for City of Aspen and ACRA allowing the undersigned to participate in the festivities, the undersigned has read, understood, and willingly agreed to the terms of this INSURANCE LIABILITY AGREEMENT and WAIVER AND INDEMNITY AGREEMENT (collectively referred to herein as “RELEASE”).


                                    Participants are required to carry insurance adequate to cover any liability for damage, injury, economic loss, or other liability that may be incurred by individuals and/or organizations during the Fourth of July parade. All participants agree to carry such insurance, and also agree not to submit any claim against the insurance of City of Aspen, ACRA and/or any other sponsors of the parade, their officers, directors, agents, shareholders, employees, or anyone else directly or indirectly connected with production of the parade.


                                         The undersigned understands the potential dangers that could be encountered in participating in the Fourth of July parade. The dangers include, among other things, dangers relating to vehicular and pedestrian traffic; crowds of persons in close proximity to such traffic; animals that may react unpredictably in a parade environment; celebration and recreational activities; loud and unexpected noise; items that may be thrown to and from the crowd in connection with the parade; and other dangers traditionally associated with parades.  Understanding those risks, the undersigned for itself and for all persons who the undersigned invites or allows to participate in the parade with the undersigned, does hereby agree to indemnify, hold harmless, and release City of Aspen, ACRA and/or any other sponsors of the parade, their officers, directors, agents, shareholders, employees, and anyone else directly or indirectly connected with production of the parade from any and all liability, claims, demands, actions, or rights of action (including attorneys’ fees and costs) that are related to or are in any way connected with the undersigned’s participation in the parade. By signing this RELEASE, the undersigned intends to extinguish any and all liability and to indemnify against any loss on the part of City of Aspen, ACRA and/or any other sponsors of the parade, their officers, directors, agents, shareholders, employees, and anyone else directly or indirectly connected with production of the parade for any injury or damage of any nature (without regard to negligence or fault) to the undersigned and to all persons who the undersigned invites or allows to participate in the parade.

                                      The undersigned warrants and represents that it will not invite or allow any person to participate in the parade unless such person is bound to the terms of this RELEASE. To that end, the undersigned agrees that it shall take any steps necessary to secure agreement of such persons to the terms of this RELEASE, and that it shall be deemed a responsible person within the meaning of C.R.S. § 13-22-107 and § 19-1103(94) for all children who the undersigned invites or allows to participate in the parade.


   I am the official representative of the undersigned organization. On behalf of the organization, I acknowledge our responsibilities as set forth above. I also accept on behalf of the organization all of the terms and conditions of this



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