There's more to Aspen Snowmass
than amazing ski slopes and mountain biking trails. Before it was known as a world-class destination, Aspen was a historic mining town, put on the map with a silver boom. Now home to many buildings and ghost towns rich with history and old folklore, there are plenty of opportunities for you to learn more about Aspen’s glory days. Here are a few of the top historical attractions this summer:
Photo: Aspen Chamber
Once a booming silver mining town 11 miles south of Aspen, Ashcroft is now a ghost town whose fortunes ran out by the late 1880s, as Aspen's fortunes were rising. Its last resident died in the 1930s, but now resident "ghosts" are on hand to answer questions. Tours are available through the Aspen Historical Society, taking place daily from 9–5 p.m., June 16–Oct. 7.
Historic Pub Crawl
Photo: Aspen Snowmass
Why not learn more about Aspen's unique history with a drink in hand? The historic pub crawl takes guests through Aspen's historic haunts, where they’ll learn about each establishment's history and hear local lore. The tour meets at the Red Onion, and will pass through Aspen Brewing Co. and J-Bar. The tour takes place every Thursday at 3:30 p.m., June 15–Sept. 28, and the fee includes a special drink at each location.
Taking place Tuesday–Saturday at 10:30 a.m., visitors and guests can take a guided tour of downtown Aspen in the History Coach, a unique electric vehicle, to gain new understandings of Aspen's transformation from a mining town to a ski town, and ultimately a year-round, world-class resort. The History Coach will make stops at both the Wheeler/Stallard Museum and the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum.
Photo: Aspen Snowmass
Aspen's iconic Hotel Jerome
has been at the center of Aspen lift since the doors opened in 1889. Tours of this historic building take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30–2:30 p.m. The elegant Hotel Jerome houses a number of restaurants, and most notably J-Bar, where patrons can order the infamous "Aspen Crud," a milkshake infused with numerous liquors that was the preferred (and off-limits) drinks of Tenth Mountain Division Soldiers training during WWII.
Silver may have been the metal that ultimately fueled Aspen's economic growth, but it was gold that helped establish the first successful camps in the area that later became the town of Independence, founded in 1879. Although mining in Independence was short-lived, over $190,000 worth of gold was produced between 1881 and 1882. Now resident "ghosts" are there to answer questions, as well as assist with self-guided tours. Tour through the Aspen Historical Society are available daily from 10–6 p.m., June 17 through Labor Day.
A tour through Smuggler Mine truly brings old mining stories to life. Known as one of the most famous and productive of Aspen's mines, the Smuggler once produced a world-record nugget of nearly pure silver that weighed almost a ton, and ultimately had to be broken into three pieces to be transported out of the mine. A guided tour through Smuggler mine takes guests into the mine itself, showing firsthand just how hard rock mining was in the late 19th century.
Victorian West End Walking Tours
Aspen doesn't just have historic buildings, but also historic homes that come with rich histories and stories of the long-gone, original homeowners. This walking tour will focus on Aspen's Victorian West End, providing information on the history and architecture, as well as little-known facts about the homes themselves and the people who lived in them. Walking tours take place Tuesday–Saturday at 10:30 a.m.