Whether you’ve lived in or near this community all your life or you’re buying a new home in Aspen, you probably know that this part of Colorado has a rich and storied history. If you’d like to get a closer look at what made Aspen the bustling town it is today, here’s where to go.
Where to Get a Quick Peek Into Aspen History
Though there are a number of historic landmarks and special places to see, these are the four attractions you should visit to get a sneak peek into Aspen’s history:
- Holden-Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum
- Wheeler/Stallard Museum
- Red Onion
Scroll down for a closer look at each.
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Aspen History Stop #1: Holden-Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum
Tucked away in an old barn, the Holden-Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum is on the Holden Lixiviation Mill, and it’s packed with information about this town’s silver boom and ranching history. You’ll see silver refining artifacts from the 1890s on display, as well as have a chance to explore the remains of a family ranch founded in the 1940s.
The mill here was one of only 18 around the world, and it was designed with the most sophisticated technology of the time. Its goal was to refine low-grade ore and make it more marketable. After the mill went bankrupt and closed down, the Marolt family purchased the land and used it for cattle ranching and raising a variety of other animals, as well as growing crops.
Aspen History Stop #2: Wheeler/Stallard Museum
This Queen Anne-style Victorian home, built in 1888, takes up an entire city block. Though Jerome B. Wheeler built this mansion for his wife, she refused to leave her home – and the family never lived in the house. In 1905, It had its first residents – Edgar and Mary Ella Stallard.
On the first floor of the museum, you can tour what a real Victorian home was like during its heyday. On the second floor, you can explore rotating exhibits that showcase various periods in Aspen history.
Aspen History Stop #3: Red Onion
The Red Onion is Aspen’s oldest restaurant – it opened its doors in 1892 and continues to operate today. This local landmark it’s actually one of the oldest restaurant saloon’s in the country, and though it has passed through many owners over the years (and undergone several interior renovations), it still maintains its historic spirit. In fact, today, the bar room looks almost identical to the way it looked in 1892; its owners have taken great pains to restore it to its original condition. You’ll also find a number of historic artifacts they have been there all along, including two handcrafted Hungarian figures sitting atop the bar, where they have remained for more than a hundred years.
Aspen History Stop #4: Ashcroft
The ghost town of Ashcroft is just 11 miles up Castle Creek Road from the roundabout at the west entrance to Aspen. This former silver mining town features restored remains of a saloon, a hotel, a post office and more. There are interpretive signs along the way that you can use on a self-guided tour.
Nearly as quickly as Ashcroft boomed, it went bust. The mines turned out to be shallow deposits, and major silver strikes in nearby Aspen took investors (and workers) elsewhere.
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