Aspen Historic Sites And Memorable Places: How It All Got Started

Wheeler/ Stallard Museum

The Wheeler/ Stallard Museum is a Queen Anne-style, Victorian family home built in 1888 by Jerome B. Wheeler. The historic building is on an entire city block and was one of many stately properties in Aspen's West End neighborhood.

Edgar and Mary Ella Stallard moved in 1905, eventually purchasing the house in 1917. The family lived there for forty years. In 1945, she sold the home to W.C. Tagert, who immediately sold it to Walter Paepcke. Paepcke, widely considered the driver of Aspen's emergence as a resort, repurposed the house as an overflow guest quarters for the Hotel Jerome, then employee housing for the hotel.

Independence Ghost Town 

Sixteen miles from Aspen up Highway 82, you can explore the ghost town of Independence, the first mining site in the Roaring Fork Valley. The Independence Ghost Town is an archaeological preserve located just below the Continental Divide. It features interpretive stations of the characters, enterprises, and structures that tell integral stories apart of the area's history.

The mining effort was short for Independence Pass but could pull $190,000 worth of gold produced between 1881 and 1882. In 1899, the worst snowstorm in Colorado's history cut off supply routes to the miners of the Independence. As the miners ran out of food, they dismantled their homes to make 75 pairs of wood skis and escaped en masse to Aspen. The residents of Independence monumentalized their endeavors by making it a race of the "Hunter's Pass Ski Club" with an entry fee of one ham sandwich.  

Harsh winds, taxing snowfalls, and irresponsible treasure hunters have devastated many buildings and countless relics. By 1974, the National Register of Historic Sites added Independence to protect the town. Several cabins were revitalized in the mid-1980s, thanks to the endeavors of Hall of Fame, Aspenite Ramona Markalunas, and many other volunteer groups. Today the ghost town of Independence is a mere trace of its former mining glory but still delivers a fascinating glimpse of history. The abandoned mining town still provides mesmerizing glimpses of history through the lens of the ghost town of Independence.    

Ashcroft Ghost Town 

Ashcroft is 11 miles from the roundabout up Castle Creek Rd. by heading south from Aspen. Ashcroft is now a ghost town due to the lack of silver it once provided, which boasted 14,000 ounces of silver per ton. Ashcroft still has restored remains of several historical buildings, a saloon, a post office, and a hotel. 

A resident guide is on-site during open hours, and informative signage tells stories of the former boom town lodged among stunning alpine meadows. One remarkable quality of Ashcroft is its location close to Castle Creek, providing dozens of wildlife to see. If you come across the Post Office, you should know that it is the only original piece of architecture in the exact location where it stood constructed. 

Holden/ Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum

If strolling along some of Aspen's bike and walking trails seems more entertaining, you should visit the Holden/ Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum! The museum is located at 40180 HWY 82. It is adjacent to the public bike path on the Marolt Open Space across the pedestrian bridge at 7th Street.  

​​The original grounds sprawled over 22 acres boasting state-of-the-art technology to extract silver from low-grade ore. In the 1800s, the Holden Lixiviation Works mining boom started, and Aspen quickly became one of the country's largest silver producers. 

The Holden/ Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum is open during the summer and used for public programs and special events. The Aspen Historical Society operates the museum and grounds on city-owned land. 

Maroon Bells covered in snow during late fall

Other Tours: More Unforgettable Memories 

Hotel Jerome: Lounge in the exemplary lobby of the Jerome Hotel, unwinding in the history and the culture of the town's early happenings since 1889.   

History Coach: Gain a new intimacy with historic Aspen through a guided tour around Aspen, the Historical Society's electric vehicle, including visits to Wheeler/Stallard Museum and the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum.

Victorian West End Walking Tour

Archive Tours

On-Mountain History Ski Tours & Ski-Co Guides

Historic Pub Crawl

Red Butte Cemetery Tour 

3D Virtual Tours 

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