What Colorado town will be stand-in for Aspen in 1970?

Leadville has an elevation of 10,158 feet on Harrison Avenue, and plenty of mining slag on the surrounding hills. 2008 photo/Allen Best

What Colorado town now most closely resembles Aspen in 1970?

by Allen Best

ASPEN, Colo. — In 1970, the writer Hunter S. Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County. The county seat and principal town is Aspen.

Thompson narrowly lost the race, but as with everything that Thompson did, it was a colorful affair. That race – and the milieu – is now being represented in a film

being produced by Bobby Kennedy III called “Freak Power.”

Much about Pitkin County hasn’t changed all that much, but Aspen itself has been radically transformed. In 1970, the grime and peeled paint of what one author called “the quiet years” of Aspen remained. The phrase referred to the period from 1893, when the silver-mining boom ended, to 1946, when the modern resort era began.

The Hotel Jerome has been a fixture in Aspen since its construction during the silver boom of the 1880s. Photo/Allen Best

A central fixture in Aspen’s several lives has been the Hotel Jerome, elegant at its inception and elegant today, after several refurbishments. But for several decades after World War II, the hotel bar served as a rollicking place for skiers and whomever else, and a hangout for Thompson and other locals.

The Denver Post says that Kennedy – the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, the presidential candidate assassinated in 1968 — is now searching for a stand-in for the Aspen of that less polished time. Buildings in Telluride, Durango, and Silverton have been nominated, as have others in Gunnison, Crested Butte, and Georgetown.

The Post didn’t say this, but Mountain Town News will: There can truly only be one town in the running here to replicate Aspen in 1970, and that has to be Leadville.

Budgeted for $1.85 million, Kennedy hopes to begin shooting the film in June with a cast of 100 and a crew of 73. He got a $300,000 subsidy for the effort from the state of Colorado.


About Allen Best

Allen Best is a Colorado-based journalist. He publishes a subscription-based e-zine called Mountain Town News, portions of which are published on the website of the same name, and also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines.
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One Response to What Colorado town will be stand-in for Aspen in 1970?

  1. Vaishali says:

    Very well written article. Good to read.

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