Mining belt map

One of the vintage maps — dated 1891 and measuring 15 feet long — documents every building that stood at that time from the townsite of Aspen down to Woody Creek, with the Roaring Fork River and railroad line for reference.

The 1891 survey map is just one of a treasure trove of never-before-seen maps, photographs and documents from Aspen’s mining heyday being displayed at Valley Fine Art. An opening reception for the exhibit is today from 5-9 p.m. and will include a talk at 6 p.m. by local historian Larry Frederick about the collection and the mining era.

Gallery owner and exhibit curator Mia Valley has been collecting mining-era photographs of the area and mining-stock certificates and other documents for about 10 years. She had no intention of showing them — Aspen’s history is her personal passion — until she acquired the map collection from the estate of John H. Marks, a U.S. deputy mineral surveyor in Aspen during the mining boom who made many of the maps for clients involved in mining claims.

“The whole show is a step back into memory lane,” said Valley, who believes this is the first exhibit of its kind in Aspen. “I just wish I had more room.”

Some of the maps are exquisitely detailed, the outlines of the long, rectangular mining claims drawn precisely over Aspen’s grid of streets and other features. Outside of downtown, Gibson Avenue (site of the Sunset Lode) and Williams Ranch are on the maps, as are surveys that include Ashcroft, Tourtelotte Park and even the Fryingpan Valley, which also had a number of mining claims. A U.S. Geological Survey topo map of Aspen from 1891 — by one J.W. Powell — details the railroad, rivers, lakes, pipelines and shafts of the area, complete with contour lines.

There are vintage photographs (some are called boudoir cards) of Aspen Mountain, the Castle Creek Bridge with a train going over it, the Wheeler Opera House, views of Aspen townsite and Basalt. Among the mining documents are a patent application and two original plats from the Aspen Consolidated Mining Company. Valley is also showing — and selling — her collection of 300 vintage Aspen postcards from the late 1800s to the 1950s.

The final in a series of four talks related to the exhibit takes place on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 5 p.m., when Douglas Beck, author of “Early Aspen: 1879–1930,” discusses the rise and fall of silver.

All of the pieces in the show are for sale, and a portion of the proceeds from the opening benefits the Aspen Historical Society. For more info about the show and to view a selection of the pieces, visit

Flavors of Latin America

Fans of The Cottage Aspen’s occasional public dinners, or those who have never tried them, have one last chance (well, three, actually) to indulge in a unique, gourmet three-course meal before this quaint and enticing venue closes on April 15.

The Cottage is hosting the Latin America Dinner Series, with guest chef Byron Gomez, on Tuesdays through March 5. An Argentinian Feast (on Feb. 19 and March 5) features that country’s take on tamales, empanadas, cheeses and, of course, an asado de carne (grilled steak) with chimichurri sauce. At the Flavors of Mexico dinner (Feb. 26) you’ll sample ceviche, Mexican sauces, tacos and mole chicken.

“The idea is to do something super authentic, with the chef introducing flavors that are unique to Aspen,” said Emily Whipple, director of events and sales for The Cottage and its sister properties, the Cooking School of Aspen and Rustique Bistro.

Chef Gomez, a native of Costa Rica, is in town with EMP Winter House, the dining pop-up from Eleven Madison Park that’s taken up temporary residence at the St. Regis. He wanted to get involved with the Cooking School during his winter stay, said Whipple, and thus the idea of a Latin American-themed dinner series was born.

Local restaurateur Rob Ittner is selling his trio of epicurean ventures, with the closing set for April 15.