Thursday, June 15, 2017 was “Newspaper” Day at History Camp! With 37 excited kids divided up into two groups rotating from a historic power point presentation to a tour at the museum to an activity in making their own front page news – the kids learned about James Lyttle the founder of the newspaper, how the old printing press equipment worked back in the day, how the newspaper is created today and also got to meet the current owner/editor of the Herald Times!
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Here’s the story the children heard about James Lyttle, the founder of the newspaper in 1885…
“Letter by Letter, Line by Line”
Story of Our Newspaper and James Lyttle
A newspaper is like a lot of stories put together to tell about what’s going on right now. Meeker has had a newspaper almost from the very beginning.
A long, long time ago – back in 1883, our town was started when the Army troops left and the people who were here bought the barrack buildings they left behind.
Not too far away in another mountain town and at the same time, a young man named James Lyttle, who had worked on the newspaper in Leadville, bought some newspaper equipment and looked for a place to set up shop.
He heard about the town of Meeker getting started and that they might be interested in having a newspaper. So, he got on the train in Leadville and took it to Redcliff, which was as far as the railroad went at that time. Then he rented a saddle horse and came over the Flat Tops in 1884 to see if Meeker would be a good place to live and set up a newspaper shop.
James decided that YES, Meeker would be a great place to live and set up a newspaper shop! So, he returned, hauling all his newspaper equipment with him. He brought the heavy Washington hand press and some of the type and type cases that were used in publishing their first issue on August 15, 1885!
He named the newspaper The Meeker Herald. It took a lot of work to make a newspaper because it was a hand set paper, letter by letter, line by line, and was printed on a hand press. The type letters were put together in “type frames” and placed on the bed of the press, inked with two page sheets of blank paper put in the inked forms. Pressure was applied to the paper by pulling the lever and only two pages of the paper were printed at a time.
James made the newspaper this way for nearly 40 years!
During those years, two things happened: James had a son named R.G. who grew up and learned to help him with the newspaper. And, he was able to get a faster machine called a ‘Linotype.’
James and his son R.G. ran the newspaper together until he died in 1925. R.G., or Dick as many called him, turned out to be a good newspaper man like his dad and ran it for another 40 years before selling it to the Cook family in 1964.
Today, the newspaper includes all of Rio Blanco County and is still owned by a local family that treasures its beginnings.