ONCE UPON A TIME …
The first newspaper of what would later become Rio Blanco County was born in Meeker, Colorado on August 15, 1885.
Mr. James Lyttle was an Irish immigrant who had worked in a newspaper in Leadville, Colorado. He must have loved the job, as he bought basic materials in 1883 from a defunct newspaper in Kokomo (near Leadville.)
Lyttle began to look for a place to settle down. He heard that the town of Meeker was starting up and might be interested in having a local newspaper, so in 1884 he took a train from Leadville to Red Cliff, as far as the railroad went at the time. . Then he rented a horse and drove to what is now Dotsero and rode the Flat Tops.
Lyttle liked what he saw in Meeker, so he and his co-worker Jack Houston packed up all of their printing gear and brought it into town. According to local legend, the press got stuck in mud on a pass, delaying the first issue for about two weeks.
the Herald was officially born on August 15, 1885. The Washington manual press and some of the types used in the publication of this first issue are now on display in the White River Museum in Meeker. Be sure to check out the full Herald show next time you visit!
It was a very long job to prepare all the articles that went into the paper, but there was not enough income to support two people, so Houston resigned to become Meeker’s postmaster. , leaving Lyttle a one-man newsroom.
the Herald The building was originally housed in an adobe building where the Mountain Valley Bank is now located, then moved to a frame building across the street in 1887. This location at 4th and Main Street at Meeker’s town center is where the current Herald office is now located.
HOW WAS THE PAPER PRINTED?
At the start, the Meeker Herald was a hand-drawn paper. Each character letter was put together in frames and placed on the press bed (that makes us grateful for the keyboards!) The character was inked with a big roll, then a sheet of paper was placed over it. The press operator used a crank to place the page under the press, then pulled a lever to press down.
The process was repeated on the other side of the paper, then the whole thing was folded in half to create a four page edition.
This tedious process lasted until the 1920s, when a Linotype was installed and a much faster process took its place (to see how a Linotype works, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5slfQizimtg
The hand press eventually gave way to a Hoe printing press. In the spring, the Hoe press was powered by water power from Sulfur Creek. (At the time, Sulfur Creek flowed southwest behind the Herald building on 4th and Main Streets.)
When the stream was dry, a crank was attached to the flywheel which spun the hoe and it was turned by the workforce. When the Meeker Light Factory was built and electricity was supplied throughout the city, the Hoe Press was powered by electricity.
The paper continued to be printed two pages at a time until a four page press was purchased and shipped from Juneau, Alaska. To accommodate this new press, an addition was made to the existing frame building. The Herald was printed on this “new” press until the Cook family purchased the Lyttles newspaper in May 1964.
In the 1970s, the cooks did a lot of renovation work on the building and converted the cold-type process to a more modern method of clearing. This allowed for greater flexibility in production and later, with the use of computers, a more attractive product.
Paper is no longer printed internally. It was printed at Gypsum from 2000 to 2018, and then to the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction from 2019 to July 2021, when the Sentinel shut down its press. Watch a cool video from the Herald being printed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFW7ottJyic&t=1s
the Herald is now printed weekly at Montrose Daily Press in Montrose, Colorado.
OWNERS, PAST AND PRESENT
There were only three owners of the Herald until the 1990s. They were:
• James Lyttle, who ran the newspaper until his death in 1925.
• His son, RG Lyttle, Sr. assisted by Rich Lyttle, Jr.
• the Cook family, who bought the newspaper in 1964
When James and Leota Cook retired in 1992, they sold the business to a woman named Sureva Towler. She published the Herald for a little over a year. Then Mike and Lisa Cook, James and Leota’s son and daughter-in-law, had the diary for just over a year before selling it to Glenn and Donna Troester.
The Troesters moved the location into the school’s old administration building at 6th and Garfield and ran the newspaper for about five years.
the Herald was then sold to Kerry and Joy Murdock and moved to offices in the Hugus building. The Murdocks had it about a year old when it was sold to Mitch and Meg Bettis again in March 2001. The Bettis family sold the newspaper to Niki Turner and her daughter Caitlin Walker in September 2016.
Another man from Leadville named Jim Riland had planned to come to Meeker with Lyttle but instead took a job in Aspen. In 1900, however, Riland created his own rival publication, The White River Review. Riland’s article ceased publication in 1934.
Another publication appeared in 1964. The White River Press was edited by Robert F. Sweeney and did not last long, collapsing after only two years.
THE RANGELY DRILLER AND THE RANGELY TIMES
the Remote driller published its first edition on September 29, 1949. The first publisher was Charles Baker and the first publisher was William Lahman. The Library of Congress lists the first owner as Cliff Neumann.
The publication changed hands several times before landing in the lap of local entrepreneur Bernard F. Yaeger in the early 1950s. Yaeger renamed the publication to Rangely Times and used funds from his other businesses to run the presses. Yaeger was the owner and publisher until his death in 1995. A news entry in this week Time read: “Bernard F. Yaeger, one of Rangely’s greatest and most revered fathers, passed away at the Colonial Minor Nursing Home in Glasgow, Missouri on Christmas morning. He left this world at 76, leaving behind an impressive legacy to his name.
After Mr Yaeger’s death, the company was sold to his relative, Michael Prewitt, who appointed Peggy Rector as commercial director.
The document was printed as a small tabloid on the Herald tap Meeker.
In 1996, the Troesters, owners of the Meeker Herald, were approached by the rector who asked him to buy the newspaper in difficulty. They signed the contract on October 9, 1996, and upgraded The Times to large format the following week. The Troesters released an edit for Rangely and one for Meeker, with the front pages being essentially changed every week.
In 2000 the papers were combined into one printed product and the name was changed to Hours of the Rio Blanco Herald.
Today the diary is owned by Niki Turner and her daughter Caitlin Walker. If you ask them why, they’ll tell you they’ve gone temporarily crazy (we’re joking, sort of.) Turner and Walker want local journalism to stay sustainable in Rio Blanco County. “We believe in the power of local journalism to accurately record our shared history, connect people, create a sense of community, hold power accountable and foster a healthier, happier and more informed Rio Blanco County.”
Turner and Walker brought another family member, Lucas Turner, on board in 2019 to help the Herald add media-rich and digital storytelling methods, such as a podcast and newscast created in our in-house studio. Lucas’s wife Haley joined the team in 2021 to provide specialist marketing and social media services to local businesses. Several regular contributors help fill out the diary each week, telling the story of Rio Blanco County for future generations.
In their spare time you will probably find HT the staff working on the next edition of the newspaper, chasing the smallest HTers around (Caitlin has four children and Lucas and Haley have two, making a total of six grandchildren for Niki), and yelling at the Office / Golden Retrievers mascots Nellie ‘the Newshound’ Bly and Carl ‘Bernie the Broadcaster ‘Bernstein.
By RICH LYTTLE AND THE STAFF HT