Newspapers kept tabs on Glenwood’s early years |

Newspapers kept tabs on Glenwood’s early years

An early edition of the Glenwood Post, circa 1898.


The Post Independent this year will celebrate local institutions' anniversaries — including our own — with a special feature many Sundays through the year. The PI traces its roots back 127 years, but 125 as a daily, while the White River National Forest looks back on 125 years and Colorado Mountain College marks 50 years, as does Sunlight Mountain. Today we look at the first decade of newspaper publishing in Glenwood, the 1890s.

Almost as soon as there was a place called Glenwood Springs back in 1885, there were newspapers to tell of its people, places of business and politics.

Early predecessors of the Glenwood Post included the Glenwood Echo, believed to be the city’s very first newspaper, as well as the Glenwood Daily, the Ute Chief and the Glenwood Springs Republican.

Various newspapers served nearby communities in the region, as well, including the Pitkin Independent in the silver boom town of Aspen, the Carbondale Advance and the Avalanche, which had its start in the late 1880s before relocating to Glenwood Springs, according to accounts on file with the Glenwood Springs Historical Society.

The Glenwood Post (predecessor to today’s Post Independent) was founded as a weekly in 1890 by C.H. Henrie and W.G. Willis, who operated as co-editors and publishers.

It was a time when many different kinds of businesses were vying to establish themselves in the relatively new resort town that had begun to establish itself as a getaway for those looking to enjoy the healing waters of the mineral hot springs.

Competition was fierce in the newspaper trade, as Henrie and Willis went head-to-head with the likes of Henry J. Holmes, owner of the Daily Avalanche and Weekly Echo, who moved the operation to Glenwood in 1890, and a few years later with W.J. Wright and C.L. Bennett, who began the weekly Glenwood Springs Ledger.

Former Glenwood Post publisher and owner, the late John Samuelson, chronicled those early years of Glenwood newspapers in an Aug. 23, 1985, Glenwood Springs centennial special section published by the Post.

In the words of Samuelson:

“Back in the mid-1880s, the Glenwood Echo appeared as the city’s first newspaper, according to a diary kept by a local schoolboy, Olie Thorson, who later became postmaster here. He noted a January 1885 issue of the Echo in his writings. B. Clark Wheeler of Aspen was listed as its publisher and the local manager was James L. Riland, who was on board for only a year or two …”

He was succeeded by a William Cardnell a couple of years later, which was about the time the Ute Chief, run by owner/publishers J.S. Swan and William Reid, entered the picture.

“Thorson, an avid chronicler of historic happenings, had another recollection of the Ute Chief because he worked as a ‘printer’s devil’ for four months on the publication,” Samuelson wrote in his 1985 article. “That was in 1887 and he recalled that the old Washington hand press was operated by one Henry J. Holmes, who was ‘learning the ropes’ on his first printing job hereabouts.”

Holmes would go on to have a running feud for the first two decades of the 20th century with Amos J. Dickson, the puritanical publisher of the Glenwood Post who in 1898 purchased what would become Glenwood’s predominant newspaper.

According to Samuelson’s account, Holmes started the Daily Avalanche in 1892, and the Post soon followed suit as a competing daily; thus the Volume 125 that appears on the Post Independent flag this year.

“Henrie and Willis kept their fledgling business prospering for five or six years before yet one more pair of printing partners decided to enter the community,” Samuelson wrote of W.J. Wright and C.L. Bennett who began the weekly Glenwood Springs Ledger.

The short-lived Ledger merged with the Glenwood Post in 1896, but the Ledger name was dropped the following year.

Dickson bought the Post on Jan. 1, 1898, and would continue as its owner for 35 years, wielding a fair amount of power and conservative influence over the community during his tenure.

That same year saw the start of Glenwood Springs’ Strawberry Day celebration, which was being heavily promoted for June 18, 1898.

“Of all the festive days inaugurated by Colorado, Strawberry day has taken the lead,” the Avalanche declared in the Monday edition following that first festival. “When you come to look back at it, it was a gigantic undertaking for such a small town as Glenwood to assume to feed all the people in the state that would visit us to all the cake, strawberries and cream that they could eat, but we have done it and accomplished the task most successfully.”

A rather odd Strawberry “Carnival” poem graced the cover of the July 1, 1899, Glenwood Post:

“If all the hills were strawberries, and all the rivers cream.

And if, instead of snow, the hills with sugar did gleam.

If all the rocks were sandwiches. And all the valleys cakes.

And lemonade should take the place of water in the lakes.

Strawberry Day would make you —

But they ain’t.”

The Post went on to proclaim that 3,000 people had been in town for the second installment of Strwawberry Day. “Isn’t that enough to make you throw your bonnets into the circumambient atmosphere?”

The front pages of the papers in those days were as jam-packed with advertisements as news — everything from rooms at the Hotel Glenwood for between $2.50 and $4 a night to 15-cent shaves and 35-cent haircuts at the Yampa Barber Shoppe.

Among the news items were the conversion of the old Yampah Hotel into a convalescent hospital and state Sen. Edward Taylor’s plan to introduce legislation compelling railroads to fence their rights of way in order to keep livestock off the tracks, “or promptly pay for all stock killed, at its actual value.”

On the international front, the U.S. was preparing in May 1898 to send 50,000 troops to Cuba, and later that year the city of Manila, Philippines, fell to U.S. troops.

In Carbondale news, “Mrs. Ira Freeman left for Crystal last Saturday morning, where she expects to pass the summer teaching the public school. She was given a largely attended farewell party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Holland Friday evening.”

Post Publisher Dickson would soon become known for two obsessions, wrote Samuelson in that 1985 piece.

“First, he was a straight-arrow citizen who campaigned hard and at length against demon rum and its satanical followers.

“He was not just an againster. He stood for something besides law and order. And that something was the Republican Party.”

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