From the Publisher: Proud to be a Pilot
“With this, our first issue, we begin the publication of a paper that shall be devoted to the interests of Routt County, above all others.”
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With that, “Editor and Proprietor” James Hoyle introduced the weekly Routt County Pilot to the world on July 31, 1885. That debut issue had four dense, ad-free pages with Hoyle — also spelled Holye in that first issue — selling subscriptions for $2 per year, or about $53 today. The content included important national new (the death of former President Ulysses S. Grant), personal tales of bear encounters and interesting tidbits on a wide range of subjects. Those short items included:
- Numerous references to who was visiting whom from out of town.
- Plaudits for the opening of the “new bath house over Hot Spring and the opening of Lincoln avenue”
- Short and emphatic editorial statements — “The Elk River bridge needs repairing. It should be done at once.”
- Futuristic ponderings like “Wonder how much it would cost to make Gore Range passable?”
Seventy-seven years later, the Pilot had grown to eight pages per week by the time I was born. The busy front page of the Pilot on April 19, 1962, had 26 different articles, including news that Hayden and Yampa were to get their own post offices. Advertisers included Rabbit Ears Motel, F.M. Light & Sons (touting a $5 Tumbleweed U-Rollit straw hat for $5) and Mountain States Telephone, whose ad included a detailed step-by-step graphic explaining how to dial the new seven-digit phone numbers. The issue also included numerous ads for Pilot Office Supplies, a business owned by newspaper co-publishers Maurice and Charles Leckenby and whose revenues subsidized The Pilot.
I love reading old newspapers because they are such fun snapshots in time and diving into the Pilot archives is no different. There’s a conversational innocence to the news gathering that captures much simpler times as adventurous souls created their own destiny in this relatively isolated corner of Colorado. A century ago, it was news when someone came to town. These days, our visitors are mostly a faceless swarm that arrives and departs in waves each weekend.
And while today’s Pilot & Today journalism provides greater enterprise and more of a watchdog role than The Pilot in its early years, we continue to publish information that long has been the fabric of small-town America: The Record police blotter, weekly real estate sales, business changes, reader photos and stories, the school honor roll, fair results, local activities and much more. I hope that mix remains in our products for the next 135 years, because that’s the kind of intensely local content that creates tight bonds with you and your neighbors.
I feel blessed to be part of a local media organization with such a long, rich history. It’s extremely difficult to operate a printed newspaper these days, let alone a six-day-a-week paper with websites, mobile apps and social media channels, 11 magazines, digital-marketing products and prominent events.
Click here to read more Pilot Proud stories, view a historical photo gallery, check out the special e-edition and leave your comments in our virtual “guestbook.”
But The Pilot — an umbrella term for Pilot & Today, SteamboatPilot.com and numerous other brands — has lasted this long because our readers and advertisers believe in our mission to connect our communities. We treasure your support and look forward to continuing to provide the kind of professionally produced, intensely local journalism you’ve come to expect from us.
I feel especially proud of the advertiser support for this Pilot Proud keepsake edition. because we’re donating 20% of the revenue to the Steamboat Pilot Archives project at Tread of Pioneers Museum. Pilot & Today donated thousands of historic news photographs and other artifacts to the museum several years ago, and Tread staff is auditing and digitizing that information to ensure it can be preserved and discovered by generations to come. Archiving history is hard and noble work and requires time and money, and advertising in this special section supports that.
So, on this, the 135th birthday of what is said to be the oldest business in Steamboat Springs, I hope you enjoy this “Pilot Proud” celebration of our newspaper and the rich local history we have been privileged to document.
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Thirteen-year-olds can AirDrop Simpsons memes from across the room, and artificial intelligence made chess masters like Garry Kasparov obsolete. But for all our technological advances, at home, we’re still cavemen.