History of the Lovell Chronicle

This article was written in 2006.Among the very oldest continuously-operating businesses in Lovell is our newspaper, the Lovell Chronicle, founded in 1906 as the town was incorporated. Our history is intertwined with the history of our community, which is fitting, since a newspaper’s job is, literally, to chronicle the events of a community.We are celebrating the Chronicle’s 100th birthday with this special edition.While other newspapers in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming may have been founded earlier than the Lovell Chronicle, the Chronicle may be the oldest paper to publish under the same, continuous name.The Chronicle had its humble beginnings in May of 1906 when  H.S. Jolley persuaded a relative – J.P. May – to move to Lovell and establish a newspaper.May, newspaper editor, band leader and active citizen, named the paper the Lovell Chronicle, a name it has retained.Machinery to print the paper was hauled to town from Bridger, Mont., by wagon. Housed in a small building along the old main area of town, the paper was published in what was later to become the office for the Lovell Clay Products Co. The newspaper plant soon moved, though, when other businesses began to move further south into town.May sold the Chronicle to W.M. Jones two years later, in 1908, but Jones didn't last long as editor.At the request of members of the Lovell Commercial Club, Jones left town one night, putting the newspaper in the hands of the club. Of course, to retain legal status, the paper had to be published each week. This meant that Mac Cline and a few others had to get the paper out with little or no help from experienced printers.Relief was found – and none too soon – when Reyn Leedom, an energetic editor and printer from Nebraska, took over management of the plant. Under his ownership, the plant gained new and better machinery, including a Linotype, one of the most important parts of a modern printing plant of the time.With the building of factories in Lovell, the Chronicle enlarged to properly represent the town. Special editions were issued in 1917 to celebrate the construction of the sugar factory and again in 1920 when returning servicemen from World War I published a cooperative project.The paper was active in promoting the glass factory, the brick and tile plant and all civic improvements. In later years, before Leedom left the town, he placed a great deal of effort behind the building of the road over the Big Horn Mountains, and one sharp turn was called "Leedom's Loop."In 1926, E.O. (Ted) Huntington moved to Lovell from Cody, after having lived in the lower Shoshone River Valley from 1908 to 1915 as a boy. Ted started in the newspaper business working for Ernest Shaw and L.L. Newton of the Cody Enterprise with Caroline Lockhart. He sold his interest in the paper and purchased the Lovell Chronicle.Before Huntington had even published the paper for four years, the plant was destroyed by fire in June 1930. The building on the east side of Nevada Avenue just north of Main Street was a complete loss. This incident, coming at the beginning of the Depression, might have discouraged anyone from trying to make a comeback. But as Huntington put it, "The response from the community was so prompt and sincere, it gave us the necessary spirit to start anew."While replacing equipment and becoming settled in the building on Main Street, where the paper is currently published, the paper was printed in Basin with the assistance of P.P. Anderson. The Chronicle was printed in the present location for the first time on July 31, 1930.Ted Huntington was fatally injured in a car accident near Lander on December 6, 1954, and publication of the Chronicle then became the responsibility of his wife, Francine, and his son, Burt. On October 1, 1955, Burt purchased the paper from his mother.In 1958, the Chronicle became a tabloid and soon became Wyoming's first weekly paper to use the new offset technology. On January 21, 1960, Huntington started a distinctive tradition that was to last for years, when the front page of the Chronicle featured a full-page photo. The newspaper also had a tradition of printing a full-page, full-process color photo on Easter. The front page photo was reduced somewhat later that year (1960) when the paper adopted a covered wagon pioneer setting for its flag, with the large photo below.During part of Burt Huntington's time as publisher, the Chronicle was published only 51 weeks a year, because the Huntington family liked to take a vacation during the week following Christmas and did not publish a paper that week. Because Burt Huntington was a pilot, there were frequent aerial photos used in the paper, and on May 9, 1963, Huntington converted the newspaper's flag to an aerial photo of the town.Burt and Louise Huntington published the Chronicle until the end of 1970, when they sold the paper to Roy and Bob Peck of Riverton and Ron Lytle, who took over as publisher January 1, 1971, moving to Lovell from Riverton. According to Bob Peck, the Huntingtons were planning to get out of publishing at the time, but they soon found themselves in Red Lodge, Mont., where they published the Carbon County News.Lytle switched the Chronicle format from a tabloid to a broadsheet in March of 1971, and it has retained that format ever since, moving to the standard advertising unit six-column layout in the early 1980s. For two years, Lytle ran a flag bearing a rose to reflect Lovell's noted "Rose Town of Wyoming" name. Then on March 1, 1973, Lytle instituted the distinctive wild mustang flag that was been the trademark of the newspaper ever since.Under Lytle, the Chronicle was named the top small weekly newspaper in the country in the National Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest in 1974.Lytle published the Chronicle until 1975, when he and his wife Katy moved north to Hardin, Mont., to publish the Hardin Herald. Pat Schmidt, another product of the Peck papers, took over as publisher, printing his first issue July 24, 1975. In the early 1970s, Schmidt recalls, a person could walk right into the unlocked Chronicle office and find no one there. Everyone was next door at coffee, but there was little worry about theft.Like the Huntingtons and Lytles before them, Pat and Emily Schmidt were very active members of the community during their time with the Chronicle. Under Schmidt, the office was remodeled, and a new Compugraphic Editwriter video display terminal and word processing system was installed. The newspaper continued to be an award winner.In July of 1984, Schmidt moved south to Thermopolis, where he took over as publisher of the Thermopolis Independent Record.Taking Schmidt's place at the helm was current publisher David Peck, son of the late state senator and co-publisher of the Riverton Ranger, Roy Peck, and the nephew and cousin, respectively, of current Ranger co-publishers, Bob Peck and Steven Peck. David Peck also moved into publishing out of the ranks of the Riverton Ranger, publishing his first Chronicle issue July 19, 1984. Peck and his wife Susan lived in the "Lovell newspaperman's home," the same house owned by both the Lytle and Schmidt families before them at 10 Wyoming Street.Schmidt served as president of the Wyoming Press Association in 1986, Peck in 1993.Publishing the Chronicle was mostly a family affair under the Huntingtons, and it is difficult to assemble a list of reporters/news editors from that era because bylines were not used, except for community correspondents. William Schweinler was listed as assistant editor in the early 1960s. Jeane Wagner later worked for several years as a reporter into the early 1970s.Reporters/news editors since 1970 have also included Wagner, Tracy Thompson (1974), Yvonne Harvey (1975), Mark Kitchen (1975-77), Sally Straka (1977-78), Wyoma Haskins (1978), Bruce Moats (1978-84), Scott Stackpole (1984-86), Lori Mulley (1986-87) and J.D. Mach (1987-90). Gib Fisher of Cowley also filled in at the paper in 1987 and ’88.Karla Schweighart Pomeroy had the longest run as a Chronicle reporter. She was hired in June of 1990 as a reporter/news editor. She was named editor in the fall of 1999 and continued in that role until moving to Laramie on March 31, 2006, with husband Alan. Connie Burcham was hired as the new reporter/news editor in April.In the summer of 1988, desktop publishing came to Lovell when the Chronicle went in with the Powell Tribune and Thermopolis Independent Record to purchase an Apple Macintosh computer and laser printer system, which greatly streamlined the Chronicle's operation.The paper continued to modernize, first scanning negatives in the late 1990s, then abandoning the wet darkroom and moving into a fully digital photography department by early 2004. Production gradually shifted to full pagination under the leadership of production manager Pat Parmer, and the Chronicle joined with the Powell Tribune to purchase Imagesetters (moving pages from computer to page negatives) and further streamline the operation in 2002. The digital camera work, computer pagination and the Imagesetters have allowed the Chronicle to run more and more color photographs in recent years.One of the benefits of working at the Lovell Chronicle is the view one sees by stepping out the front door. The Big Horn Mountains, with their snow-capped peaks and rugged canyons, loom to the east seemingly a stone's throw from the end of Main Street. Schmidt called it the best "newspaper office view" in Wyoming.