Historical Details

Birth of The Lusk Herald, and Some Reminiscences by the Editor Who Founded It

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 05/28/1936

Part Two

by J.K. Calkins

In the spring of 1886, Ed Egan of the Chadron Neb., Journal purchased a power press and an entire new outfit. Having an old Washington hand press and a bucket full or two of ancient type left on his hands, he wished it off on me, and suggested that I launch a newspaper at the new town of "Silver Cliff," Wyoming territory, which was located 85 miles up the right-of-way of the new railroad then being built to Central Wyoming, now part of the Chicago & Northeastern System, but first known as the Wyoming Central and later as the F.E. and M. Ry.

Like most printers of the day, I was mighty shy of funds, so I skirmished around until I ran onto a sub-contractor who was going up the line in a buckboard, and was willing to take me along. We stopped at Ft. Robinson, as my friend wished to buy a lot of condemned army harness, etc., so we had to camp at the head of the White River Canyon. The coyotes furnished a lively concert in the evening, having got a whiff of the culinary preparations at our camp fire, but we were soon sound asleep. I shall never forget the feeling of exhilaration that camp over me when we turned back the tarpaulin in the morning and filled my lungs with the crisp spring air just at sunrise. Our bed was made on the ground, as we had no tent. And that breakfast of flapjacks, sow belly and coffee! Will anything ever taste so good again!

At Harrison, my good friend decided to stop, so I was delayed until I found a grading contractor with a team and wagon who was going farther up the line. That night the weather was threatening, so I made my bed down in a grader's tent, where I annexed several varieties of vermin, which forced me to patronize the Pioneer Drug as soon as I reached the new town of Silver Cliff (now Lusk) early the next day.

That morning I purchased a 12x20 foot tent from a grader who was quitting, and when I reached the field of my future labors, I had just $5.00 left in my pocket. Jim Hogle ran a tent hotel , as well as a saloon, and I exchanged my last bill for one of his 21-meal tickets and slept in the tent.

I worked hard the next few days and secured some advertising and the promise of a few subscriptions, so I wrote a lot of copy on the future greatness of the "Banana Belt of Eastern Wyoming." I had reliable information that the town would be moved about a mile east and its name changed to Lusk as soon as the rail head reached there. so you see The Lusk Herald is rally older than Lusk.

During the publication of the first few issues of the Herald, Capt. W. F. Louger, the pioneer furniture dealer of Lusk, helped with the press work, inking the forms of the Washington hand press with the big roller, and I pulled "the devil's tail." He took his pay in job printing and advertising, and we were both happy. There were only one or two board buildings in the old town of silver Cliff, most of the business being conducted in tents, and it was a cold day when some pilgrim failed to roll in, erect a tent and open some sort of joint, most frequently a saloon or a restaurant.

Fred Swartz's meat shop carried mostly venison and antelope meat as regular lines , but many of us killed our own meat, as the prairie literally swarmed with antelope and the timbered hills and ravines north of town were well supplied with deer.

In a short while while the railroad hove in sight, the new townsite was platted, and there was a hot time in the old town, as everybody wanted to get settled in new quarters before the stock shipments began.


Richards Bros. erected the first frame building in the new town, a small bank. I followed with The Herald building, and the Pioneer Drug Store went up next door. Nat and Jack Baker soon had the largest general store in town, and J. F. Patterson followed with a good grocery store and dry good store. Then came John Giinther's hardware store, Capt. Lounger's furniture store, Fred Redington's "Palace" livery stable, and other business houses, containing eleven saloons and gambling joints, and Johnny Owen's famous dance hall. With this start, the town was well on its way to becoming one of the finest little cities in Wyoming, and The Herald as one of the leading newspapers of Wyoming.

I want to express to Editor Griffith my sincere appreciation of the honor he confers by wishing to print my picture at the head of this article on the front page, and my extreme pleasure in knowing that my "brain child" of 50 years ago has fallen into the hands of so competent and worthy a publisher. May Editor Griffith and The Herald live long and prosper, is the sincere wish of

J.K. Calkins
1853 Twelfth Street, Santa Monica, Ca.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Baker, Jack (10/05/1888 - 08/27/1968) View Record
Obituary Giinther, John (06/02/1901 - 12/09/1964) View Record
Obituary Baker, Jack (11/30/-0001 - 11/30/-0001) View Record