Welcome to the companion history blog for the book, Beyond the Land of Gold: The Life & Times of Perry A. Burgess. The blog will include interesting facts and images relating to the Burgess story and publishing news. Perry's path in life crossed some of the most interesting characters of the American West. The Burgess family were pioneers of Missouri, Colorado, Utah and Montana, and played major roles in the early development of communities like Boulder and Steamboat Springs. Through a series of blog posts, we will profile several of Perry's early business partners found in his diaries and other writings. Look for the series Glimpses into Yampa Valley's Past by Routt County historian/story teller David Moran. CLICK on headings or 'more' to expand each entry.

Early History of the Steamboat Pilot (& Today) Newspaper

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Steamboat Pilot: From Dream to Reality

According to his diaries, Perry Burgess longed to be a published writer. Although the popular and literary magazines of his day weren't interested in his work, he found an outlet in his local newspaper, the Steamboat Pilot .  Entrepreneur James Hoyle—friend of both Perry Burgess and his uncle, Lewis Cheney—due to health reasons wanted to relocate from Boulder to Steamboat Springs. He was intrigued by the idea of setting up shop in the new town called Steamboat Springs, and when he learned that the town was financially backed by prominent Boulder businessmen Andrew J. Macky and James Maxwell, he made the decision to do just that. Steamboat founder James H. Crawford was instrumental in attracting early businessmen like Hoyle.

The Original Steamboat Pilot office, 1886
Source: The Tread of Pioneers , by Charles Leckenby

The Steamboat Springs Town Company, eager to have the virtues of the valley publicized, donated the property upon which the first Steamboat Pilot office would sit. Although Steamboat at the time could claim only a handful of residents, the birth of the newspaper in 1885 was a monumental event.

Jane Hoyle, James' widow, recalled the grueling journey to Steamboat Springs in historian Charles Leckenby's book, The Tread of Pioneers :

”We left Boulder June 20 with three teams, one driven by J.P. Maxwell’s father, one by Marc Maxwell and the other by Mr. Hoyle.

“We went thru the mountains over Berthoud Pass and the Gore Range. We went thru Egeria Park and followed the Yampa River into Steamboat Springs, reaching there with the printing plant on July 1, 1885.

“We had to ford the streams, as there was not a bridge of any description in the whole country. When we drove into Steamboat Springs we had to follow the trail along the river. Lincoln Avenue was all sage brush at the time.
“There were just five cabins then on the bank of the river, constituting what was the town of Steamboat Springs, our new home. These were the homes of James H. Crawford and family, Harvey Woolery and family, Frank Hull and family, and Emery Milner had a small store. These were all the inhabitants Steamboat Springs could boost at that time. The Suttle family lived just above town and the P. A. Burgess family just below town. The mail was brought in on horseback in the summer time and by the aid of snowshoes in the winter.”

The first issue was published on July 31, 1885. Founder Hoyle died from tuberculosis in 1894, leaving his widow in charge. Leckenby recorded the next Pilot milestone in his book:

"I returned to Steamboat Springs in 1896 and formed a partnership with John Weiskopf in publishing the Pilot. Mr. Hoyle had died, Mrs Hoyle had returned to Boulder and Weiskopf was in charge of the Pilot. There was no lease or other arrangement, we just ran it and each partner grabbed all he could, which was not much. That was unsatisfactory to me, so I bought the Yampa Valley Democrat, the new name for the Inter Mountain, and later bought the Pilot and consolidated the papers. There was only $100 in cash involved in these transactions, the balance being a note. My old friend, Perry A. Burgess, engineered the Pilot deal for me, he being a great friend of Mrs. Hoyle, and for a time Bruce Burgess [Perry's son] was my partner. The arrangement was not satisfactory to either of us and Bruce made an offer to sell out for a modest sum but I didn’t have the money. It was then that my lifelong friend, Henry Schaffnit, Jr., let me have the money without note and without interest. He told me I was going to make good in the newspaper business, had confidence in me when I didn’t have much confidence in myself."

It was with this partnership that Perry began ghostwriting a regular column of personal recollections in the Steamboat Pilot . Those recollections, published in Beyond the Land of Gold: The Life & Times of Perry A. Burgess , provide an intimate account of one pioneer's adventures on the western frontier. Perry continued to publish up until his death in 1900.

Yampa Valley's premier newspaper continues to publish today under the name Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Rebecca Valentine

Steamboat Pilot headline published 1897. Bruce Burgess was a partner of Leckenby in 1897 and Perry's story "An Exciting Time" can be seen in the center of the page.

Charles Leckenby, Longtime friend of Perry A. Burgess
Source: The Tread of Pioneers , by Charles Leckenby

The Pilot office, Steamboat, Colorado.
Burned in 1909 with many of the only known copies of Perry's 'Pioneer Recollection'
Source: The Tread of Pioneers , by Charles Leckenby

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