The Standard & the Miner newspaper has been with Silverton nearly since the town's founding 134 years ago. But Silverton was never an easy place to make a living.
It sure wasn't way back in 1875 when a fellow named John Curry managed to haul an 1839 Hoe press over Stony Pass and start a tiny newspaper called the Weekly Miner. It was just a little newspaper with big dreams. But things didn't get much easier after that. At one point, during the epic snow blockade of 1884, the Miner was reduced to publishing on blue wrapping paper, the only material it could get its hands on.
Several other early newspapers came and went in the early days high up in the San Juan Mountains - the Silverton Democrat, the San Juan Herald, the Animas Forks Pioneer (not to mention the mythical Gladstone Kibosh). The Silverton Standard, which started up in 1889, managed to be among the more successful. Over the years, the Standard and the competing Miner told the tales of the town - the births, the marriages, the divorces (sometimes in juicy detail), the illnesses and the deaths. They told of the mine accidents, the avalanches, disease and violent deaths.
But they also told of the proud people who were building Silverton out of a harsh wilderness, wresting wealth from the unforgiving mountains and proudly building a community despite the hardship and setbacks. By 1920, the newspaper wars in Silverton were over, with the Standard and the Miner merging.
A succession of owners have managed to keep the Standard running despite the prolonged decline and the bitter end of mining, the town's reason for being in the first place. Local ownership of this newspaper ended in 2005, when it was sold to GateHouse Media. But now, the Standard is back home, with its donation to the San Juan County Historical Society by 13th Street Media, the company that later became its owner.
The historical society sees its role as a trustee to maintain an independent Silverton Standard, and foresees the day when it could again be operated as a for-profit business.
In the meantime, donations have been coming in to help the historical society cover the sizeable costs of bringing the Standard's business office operations back to town from Telluride.
It was humbling recently when a group of Silverton middle-school and high-school students showed up at our office at the old Miners Union Hospital building with an oversized $2,000 check to help us out. And from all around the country, smaller donations are coming in from people we never even heard of.
We want to continue to share Silverton's fascinating stories. We want to celebrate many more graduations, many more Fourths, many more weddings and births. And yes, we take on the duties of sharing less joyful news as well. After all these years, we still have a lot in common with John Curry, who started it all with that first press run in 1875.
We're still running a little paper with big dreams.
Mark Esper is editor of the Silverton Standard & the Miner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.