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In 1889, publisher Shelby Eli Dillard launched the Red Lodge Picket, a Republican weekly in Red Lodge, Montana. It provided regular coverage of the town’s productive coal mines and discussed the imminent arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad from Laurel, Montana, along its transcontinental mainline. Early editions of the seven-column, four-page newspaper featured world news, reports from the state legislature, and local politics.

By 1893, a new editor took charge. Edward L. Boardman was a veteran of the New York Tribune who also worked on the Billings Gazette and Helena Herald before landing in Red Lodge. Under his direction, the Pickett sought the support of agricultural interests and the business community, while maintaining its distance from organized labor and the Finnish immigrant population, who by the beginning of the 20th century, constituted a large segment of the region’s coal mining workforce. During the 1894 election to determine the location of the state capital, the Pickett threw its support behind Butte “Copper King,” William A. Clark, by attacking his rival, Marcus Daly.

By 1905, stories of local issues such as a new sewage system, an addition to the Northern Pacific depot, and a new county high school filled the front pages of the Picket under its new editor, Walter Alderson, a veteran newspaperman with ties to Livingston and Billings, Montana. Alderson’s brother, Adelbert M. Alderson, served as Montana Secretary of State and also worked in the newspaper business. The Red Lodge Picket included reports from the surrounding towns in Carbon County and a regular feature depicting cattle brands, demonstrating the importance of ranching in the county. News of a Republican landslide both at home and in the nation at large filled the Picket in November 1906.

The Red Lodge Picket ceased publication in 1907, but continued under different titles for a number of years afterward.

Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT