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Crystal River current. [volume] : (Crystal, Colo.) 1886-18??
Place of publication:
Crystal, Colo.
Geographic coverage:
  • Crystal, Gunnison, Colorado  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Current Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Oct. 2, 1886)-
  • English
  • Colorado--Gunnison County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01207566
  • Gunnison County (Colo.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Available on microfilm from the Colorado Historical Society.
sn 86063194
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Crystal River current. [volume] October 9, 1886 , Image 1


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Crystal River Current

"Howdy! We are little, but, O My!" exclaimed the first issue of the Crystal River Current, published October 2, 1886. The publication of the paper marked peak prosperity for Crystal, Colorado, a mining town located at 8,950 feet in the Elk Mountains of Gunnison County. Gold was discovered in the area in the 1860s, and the original camp grew as miners found rich silver veins in 1880. Also known as Crystal City, the town was officially incorporated a year later. In the mid-1880s, Crystal was home to over 500 residents, a post-office, barbershop, saloons, hotels, and the Crystal Club, an exclusive men's establishment. Silver, lead, and zinc were also mined out of Crystal, but remoteness, deep snow, avalanches, rock slides, and treacherous ledge roads leading to and out of Crystal made transportation of ore, supplies, and mail difficult. These obstacles led to Crystal's eventual abandonment. In 1889, the town had only 100 residents; in 1915, only 8 remained; by 1917, the mines were closed.

Postmaster, storekeeper, hotelier, and miner, A.A. "Al" Johnson founded the Crystal River Current and acted as its editor. Johnson's brother, Fred, who was the town's mail carrier, snowshoeing through 50 feet of snow in the winter to deliver the mail, helped Al bring a press to Crystal and set up the paper. Joseph A. Bray rounded out the newspaper's staff, acting as manager. Bray had worked on both the Crested Butte Gazette and Elk Mountain Pilot before managing and occasionally editing the Current, all by the age of 15. Johnson wrote in the January 29, 1887 issue, "What did you think of last weeks [sic] issue? It was our devil's first trial at editing a paper...this is his second. By the way, how many typographical and grammatical blunders did you perceive."

By March 1887, the paper expanded from a five to a six-column layout, and Johnson vowed to "try to give our readers the full worth of their money as well as all the news we can possibly rake and scrape up." In 1888, Thomas O'Brien replaced Johnson as the editor of the Current, which by this time had a circulation of 500 subscribers, and was described by the Aspen Evening Chronicle as "one of the most vigilant and spicy papers that reach the exchange table." The Current was listed as an Independent publication in N.W. Ayer & Son's American Newspaper Annual. The Loveland Leader described it as a People's Party paper in 1892. Columns of mining news and mine applications, patents, and notices were predominantly featured. "Brain Etchings" and "Local Splinters" reported local news and social happenings. "Colorado Condensed" and "Telegraphic Brevities" filled in items of state and national interest. The Current continued publishing in Crystal until 1892, when Johnson moved the paper to nearby and more prosperous Marble. The paper ceased publication in 1906.

Provided by: Idaho State Historical Society