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The Challis messenger. : (Challis, Idaho) 1912-current
Place of publication:
Challis, Idaho
Geographic coverage:
  • Challis, Custer, Idaho  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
M.M. Sweet
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 31, no. 37 (Mar. 19, 1912)-
  • English
  • Challis (Idaho)--Newspapers.
  • Idaho--Challis.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01221383
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Contains C.C.C. papers: Camp echoes, Oct. 28, 1936-July 28, 1937, and: New Yorker, Oct. 20, 1937-June 1, 1938, and: Redfish tattler, June 15, 1938-Aug. 31, 1938.
sn 88056159
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The Challis messenger. January 2, 1918 , Image 1


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The Silver Messenger and The Challis Messenger

Royal A. Pierce first published the Idaho Messenger on May 21, 1881, in Challis, Idaho, the largest town in the newly formed Custer County. Pierce, an attorney by trade, had followed the mining rush to the mountains of central Idaho. He published the first issue of the paper on a half sheet because of lack of supplies. Pierce worked to expand the publication, and in 1888 sold the Idaho Messenger to Milton Melvin Sweet.

In July 1890, its name was changed to the Silver Messenger with the slogan, "Free and Unlimited Coinage at the Ratio of 16:1."This new name represented the interests of the mining community, which supported the Populist Free Silver movement. At this time, the federal government had stopped producing silver coinage, which decreased the amount of money in circulation and tightened the country's money supply. Proponents of the Free Silver movement, mostly in rural farming or mining regions of the country, sought to reintroduce silver coins to make the money supply more flexible. Back in 1837, Congress had established that 16 ounces of silver would be equal in value to one ounce of gold. The movement was ultimately unsuccessful, however, and in 1912, the Silver Messenger became the Challis Messenger, wherein Sweet noted, "This change is made because silver is no longer an issue and has not been for several years past." The new slogan of the Challis Messenger became, "Covers Central Idaho Like the Mountains Do."

Published weekly on Wednesdays, the Messenger consisted of eight pages with six columns. In 1894, a fire burned the printing office and publication briefly ceased during June and July of that year. Beginning in 1906, each issue of the Messenger included a quarter-page promotional advertisement for Custer County. This plug included the history of the area and a descriptive section of the county's resources, including, "mines, mills, and mining," "agriculture and stock raising," and "climate, timber, school, etc." It also stated that the population of Custer County was 5,000, although this same number was used for nearly ten years. This clip appeared weekly in the Silver Messenger, and later the Challis Messenger, until August 1915, when Melvin Milton Sweet died after 25 years as editor and proprietor. Milton Andrew Dillingham took over the paper and no longer included the promotional clip for Custer County.

Columns that appeared frequently in the Messenger included "Idaho Budget," "In the Gem State," and, "Items About People You Know." A large portion of space in every issue was dedicated to mining, including claims, sales, and patents. Also, the timber industry was a dominant topic in the Messenger, as was the surrounding Sawtooth Forest Reserve, established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 and renamed the Sawtooth National Forest in 1907. For years, the National Forest was proposed to become a National Park, but this move never gained the full support of the Idaho Legislature.

The Challis Messenger remains in publication to the present day.

Provided by: Idaho State Historical Society