After 132 years, the Littleton Independent presses on

First edition of newspaper published this week in 1888

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This week marks 132 years since the first edition of this newspaper was published, and the Independent would like to take a moment to wish itself a happy birthday.

On July 21, 1888, H.V. Bullock cranked out 500 copies of the Littleton Gazette — later renamed the Independent — on a Washington hand press in the basement of the Harwood Inn, which stood roughly where Sushi Basho does now, at the west end of downtown.

Richard Little, our town’s namesake, paid Bullock $2 to become the paper’s first subscriber, 26 years after Little filed for a homestead here.

It seems fair to note that Bureau of Labor Statistics data says $2 in 1888 translates to roughly $55 today, meaning the Independent’s current annual subscription price of $40 is a relative bargain.

Historians say a total of 19 newspapers have come and gone in Littleton through the years, including the Arapahoe Herald, which printed its last edition in 1974. But Littleton’s first newspaper is still here, still endeavoring to cover the finest town in the state.

“We are here by the wish of the people who understand the value of the press, and shall do our best to earn their commendation,” Bullock wrote in that first edition.

We still strive to live up to Bullock’s original intent for the paper: “Politically this paper will be independent. … It holds no reserves of unkindness for any one. It falls heir to no enmities. Frankly and honestly it asks for public support with the belief that it will return an equivalent in full measure.”

Littleton was a very different place in 1888. With fewer than 100 homes within the city limits, Bullock noted the town was home to several merchants, a flour mill, two churches, three railroad depots servicing 30 passenger trains a day, and a “large and commodious school building,” with educational programs “as good as can be found in Denver.” The town consumed 500 tons of coal per year, he added.

In the 132 years since that July day in 1888, the Independent has covered the town’s triumphs and tribulations, as it grew from a sleepy farm town to a bustling suburb pushing 50,000 people. Old-timers still recall legends from the paper’s past, names like Ed Bemis and Houstoun Waring.

Though we live in a world that would have been difficult for Bullock to imagine, some things remain the same. As he wrote 132 years ago this week, “You can travel the state over and not find a more elegantly located town nor a more desirable place to live… This is certainly one of the most lovely spots in Colorado.”

Thank you to our loyal readers, and may we celebrate many more birthdays to come.

Click here to read early editions of the Littleton Gazette and Littleton Independent at the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection. 

Click here to subscribe to the Littleton Independent!

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