Mar 1, 2013 - By Steven R. PeckAs of today, there are 60 candles on The Ranger's birthday cake.
Today is The Ranger's 60th birthday.
That simple statement is a convenient summation of a more complicated timeline.
March 1 is the date on which we recalculate our "volume" and "number." Attentive readers will note that today's front-page carries the term "Volume 107, No. 1," meaning it is the first edition of year 107.
But if it's already March, then why are we only now starting our new newspaper year? And if this is the 60th anniversary of The Ranger, then why is this the beginning of newspaper year 107?
We told you it was complicated.
First, we count March 1 as The Ranger's anniversary because that is when two weekly newspapers merged to form a new, twice-weekly paper called The Ranger.
One was the Riverton Review, owned and operated by E.T. "Beany" Childers, who had been in Riverton for about a dozen years.
The other was The Riverton Times, owned and operated by two young brothers, Bob and Roy Peck, both of whom had grown up in Riverton and had returned after service in World War II to buy a small decrepit weekly that they renamed the Times.
The Times and the Review competed side by side for four years, and it was Childers, who was more than 15 years older than the two Peck brothers, who suggested a change.
"I won't outlive you, and I can't outwork you," he said. "Let's amalgamate."
The two papers merged, 50-50. Each brought something to the table that the other needed. The Review had the history, having been founded shortly after the Riverton townsite was established in the summer of 1906. It had the newer, better equipment. It had the bigger premises at 421 E. Main St. It was established, familiar and respected.
But the Times had Bob and Roy.
They were trained, educated journalists. They seemed to know everyone in town, having been star athletes and academics at Riverton High School, Roy the valedictorian, Bob the salutatorian. Both were decorated combat veterans when the war was fresh in everyone's mind. Both had seemingly inexhaustible energy and enormous personal drive. Both wanted the best for Riverton, and both thought the newspaper was the vehicle to achieve it.
It was their father, Riverton businessman and educator LeRoy E. Peck, who suggested the name of the new paper. He thought "Ranger" had a western feel, a catchy sound, and carried the promise that the paper would "range" far and wide for news.
The final editions of both the Review and the Times were published Feb. 26, 1953. The first edition of the new Ranger was published one week later, on March 5. Since then, we've always used the first edition in March as the start of our newspaper year. That's why today is "No. 1" on the front page.
As for "volume," or year, the Riverton Review had been publishing since 1906, the year of Riverton's founding. So, the new paper, which was the uninterrupted continuation of the Review, continued to use the Review's "volume," or year. We are the direct, continuous descendant of the Review. As such, we can make a fair claim to being the oldest surviving business in Riverton.
The Peck brothers purchased Childers's remaining interest in the newspaper in 1960, the year The Ranger went from twice-weekly to five-day publication. We launched our Sunday edition in 1999 and published six days a week for a few years before returning to a five-day schedule in 2003. One of our business goals is restoring that Monday edition someday.
Roy Peck died 30 years ago last week, at age 60. Next Wednesday marks the sixth anniversary of Bob Peck's death at age 82. Both died in Cheyenne, each while serving as a state senator in the Wyoming Legislature.
A member of the Peck family still works as publisher of The Ranger. This year marks his 30th anniversary in Ranger management, although all seven of Bob and Roy's combined children spent time on The Ranger payroll beginning as children. Each of us delivered a route, pushed a broom, developed film, covered Little League, or typed up the weather forecast at one time or another, after school, on weekends, and over summers when we were teens, or younger.
Today, two other Pecks, Bob's son Chris, and Roy's son David, are in the midst of long and successful newspaper careers elsewhere.
As a business entity Riverton Ranger Inc. has had ownership interest in 12 other newspapers and a radio station through the years. Today's Ranger newspaper group also includes The Lander Journal, Dubois Frontier, Wind River News, Shoshoni Pioneer, Thermopolis Independent Record and The Advertiser.
That roster has changed from time to time since the 1960s, and it will again, no doubt. But in Fremont County, the flagship still sails. The Ranger begins its seventh decade, pleased and proud to be Fremont County's daily newspaper, and looking forward to what the next 60 years will bring.
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