Ernest Inventory Article: Newspapers from the Ends of the Earth
The Snowbound (1890):
Possibly the most daring and auspicious decision to go to print, The Snowbound is the stuff of journalistic legend. The story goes that in 1890, during one particularly perilous Nevada winter, 600 passengers were stranded in Reno on the Southern Pacific Railroad. Amongst the grounded travellers sat George T. McCully who took it upon himself to relieve the distress of the freezing people around him by printing a newspaper. On January 31st he published the first edition of The Snowbound, ‘…issued every week-day afternoon by S.P. Prisoner in Car No. 36, blockaded at Reno, Nevada’, it was a four-page daily with the outside pages written in blue ink and the inside written in pencil. Sources are unsure of how many issues actually found their way into the hands of the public, but the story goes that it wasn’t largely successful (possibly because he charged 25¢ for each issue).
The Vernon Guard (1890):
Legend has it that the wildest of the ‘Wild West’ were, in fact, the editors of the frontier newspapers that circulated throughout the ‘Cattle Kingdom’. Never afraid to put their opinion to paper, they were considered by many as unofficial community orators, chronicling as well as campaigning for the lives of their readership. So outspoken was the desert-blustering editor of the Vernon Guard, he was met with a threat of a ‘sufficient number of holes’ that would let out ‘ten thousand hurrying souls’ by the local city sheriff. Although it is unclear, sources suggest that this editor, after ‘sticking to his guns’, did actually meet an untimely end; the pen is not mightier than a gun it would seem.
The Nome Nugget (1897):
Deep in one of the remotest parts of the Northern Hemisphere, home to the treacherous pastimes of ice-fishing and bear watching, the Nome Nugget is Alaska’s oldest newspaper. Established in 1897 and still in print today, this independent weekly newspaper serves northwestern Alaska, distributing a mix of science, current events and hard-hitting journalism in Nome and the 15 surrounding communities. From local marriages, births and obituaries to arts, education and the winner of the Nome-Golovin 200 Snowmachine Race, the Nome Nugget is a staple of neighbouring Alaskan fishing towns and a testament to creating a sense of community with the printed word.
The Bullfrog Miner (1905):
Finding its feet at the end of the gold rush era, the Bullfrog Miner was one of many short-lived periodicals (published between 1905 and 1909) that provided the latest news for the mining communities springing up across the plains of America. According to folklore, the initial rush to the Bullfrog mining district caused a heated controversy between two editors, C.W. Nicklin and Frank P. Mannix, who each claimed rights to the eponymous and irrefutably catchy namesake. After heated exchanges round which paper was number two (referring to each others’ publications as Bullfrog Miner No.1 and Bullfrog Miner No. 2 in various editorials), the dispute was eventually settled when Nicklin renamed his paper the ‘Beatty Bullfrog Miner’ (far catchier).
The Wiper Times (1916):
Beneath the bludgeoned Belgian city of Ypres, accompanied by nothing more than a printing press, a dusty gramophone and a piano (played full blast to mask the sound of German shells), two British soldiers, Captain Fred Roberts and Lieutenant Jack Pearson, published the first 12-page edition of what became the ‘unofficial’ newspaper of the Western Front. The Wiper Times (a phonetic pronunciation of Ypres by British soldiers) contained an even mix of contemptuous tales from life in the trenches and bawdy British satire that lampooned the senior allied officials. Needless to say, it was a welcome reprieve from the horrifying realities of World War I, with the first 100 copies selling out almost instantly and 22 following editions of the paper being distributed before the war came to a close.
The Antarctic Sun (1997 – date of first print):
Serving scientists, explorers, yetis and arctic-landscape gardeners alike, The Antarctic Sun reports on all manner of current events in this remote part of the world. Funded by the National Science Foundation (as part of the US Antarctic Programme), you can expect to find information on safety and procedure for budding young physicists on the search for neutrinos, light-hearted comic strips, introspective pieces on the ‘utilitarian’ beauty of research station architecture and the ‘Cold Hard Facts’ of life in a sub-zero climate. Going strong for 20 years now, the current editor Mike Lucibella publishes the paper once a week each austral summer, between mid-October and early-February (with the occasional midwinter special) and even produces a podcast providing perspectives on science and life in the programme.