Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

The Story Behind the Name: Niwot Tribune


Kathy Trauner

Current day photo of the Tribune building.

When The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop moved into its downtown Niwot home last year, it breathed new life into one of Niwot's most iconic spaces. Owners Carissa Mina and Jerilyn Patterson brought their colorful, curated selection of books, toys and gifts to the northwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Franklin Street, and now laugh together about ways their building's history keeps making itself known.

"So many people come in here and are like, 'I used to have a business in this building,' said Patterson, "or 'There were dirt roads out here when I was growing up.'"

"I feel like this building pulled at us," added Mina. "We love that it has a history in writing. Publication."

198 Second Avenue does indeed enjoy a long relationship with the written word. In big, bold letters above the bookshop's awning is the sign "Niwot Tribune."

But what exactly was the Niwot Tribune?

"I don't really know that much," admits Patterson, looking at her partner. "It was a newspaper, right?"

Yes! It was a newspaper! And how many times have the rest of us passed that building's looming inscription without giving much thought at all to Niwot's original hometown paper?

Well, turns out we've been missing quite a treat.

The first issue of the Niwot Tribune hit the streets of young Niwot 101 years ago on August 19th, 1921. A subscription cost $1.25 per year. Editor and publisher Edward S. Hays described the paper as a "Moral Weekly" and a fitting match for the Left Hand Valley.

"We find here a hustling live business town," Hays wrote. "The merchants all carry nice clean stocks of goods, and besides, they sell goods on a small margin, which makes NiWot a desirable place for people to trade."

Back then, NiWot apparently had a catchy capital 'W,' along with some juicy local news, like these snippets from page one of the Tribune's inaugural issue:

"Walter Hogsett spent Tuesday in Broomfield," and "Mrs. Tom Hussie visited her mother, Mrs. Ericson, Sunday."

"James Kennedy hurt his hand quite seriously Monday, when he fell while getting on the mower, and thrust the spout of the oil can almost through it. Dr. Smith attended him." HIPAA laws were not yet in place.

One top story would surely break any modern-day fly fisherman's heart:

"C. W. Woodcock, N. M. Henery and Roy Dulin are loud in their praise of their recent trip to Hot Sulphr (sic) Springs, Colo.," the Tribune reported. "There were four men who caught 900 mountain trout in three days..."

That's 75 trout per fishermen per day. Read it and weep, anglers.

While not quite as prolific as trout in the 1920's, the Tribune was quite generous with both insights and advice.

For instance, "When a man is trying to sell you something don't imagine he is that polite all the time."

Or, "Chicken thieves are abroad," one tidbit reads. "Be on the safe side put a lock on the hen house door and have the double barrel shotgun handy."

There was plenty of wisdom to share with the ladies, too, like the recount of a conversation with "a nice little woman." The columnist wrote, "It was a joy to hear her because she had so many ideas that we thought were fair to the men. A woman of that kind never lacks appreciation; you never hear of such a woman seeking a divorce, or saying that she is not treated fairly."

E. S. Hays' journalistic take must have had merit, because the Tribune grew quickly in both ad sales and news coverage. Within a year or two the paper broadened to include statewide and sometimes national news. Ads became larger and more numerous.

According to the Niwot Historical Society, Hays remained publisher of the Tribune until he died in 1945. World War II veteran Doyle Hornbaker returned home and took over from there until the newspaper's last issue in 1958.

Courtesy Photo

Front page from The Niwot Tribune's first issue, dated August 19, 1921.

A Niwot native, Hornbaker lived in a small house at Fourth Avenue and Franklin Street for years after the Tribune shut its doors. He died in 1998 at the age of 91. Courier editor Biff Warren knew Hornbaker, and recalled seeing him walking daily from his home to the post office. "It's my recollection that he never owned a car and didn't drive," Warren said of the lifelong bachelor.

Fast forward a couple of decades, to the day Carissa Mina visited a psychic fair at the Left Hand Grange, directly across the street from the Tribune building.

"The minute I stepped out that front door and I saw this space, I said, "Oh! That should be a children's book store."

And so it happened that The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop opened its doors in the summer of 2021, and 198 Second Avenue renewed its long love affair with the printed word.

"I think the building likes it." Mina said with a laugh. "It's the happiest it's ever been." She added that she and Patterson look forward to a long stay under the Niwot Tribune's iconic sign, "so this building can be what it was meant to be."


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