Headquartered in Laramie, our paper is distributed throughout southeast Wyoming, and into northern Colorado, with the majority of our circulation within Albany County. Each year we invest a great deal of time and money in keeping our facility on the front lines of technology, to produce the area’s best up to date source of news and information. The Laramie Boomerang is striving more than ever to better our community, staying involved in community events and activities and donating money and in-kind support to various community organizations.
Our newspaper is part of the Wyoming Newspaper Group, an affiliation of newspapers with joint ownerships and interests, along with the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, the Rawlins Daily Times, the Rock Springs Daily Rocket-Miner and the Northern Wyoming Daily News in Worland. We are also an active supporter and participant in the Wyoming Press Association, a statewide trade organization representing all of the states daily and weekly newspapers, and a member of the National Newspaper Association. This association serves as a resource for training and information affecting our industry, as well as tracking legislative issues affecting newspapers.
When the first issue of the Daily Boomerang came off of Bill Nye’s “lemon squeezer” press, March 11, 1881, it is unlikely that either he or his friends and backers in the Republican Party anticipated that over 100 years later their addition to the Fourth Estate would continue to flourish, and even become the “alma mater” of many noted journalists.
Those 10 decades brought many significant changes in the West — including statehood for the Wyoming Territory — and Bill Nye’s Boomerang chronicled the events for Laramie readers, evolving into a daily newspaper that today brings events at home and around the globe to subscribers’ doorsteps every morning by 7 o’clock. The Boomerang’s founding g and early years are detailed in “Bill Nye: His Own Life Story,” which is comprised of Nye’s descriptions of his life experiences with continuity supplied by his son, Frank Wilson Nye:
“ … Bill Nye founded the Boomerang in Laramie City in 1881. He edited the newspaper for a company and published it in the loft over a livery stable. ‘That’s why they called it a stock company,’ he said. “A sign at the foot of the stairs leading to the loft directed visitors to the newspaper by saying, ‘Twist the gray mule’s tail and take the elevator.’ “Nye named the paper the Boomerang; a name also held by his mule, because, Nye said, ‘I never know where he is going to strike.’
Bill Nye and Clara Frances Smith were married March 7, 1887, in Laramie. Mrs. Nye remembered the entrance of another unexpected member of the family. “This funny little creature appeared on the streets of Laramie from no one knows where,” she wrote in later years. “It ambled up to Edgar and, rubbing its nose against his sleeve, brayed earnestly in his ear. From that time on, the arrival was known as Bill Nye’s mule, Boomerang.” Initial efforts to drive the creature off were unsuccessful, thus resulting in the name. The animal was a companion whenever Bill went fishing or to work his claim west of town. Nye wrote about their close relationship in one of his books. When local Republicans decided they needed a new political organ in Laramie, they backed the establishment of a newspaper and hired Nye to head the outfit. Nye accepted, named the sheet after his beloved mule and moved the shop into the upstairs room of a livery stable at Third and Garfield. He was given $3,000 by his backers to set up the paper and spent $1,800 of it on a “lemon squeezer” hand press and materials, and the rest for operating costs.
The late Ernest H. Linford (a former Boomerang editor, editorial writer for the Salt Lake Tribune and University of Wyoming professor of journalism) compiled much of the history of the Boomerang for its Centennial anniversary publication in 1981. The following overview is taken from his writings: “The Laramie Boomerang boasts several editor-owners who were prominent in journalism — notably Bill Nye, founder of the Boomerang. “The old Laramie Republican, which shared the masthead and flag of (the Boomerang) for more than 30 years, had prominent ‘alumni’ too, but they were fewer in number because of the long continuity of publication under the same staff. “Bill Nye’s essays and lectures, some of them written for the Boomerang, have appeared in scores of anthologies. But few of the editorials of William E. Chaplin, who established the Laramie Republican in 1890, nearly 10 years after the Boomerang was born, are found outside the bound volumes of the paper he founded. Yet Mr. Chaplin ran a far more prosperous paper with considerable influence in the community and state.
“The Boomerang began as a Republican organ — most newspapers drew their lifeblood from the major political parties in those days — and Mr. Chaplin, a native of Omaha, worked for Bill Nye for a time as back shop foreman. Chaplin and political associates established the Republican in 1890, partly because of dissatisfaction with the political consistency of the Boomerang. … Mr. Chaplin was a strong Republican political force in Wyoming during his lifetime in the state. He was secretary of state for a single term (1920-24) and prior to that was register of the U.S. land office at Cheyenne nearly 18 years (1888-1915) … Mr. Chaplin did not exactly keep his nose in the type font during his editorial and printing career, … (and) much credit for the Republican’s success must go to his two partners, Frank Spafford and James Mathison, both printers in the main.
“ … One of the many owners of editors of the Laramie Boomerang during the early part of its existence was James L. Kilgallen. … He attained prominence as a reported for the Hearst Headline Service after advancing through several positions with that organization. … “The Kilgallens came to Laramie from Denver in 1913 and stayed only two years or so. (Their daughter, Dorothy Kilgallen, achieved prominence as a writer for the New York Journal-American and for her participation in the ‘What’s My Line?’ television show prior to her death in 1965.)
“Joining with a former classmate at the University of Wyoming, C. Stanley Greenbaum, during July 1938, the pair bought into the Laramie Daily Bulletin, a shopping paper published successfully for several years previously by John a. Dalton and Lou Falk, taking into the firm Ernest H. Linford, then a Wyoming Eagle employee. … “Backing up to 1920, Frank Sumner Burrage, former secretary and registrar at the University of Wyoming, along with several associates, bought the Laramie Republican from Chaplin, Spafford and Mathison. Three years later, they purchased the Boomerang and combined the two papers.
“In late August 1938, Laramie Newspaper, Inc., with Tracy S. McCraken as president and Greenbaum as publisher-manager of both papers, purchased the Republican-Boomerang and both it and the Bulletin were published in the same plant on Fourth Street. Linford became editor of the Republican-Boomerang until 1948. … “In 1945, after a tour of duty as a U.S. Naval officer in the Pacific Theatre, R.R. “Russ” Allbaugh joined the company as a stockholder and general manager. Jim Hull later became advertising manager and Allbaugh became publisher following Greenbaum’s retirement.”
The newspaper’s offices on South Fourth were expanded and remodeled in 1979. A large mural by Wyoming artist Mike Kopriva dominates one wall in advertising, showing the history of Wyoming from the time of the first settlers to the present, and depicting many of the events which the Laramie Boomerang has witnessed for its readers over the years.
Boomerang addition provides lots of room for expansion The 10,000 square foot addition to the north side of the old Boomerang building includes a much enlarged news room, and bigger advertising, business-classified, circulation and publisher’s office spaces as well as a break room and large storage room.
According to (Boomerang publisher Ron) Van Ekeren, the newspaper’s board of directors has been thinking about either moving the newspaper or expanding the building for several years. The last major construction project before this was in 1979 when the newspaper building at 314 S. 4th was remodeled. Van Ekeren noted that in 1984 the Boomerang acquired an old telephone building just to the north of the newspaper office. In 1993, Van Ekeren asked the board of directors of Laramie Newspapers Inc. to set aside money for an engineering study of the old telephone building. Van Ekeren wanted to study to see if the telephone company building could be used for expansion of the press room or for an office. He said the report came back that it was unsuitable for either use. One of the reasons it wouldn’t work was the high cost of abating the asbestos problem in the building, Van Ekeren said. Later, the newspaper bought the old Plainsman Service Station property on the corner of 4th and Grand. That gave the newspaper enough room to expand to the north. The newspaper board approved the initial plan in 1995 to demolish the old telephone company building and the old service station building and to build an addition to the north.