Visit a New Online Lowell Thomas Exhibit “So long until tomorrow....” That closing statement was a familiar one for radio listeners until 1981. The golden voice of radio, Lowell Thomas, died in August of 1981, just two weeks after he had visited his boyhood town of Victor.
At the age of 8, in August of 1900, Thomas moved to Victor with his family where he got his start in journalism- as editor of the Victor Daily Record at age 19. At the age of 10, dreams of becoming a newsboy began to circulate in his head and late that summer he joined the newsboy’s union - one of 35 members. Hired on to work at the Victor Daily Record by owner George Kyner, Thomas folded and delivered the morning paper to the business and red light districts of Victor and Goldfield. In addition, Thomas took up delivering the Denver Post to saloons and gambling houses, and made it to school in time each morning. Later, in 1911, Kyner hired him as the editor of the Victor Daily Record for $95 per month. Like many small town newspapers of the day, being editor meant being the one-and-only-man show at the paper. He covered prize fights, brawls, shootings and operas.
With promise of more pay, Thomas switched jobs in 1912 and took over editorship of the Victor News and, after leaving for law school, was hired as a reporter for The Chicago Evening Journal.
In the mining district, he lived through the labor strikes, the tensions mounting over unions and non-union miners; and through the boom times in Victor when mines were producing millions of dollars of gold a year. He climbed Pikes Peak before age 14 and in 1916, he left Victor to attend college in Indiana (in two years he had a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degree.) At age 24 he was a student and professor at Princeton, by then already well traveled In March of 1925 he spoke for the first time on radio and Thomas, in 1940, became the first television news broadcaster. He set many firsts, broadcasting first from underground in a mine, from places far and wide to which he ventured.
The challenges of the early day mining district fueled Thomas’s hunger for adventure and in 1949 he and his son were among the first Americans admitted to Tibet, the “forbidden land.” Three books later he was off and running to other parts of the world.
He spent 46 years on radio doing NBC’s Literary Digest and from 1951 to 1955 he made the first three Cinerama (three-dimensional) movies. From 1957 to 1959 Thomas was on the television set acting out his series High Adventure produced by his son, Lowell, Jr .
In 1976 President Gerald Ford presented Thomas with the Medal of Freedom and on April 30,1976 Thomas told the world, from Victor, that he would retire from broadcasting on May 14 of that year.
He paid a visit to Victor and posed with his with his son, Lowell Thomas Jr, and Ralph Carr, one-time Colorado governor, in front of the vacant Record building.
His last visit to his boyhood home of Victor on August 1320, 1981. Less than two weeks later he died, August 29, at his estate in New York. He was 89 years old when he died. Thomas left a legacy for all journalists.
His first work place as a journalist, The Victor Record building, still stands on south Fourth St. The Lowell Thomas Museum houses memorabilia from his illustrious career. The Museum also houses artifacts from Victor’s past.
His son, Lowell Thomas Jr., passed away on Oct. 1, 2016. Read more about him here.