RANGE magazine has been called “the shill of industrial polluters” and “cousin-marrying, Shepler-shopping troglodytes.” Those bits of “criticism” are favorites of publisher, C.J. Hadley.
In the current issue, RANGE’s 100th, she informed readers that while “Browbeaten. Badgered. Belittled. Bullied. And Bloodied. The magazine is still standing after 100 issues,” all the while avoiding technology and the lure of “doing it the easier way” by relying on the Internet. RANGE readers often read an issue more than once, save copies in their libraries, use it for reference, and savor the images by some of America’s most talented photographers.
No stranger to controversy, RANGE has withstood the barrage for 26 years and 100 issues, owing survival to others who say it “takes wide swings at big, fascinating, important subjects with thorough investigation.” It is also “the voice of reason amidst a cacophony of madmen,” and “speaks the truth with intellect, integrity, tenacity and heart.”
In her editorial in the centennial issue, Hadley looked back with self-deprecating humor, and with fondness and appreciation for the hard-working people who live and work on the land. Here’s what she said:
“Up Front: A hell of a ride.”
This is my 100th issue. Yep. My mind, body and soul can feel it. I am indelibly marked one hundred times because RANGE has offered an extraordinary education—and revelations—in each and every one.
This is also my 26th year and I’ve had my horse longer than I’ve been running RANGE. Gib, 30 now, came to Washoe Valley, Nev., in 1989 as an almost three-year-old. It was also the year five cowboys asked me to produce a brochure to send to Congress to help prove that cowboys and sheepherders are not the bad guys.
I told those cowboys, “Why, sure,” not realizing the kind of intense labor demanded and what an extremely long and money-lacking project it was going to be. I was a meat-eating liberal from New York City who knew little about the subject. I had been wandering the world as an international travel writer and on walkabout in Nevada for a decade as publisher and editor of Nevada Magazine. How tough could it be?
I met Basque sheepherders and a few miners and cowboys in the high desert. (I have yet to find a logger.) I visited towns the size of a Big Apple tea klatch, which means pretty small. I watched Melvin Dummar—a fish salesmen from Gabbs who claimed a big slice of Howard Hughes’ estate—as he squirmed an Elvis impersonation at a casino in downtown Reno. I borrowed a slick black Ferrari Dino from Bill Harrah to test on the roads around Verdi (maybe because I used to be managing editor of Car & Driver). I drove thousands of miles on dirt roads in a 1972 Dodge Polara state car, which had a 440 Hemi engine with enough power to jump creeks on Hinckey Summit. And I have been welcomed onto ranches from the Dakotas to California, often leaving with tears in my eyes.
RANGE offered a drastic change in perspective and one hell of a learning curve. Yep, in an early issue I spelled the word for a female sheep “yew,” just like the tree. Yep, I allowed my art director to illustrate an Angus bull with horns. And, yep, I cussed too much. (Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said, “Profanity offers relief denied by prayer”?) But I also had a growing understanding and affection for hardworking, independent rural families and more doubt regarding America’s leaders.
RANGE started out nice and easy. A few ranch stories. Nice photos. A mustang feature I had been investigating since the mid-70s. I found some brilliant writers, researchers and photographers willing to work for RANGE’s pittance. A few of those talents were ready to come out of the socialist closet, including Tim Findley who died in 2010 but left an astounding body of work that is available at www.rangemagazine.com along with other masterpieces by Dr. Mike Coffman, Dave Skinner and hundreds more.
Because of our contributors, RANGE has been called “a national treasure” and “a triumph.” Some say, “I read it cover to cover.” Our subscribers live in every state of the Union and 23 foreign countries and our successes are because of our readers. For this I am inspired but also humbled.
Gib hasn’t been ridden for a while and he’s ready for heavenly pastures. A bit swaybacked and rough looking now, Gib has always been a talented and gentle partner.
I, too, am a bit swaybacked and rough looking, partly because RANGE—so far—has been one hell of a ride!
Thanks for traveling with me.
C.J. Hadley, editor