The White Pine Cone Newsletter
One of our former subscribers who was also an area publisher passed away in August, 2010. Gerald Lee Hitt was a 22-year U.S. Air Force veteran and resident of Albuquerque who also owned at cabin in White Pine. He his wife Lois produced a monthly publication, the White Pine Cone Newsletter for over fifteen years, named after the original White Pine Cone newspaper.
Hitt and his wife discovered the ex-mining town while he was working as the chief investigator for nuclear accidents for the U.S.A.F..
They purchased an old cabin that had been built in 1895 and began the painstaking work of rebuilding and restoring it as a summer retreat. At the time, other military retirees were also buying property and cabins in the old mining district. He then began researching the town’s history as well as that of the Upper Tomichi mining district. In January 1995 Hitt decided to begin compiling his research in the form of a newsletter for area residents and others who had an interest in the old mining district.
He and Lois (who did all the typing) gathered information from area sources such as the Gunnison Country Times, the Salida Mountain Mail as well as newspapers from as far away as Newark, New Jersey.
“My intent is to bring the upper Tomichi people together with White Pine and Sargents,” he said in a 1995 interview with Kym O’Connell-Todd of the now-defunct Gunnison Valley Telegraph.
Among his assignments during his tenure with the Air Force, Hitt worked as a member of the Air Force Special Weapons Development Directorate in the Support Equipment Division. Many of his assignments were carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
The newsletter listed phone numbers and addresses of homeowners in White Pine and the surrounding communities, posted upcoming events, and focused on the history of the area as well as the Gunnison Valley. Among its contributors were area historians Ralph Stitzer and Ann Steinbeck. At its peak the Hitts mailed out about 140 copies of the White Pine Cone Newsletter. The final issue, number 188, was released in August 2010 and announced the death of Gerald Hitt on August 12 at the age of 78, a victim of malignant melanoma. A celebration of his life was held in Peoria, Illinois on Good Friday, 2011 and a memorial service will be held in White Pine sometime around this fourth of July.
– by Mike Rosso
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