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News Coverage from the Idaho Press
Edgar Rice Burroughs fans descend on Pocatello
By John O’Connell
Idaho State Journal ~ August 11, 2011
    POCATELLO — As a child, John Tyner II received a gift that spurred a lifelong fascination with science fiction pioneer Edgar Rice Burroughs. His mother gave him a first-edition copy of "Tarzan of the Apes," which she'd received from her godmother in 1919.

    At auction, first editions of that book have fetched upwards of $35,000, but Tyner, of Washington, D.C., would never dream of selling it — not even if someone offered him $1 million.

    This week, Tyner and 32 other like-minded individuals from throughout the U.S. and Canada are celebrating their favorite author — any member of the group can rattle off Burroughs’ contributions to literature ad-infinitum — in his old stomping grounds of Southeast Idaho.

    The National Capital Panthans, a mid-Atlantic chapter of the Burroughs Bibliophiles, chose Pocatello to host their convention, the 2011 Annual Dum-Dum. For those unfamiliar with Burroughs terminology, Dum-Dum refers to the ceremonial earthen drums the apes played in the famous Tarzan novels, and Panthan was a mercenary character in his Martian novels.

    The convention, hosted at the Clarion Inn, started Saturday and ends today. It included a bus tour of places in the region with ties to Burroughs, a banquet, speakers, an auction of Burroughs memorabilia and Burroughs collections for sale. The assortment of Burroughs buys included original scripts, comics, vintage pulp magazines from the 1920s, videos, novels, buttons and a host of other collectibles.

    Tyner, who organized the event along with Panthan chapter member Joan Bledig, offered a brief history of the roughly three years Burroughs spent in Southeast Idaho to explain the choice of setting for the event.

    Before he was an author, Burroughs bought a stationery store on Center Street in Pocatello in 1898. That building, located adjacent to the Whitman Hotel, has since been torn down. Burroughs dredged for gold with his brothers in the Snake River, and he punched cattle at a family ranch in the Raft River area. He picked up his mail in American Falls. The title of his first book, which was never published [in his lifetime], should also sound familiar to residents of Southeast Idaho — “Minidoka.”

    Tyner explained his group made a brief stop in Minidoka and met the small town’s mayor, who asked them if their bus had made a wrong turn.

    Burroughs also made failed attempts at being a battery salesman and a Sears accountant before he finally started in science fiction, where he innovated concepts such as teleportation, time travel and rockets.

    Simply put, Burroughs is the grandfather of science fiction, argued J.G. Huckenpohler, of Washington, D.C. Huckenpohler noted Burroughs wrote about organ transplants before they’d ever been performed, aircraft with autopilot before there were airplanes and tissue cultures before they were commonplace in laboratories.

    “I don’t think there’s ever been anybody who could describe action as well as him,” added Nels Myrhoj, of Aldergrove, British Columbia

    To Tyner, however, the true value of Burroughs' works — his Tarzan stories in particular — lies in the moral lessons.

    “When you look at the Tarzan written adventures, it's absolutely crystal clear the difference of being good and bad. ... It really sets for people what they should be doing with their lives,” Tyner said.

    Bill Hillman, a retired university professor from Brandon, Manitoba, claims to operate the world’s most extensive website managed by one source for a single author. Any Dum-Dum could guess the common thread of the nearly 10,000 web pages linked to

    Hillman recalls listening to the old Tarzan radio shows in the early 1950s and reading the comic books. He and any other club member are quick to proclaim that the movies — even the old ones with Johnny Weissmuller — are nothing like the books.

    For a while, Hillman recalled having a "real life" with Tarzan on the back burner.

    "Then the Internet came out, and I met all of these other weirdos," Hillman joked.

Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal
Myron Molnay, right, looks through some of the books and pulp magazines 
that were published with Edgar Rice Burroughs stories on Tarzan and some of his other books. 
Nels Myrhoj has been collecting the works of E.R. Burroughs for many years and 
buying, trading or selling at events such as the Dum-Dum fest.
© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Edgar Rice Burrows and Minidoka City
MiniCassia News ~ September 1, 2011 ~ By Lisa Dayley

MINIDOKA CITY – Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs descended on the city recently in their quest to learn more about the man behind the famous Tarzan series.

A group of Burroughs devotees visited the city earlier this month during a celebration of the author’s  work. They stopped in the city where the group believes Burroughs may have spent a significant amount of time. At the first of the 20th century, as a young adult, Burroughs worked with his brothers in a dredging company along the Snake River. Minidoka City was the hub of the community and thriving railroad town for years.

“We didn’t know they were coming. They bought all of the post office’s postcards. They had them stamped with our postmark and had me sign them all. They took pictures of me with them,” said Mayor Becky Ziebach.

The group of about 30 told Ziebach that they were visiting all the communities where Burroughs had lived.

“It was kind of a shock, but it was fun to have them. We really enjoyed it,” she said.

Ziebach hopes that the Burroughs’ fan club visit will help her continue to put the city on tourists’ maps. The city also recently held Minidoka Days where it hosted a classic car show. There cars from 1918 through the 21st century were on display. Visitors from throughout Mini-Cassia attended. They also hosted a greased pole climbing contest for youth.

“We put a $50 on top, but no one ever did get it. Finally we lifted the kid up who had been working on it all day and let him have it,” she said.

Ziebach plans to host the event next year and says that the car collectors will again have their vehicles on display.

“It was kind of an experiment to see if it would work out. We had a really good turn out and had more than I ever thought would attend,” she said.


Tarzan creator once lived here
Idaho State Journal ~ July 26, 2011
By Albert W. Strickland

The Phantom of Pocatello, Edgar Rice Burroughs, lived here, worked here, visited the raucous saloons on Saturday night, smoked cigars with the railroad boys, and told tales of far-off adventures on Mars and the deep dark jungles of Africa.

He was a cowboy and a storekeeper, but he was, foremost, a writer. He was an enigma, mysterious, sometimes shy; he was a secretive person sharing with only a few people his visions of other worlds that years later he would put to pen.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) lived and worked in Pocatello from June 1898 to January 1899. During this time, he owned and operated a newspaper and stationary (i.e., dry goods) store at 233 West Center.

How did a young man (born Sept. 1, 1875) from Chicago come to live in Pocatello? What was he like during his Idaho years? What did he write while in Idaho?

Edgar's father, Maj. George T. Burroughs, a veteran of the Civil War, had a significant influence on his life. The major's wife (Mary Burroughs) conveyed her husband's sternness as well as his war-story adventures in "Memoirs of a War Bride." (1914).

She retold these tales to "Eddie" (the family's nickname for Edgar) most of his life.

Young Eddie attended Brown School until the sixth grade. His classmates included showman Florenz Ziegfeld and entertainer Lillian Russell. Edgar was reported to be a fair student with poor attendance habits. A few years later, he was pulled out of the Chicago public school due to a terrible diphtheria epidemic and sent to Mrs. K.S. Cooley's Maplehurst School for Girls (a private school). However, the epidemic became so widespread that Edgar, at age 15, was sent to Idaho to live with his older brothers, George and Harry.

Harry, George and Yale classmate Lew Sweetser purchased a section of land from Idaho "Cattle King" Jim Pierce. The Bar Y was along the lower Raft River in Cassia County, Idaho, about 30 miles from American Falls. Both Harry and George were at the Pocatello depot when Edgar's train arrived on the Oregon Short Line Railroad. Harry and George had brought the wagon into town to buy supplies for the long summer roundup. Edgar was thrilled to be with his brothers and even more excited about becoming a cowboy.

Upon arriving at the Bar Y, hands decided to test the young "tenderfoot" by prodding Edgar to ride an unbroken horse they called Killer. To everyone's dismay Edgar displayed amazing equestrian skill riding "bareback." The cowboys were impressed by Edgar's agility and skill, and quickly embraced him into their clan.

In his autobiography (unpublished; started in 1925 and completed in 1929), Edgar reflected on his first weeks at the Bar Y Ranch:

I did chores, grubbed sagebrush and drove a team of bronchos [sic] to a sulky plow. I recall that once, after I unhooked them, they ran away and evidently, not being endowed with any too much intelligence, I hung onto the lines after tripping over sage brush and dragged around the country three times on my face…(p .63).

After about three weeks, Edgar and Harry went to Pocatello to buy supplies and a cowboy "outfit" for Edgar before they began the roundup: Pants, batwing chaps, several shirts, a Stetson and a pair of boots. Edgar recorded the following about this purchase:

I bought a .45 caliber Colt Single Action Army revolver and a pair of Mexican spurs inlaid with silver. My spurs had enormous rowels with silver dumb bells. As I walked across a floor, the rowels dragged behind me, the dumb bells made a clatter as (I) walked across wooden floors (p. 77).

Before returning to the Bar Y, the brothers went to a saloon on the west side of Pocatello. It was filled with men who were either bad or those who wanted to be bad. Edgar went to pay for his and Harry's drink and won distinction, which also caused the entire crowd to laugh: He paid for the drinks in pennies. Most of the crowd had never seen a penny - drinks were "two-bits" (a quarter). Cigars were "two-bits." In fact, most items were priced at "two-bits," "four-bits," "six-bits" or a silver dollar.

Later, Edgar remarked in a letter to his mother that he was pleased there were few bathtubs in Idaho since he had gone three weeks on the roundup without a bath or even taking off his boots or Stetson. He enclosed a piece from the Pocatello Tribune showing a picture of the town, but on the other side of the paper, there was a reported shootout at one of Pocatello's saloons that resulted in one man killed.

It didn't take long for Edgar's parents to demand their son return home. Edgar's mother, Mary Zieger Burroughs, was horrified when her son stepped off the train hiding his face with a big Stetson hat, wearing a black leather vest, Levis, a brightly colored shirt, cowboy boots with spurs, and a .45-caliber Colt Single Action Army revolver riding low on his hip.

Several days later, George T. Burroughs enrolled his son in Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. Afterward, he enrolled in the Michigan Military Academy at Orchard Lake, 26 miles northwest of Detroit. During the summer of 1893, Edgar worked at his father's American Battery Co. exhibit in the Electricity Building at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

As a reward, Edgar's father let him drive one of the first horseless surreys (early automobiles) in Chicago. At 5 feet 10 inches and 165 pounds, Edgar was a standout in football. In the final game of the season, his team held the University of Michigan to a tie.

Mysteriously, before graduation Edgar left Chicago to join the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry and was stationed at Fort Grant in the Arizona Territory. Edgar had enlisted as a private, choosing not to reveal his family background. He was assigned to Troop B, whose mission was to hunt the Apache Kid and his band of marauders.

Through correspondence with Edgar's brothers, his father learned of his enlistment.

When his father contacted Edgar, he admitted he had made a mistake and asked his father to help him gain a discharge. This was formally achieved on March 23, 1897.

In April 1898, Edgar decided to rejoin his bothers at the Bar-Y ranch for the spring roundup. Harry and George lived on a houseboat docked on the Raft River. After the roundup, which was producing slow results due to a late winter, Edgar went to Pocatello, where he met Mr. V.C. Roeder, city engineer, who wanted to go to war and offered to sell his store to Edgar.

On June 25, 1898, the Pocatello Tribune reported:

Mr. V.C. Roeder has sold his book and stationery store to Mr. E.R. Burroughs who is now in charge. Mr. Roeder has not yet decided upon what he will do, but if he does not go to war with the volunteer engineers now being recruited by Mr. F.F.J. Mills at Salt Lake, will probably locate some place in California. Mr. Roeder's departure from Pocatello is a matter of genuine regret to all. He is one of the old timers in Pocatello and will be missed by everybody. Mr. Roeder's successor, Mr. Burroughs, is a recent arrival in Pocatello but a young gentleman of due x [sic] abilities, and we have no doubt "Roeder's," as it has always been known, will continue as popular as ever under his management.

Edgar advertised that he could supply Pocatello readers with any periodical from America, or elsewhere.

He sold several varieties of cigars, including Cuban cigars. He delivered out-of-town newspapers to his local patrons on his black horse, named "Crow." His store was probably one of the few places in town where photographs could be developed.

Edgar took many photographs, which he offered for sale in the local newspaper. He frequented most of the 23 saloons in Pocatello, but his favorite was the Q P Saloon located at 301 West Center where Porterhouse steaks were 35 cents and two fried eggs 20 cents.

In October, Edgar had a supply of photo bills printed for the store. His first major work, "Minidoka," was later written on the backs of some of these bills, but it was promptly stored away and wouldn't see publication for more than five decades. At the same time, he wrote rough notes regarding a young cavalry officer in Arizona who is mysteriously transported to the planet Mars … the beginning of his 14-volume series "John Carter of Mars." Volume one, "A Princess of Mars" (1917), and the remaining volumes have a strong parallel to the Star Wars trilogies. He also wrote "Tarzan" (7 novels), "The People that Time Forgot," "At the Earth's Core," "The Land That Time Forgot" and "The Lost Continent."

In late 1899, Edgar Rice Burroughs contributed a poem to the Pocatello Tribune, "The Black Man's Burden," a parody of Kipling's "The White Man's Burden," which had been published in February 1899.

In late January 1900, Edgar sold the store back to Victor Roeder and later wrote "God never intended me to be a retail merchant." Thus, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Phantom of Pocatello, spent seven months in Pocatello; then left Idaho and is seldom remembered for his days here-a true phantom.

More on the Dum-Dum coverage and interviews tonight.



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