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Lowell Thomas Photograph by Pirie MacDonald, 1933. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-89799).


John Maxwell Hamilton and Carolyn Pione

Thomas, Lowell (06 April 1892–29 August 1981), broadcaster, author, and world traveler, was born Lowell Jackson Thomas in Woodington, Ohio, the son of Harriet Wagner, a teacher, and Harry Thomas, a physician. When Thomas was eight years old, his family moved to the rough gold-mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. Thomas delivered newspapers to the red-light district, smoked by the age of ten, explored the surrounding mountains, and yearned “to find out what lay beyond their farther slopes,” he recalled in his autobiography. At home he was expected to excel in traditional learning. A schoolteacher before he became a physician, Thomas’s father had one of the largest libraries in the West. In addition to encouraging his son to read, he providently drilled into the boy the importance of perfecting his speaking abilities. “Your voice is the expression of your personality,” the father insisted....