The Private Presses of New Mexico

The Lightning Tree

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Jetta Carleton Lyon called the private publishing firm she owned and operated with her husband, Jene, “an affair of the heart.” She said the work was hard and the pay was low, but the satisfaction of keeping the book alive was reward enough.

The Lyons set up their shop southeast of Santa Fe in the foothills of the Cerros Negros in 1973. They named their press for a giant ponderosa there, a landmark scarred by lightning. Jene, who had worked as a production manager for New York publishing firms, was a genius with printing equipment and served The Lightning Tree as pressman, Linotype operator and hand compositor, in addition to his duties as designer and bookkeeper.

Having enjoyed some success as a novelist, Jetta used her literary skills to read manuscripts, proofread galleys and do some rewriting. Until 1991 The Lightning Tree produced an eclectic list of titles, including books of poetry, regional history, bibliographies and cookbooks, all designed and set in type by Jene.

Angelica and Other Cats In Celebration of the Book

Announcement The Lightning Tree press mark
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Stagecoach Press The Lightning Tree
Thistle Press The Bobcat Press
Rini Templeton Vinegar Tom Press

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