HISTORY: Eagle, oldest weekly newspaper in Oregon, turns 150

CANYON CITY 1902 - Washington Street in Canyon City in 1902 was the scene of much activity. Boardwalks saved the residents from sloshing in knee-deep mud during rainy weather. The office and shop of the Blue Mountain Eagle is shown on the corner of the left side of the street. On the extreme right is the historic St. Thomas Episcopal Church. The Eagle office and the business section of Canyon City were destroyed by fire in 1937.

The Blue Mountain Eagle at 150 years is the oldest weekly newspaper in Oregon, although it operated under different names until 1898.

According to George S. Turnbull’s “History of Oregon Newspapers,” the Eagle “traces its ancestry clear back to the beginnings of the little old City Journal of early statehood days.” A journalism professor at the University of Oregon, Turnbull published his history in 1939.

The City Journal was the first newspaper published in Grant County, with its first edition issued in October 1868. The printing equipment was brought in by pack train from The Dalles.

“Local news being of such a nature that everybody, or any other man, knows every other person’s business, except their own, we shall publish only such as suits our purpose,” publisher R.H.J. Comer announced June 28, 1869.

The newspaper’s name changed in the 1870s to the Canyon City Express, Grant County Express, Grant County Times and finally the Grant County News, which published on Saturdays.

Ownership also changed in the final decades of the 19th century before P.F. Chandler and Robert Glen acquired the paper in 1898. Law school graduate Clinton P. Haight bought an interest in the paper in 1908, establishing the firm of Chandler & Haight.

A separate branch in Grant County newspaper history brought the Eagle name to the present-day newspaper. The Long Creek Eagle was founded by C.E. Dustin and Peter Connolly in November 1886 when the official population of Long Creek was 150.

After two ownership changes, the newspaper’s name was changed to the Blue Mountain Eagle in 1898. The newspaper moved from Long Creek to Canyon City in 1900, and Chandler & Haight acquired the newspaper in 1908. The Grant County News and the Blue Mountain Eagle were then consolidated under the Blue Mountain Eagle name.

Shortly after the Blue Mountain Eagle left Long Creek in 1900, Charles A. Coe started another newspaper called the Long Creek Ranger. The newspaper was acquired by W.E. Weir and J.H. Allen in 1908. Publication of the Long Creek Ranger was suspended in 1930.

Two other newspaper businesses existed in Grant County during this time, according to Turnbull’s history. Keeler H. Gabbert began publishing the Avalanche-Journal in 1896, but it faded away after three years. The Prairie City Miner began publishing in 1912 under W.W. Watson. It later changed its name to the Grant County Journal.

A fire in Canyon City in 1937 destroyed the Chandler & Haight printing establishment, which moved to John Day. In 1944, the John Day Valley Ranger and the Blue Mountain Eagle merged. Four years later, the newspaper was purchased by Dorothy and Elmo Smith from Chester and Vera Ashton.

Donna and John Moreau bought the Blue Mountain Eagle in 1968. The newspaper merged into the East Oregonian Publishing Co. in 1979 and moved to a new building on South Canyon Boulevard in 1997.

The Blue Mountain Eagle went on online at bluemountaineagle.com in 2000. The parent company changed its name from East Oregonian Publishing to EO Media Group in 2013.

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