Newspapers of Old
The establishment of a newspaper in each booming gold camp usually followed close on the heels of the mapping of a townsite, the appointment of a district recorder and U.S. marshal, and the application for a post office. It wasn't long before a man arrived with a case of type, a pot of ink and a battered hand press. More than 50 newspapers were founded during the first ten years of the Gold Rush in the Yukon River Valley. Many lasted only a few issues. In Iditarod in 1910, for example, three newspapers began publication that summer. Only one survived beyond the first year. Judging from the numbers, starting a newspaper would seem to be an easy task, but in order to print, it was necessary to have paper, ink, adequate type and a heavy press. Transportation by dog team or flimsy boats made this a formidable undertaking. The miners were hungry for news. News from outside was the most coveted; a single newspaper from San Francisco, Portland or Seattle passed through many hands and public readings brought large crowds. Even local news was popular, Judge Wickersham helped finance his 1903 climb of Mt.McKinley by publishing one issue of a newspaper in Fairbanks. He produced only seven copies on a typewriter using any decent piece of paper he could find. These sold for $5 each. He also sold 36 ads at $5 each, and arranged to have the papers read to audiences who willingly paid $1 admission to hear news about gold discoveries they were already aware of. J.F.A. Strong, founder of the "Juneau Empire" and the "Nome Nugget," also published papers in Skagway, Dawson City, Katalla, and Iditarod. He angered poiliticians wherever he went, and eventually became one himself, serving as Governor of Alaska from 1913 to 1918.
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