>Next Tuesday's edition of the Central Oregonian marks the beginning of the 120th year of publication ... approximately 7,740 issues. Oh, how time flies ....
Next Tuesday, December 4, 2001, is something of a momentous day for those of us at the Central Oregonian. The little box on the upper left hand corner of page one will click over from Volume 119, Issue 104 to Volume 120, Issue 1. That means we, and hundreds of others through the years, have had the privilege, the responsibility and the headaches of publishing at least one newspaper every week for 120 years. It was a mission for those people, as it is today, to provide the best possible news (and advertising) coverage of Crook County.
In our annual Crook County Fact Book managing editor Bill Sheehy has compiled the best brief history I've seen of how we got to Volume 120, Issue 1:
The Central Oregonian: Born in 1881 as the Prineville News, the long-lived publication has a history of being the voice of Crook County.
Survival in the newspaper industry in Prineville reads something like an old-fashion version of the "Perils of Pauline" and frequently hinged on such infinite events as earning "official newspaper of record" status with the city and the county.
Records of the transition of newspaper ownership in Crook County are skimpy...but, when you start digging into old volumes of predecessors of the Central Oregonian, it's like eating peanuts -- you can't quit.
There is an individual story with each that is more interesting than the total lineage of newspapers in the area. Prineville's history includes such interesting publications as the Ochoco Review, the Crook County Journal, the Enterprise, the Prineville Call, several different versions of the "News" and the Tribune, among others.
The lineage of the Central Oregonian goes back over 100 years of continuous publication to a little newspaper started December 18, 1881, by H.A. Dillard. A few years later the name and ownership of the publication changed. It became the Ochoco Review owned by Douthit and Barnes. By 1894, the name of the publication had been changed again, this time to the Prineville Review, under the editorial management of J.N. Williamson.
Ownership of the Review went through the hands of L.N. Liggett and, in July 1902, to William Holder. In 1904, the Review was purchased by A.H. Kennedy, who published it until his death in 1913. His widow then continued operation of the newspaper as the only female publisher in Oregon.
Today's ownership began when the company was purchased by Denny Smith, who has also served as state senator and U.S. Congressman. For the next 30 years, the Central Oregonian was under the leadership of Publisher James O. Smith (no relation to the owner).
Since 1969, Smith's company, Eagle Newspapers, Inc. has grown from a small group of weekly newspapers in Oregon to a large group of community newspapers in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
Under Smith's ownership, the Central Oregonian grew to become a twice-weekly publication in 1972 and in 1975 moved to its present location on north Main Street. Former General Manager Bill Schaffer became the newspaper's publisher in 1999.
Since the beginning approximately 7,740 issues (or more than 90,000 pages) of the paper have been published.
The idiom "time flies when you are having fun" certainly applies to our job at the Central Oregonian. Two years ago when I became publisher I estimated it would take a year or two to complete all the changes I envisioned for the CO. I think we've made a lot of progress, but we've got a long way to go. Time really does fly.