Silverton Newspaper Named National Historic Site in Journalism
by Watch Staff
Oct 31, 2011 | 502 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SILVERTON – The Silverton Standard & the Miner newspaper has been designated a National Historic Site in Journalism by the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Standard joins 98 other such sites designated by the Society of Professional Journalists since 1942.

Others honored include The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, The Tombstone (Ariz.) Epitaph, and the Hartford (Conn.) Courant, the oldest, continuously published newspaper in the nation.

A Baltimore site also received the designation in honor of H.L. Mencken, along with a New York City site honoring Horace Greeley, and an Oklahoma site in honor of Will Rogers.

“The site will join other institutions and locations with a historic journalistic past,” said Lauren Rochester, awards coordinator for SPJ.

The Standard & the Miner, founded in 1875, is the oldest continuously operated newspaper — and the oldest business of any kind — on the Western Slope of Colorado.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists as a nationally significant historic newspaper,” said Standard Editor and Publisher Mark Esper.

Esper noted that the only other National Historic Site in Journalism in Colorado is the Denver Press Club, which received the designation in 2007.

“This is a very historic newspaper,” said Bev Rich, chairman of the San Juan County Historical Society. “We are so proud to have kept it in business.”

The historical society acquired the newspaper in 2009. While it operates independently from the historical society, it relies partially on donations and community support in its role that Rich describes as “Silverton’s Public Newspaper.”

Former Standard owner George Chapman noted that he and his wife, Karen, bought the paper in December 1975 and sold it in July 1990, “making us one of the longer-termed owners. It is an honor to have been a part of this history.”

The paper that exists today began operations as the La Plata Miner on July 10, 1875, when John R. Curry somehow managed to haul an old 1839 Hoe press by pack train over Stony Pass and began publishing. At one point, when the town was cut off for several weeks due to snowstorms and avalanches, Curry had to publish the newspaper on blue wrapping paper, obtained from a butcher in town. In 1889, The Silverton Standard was founded; the two newspapers merged in 1922. In 1969, the Colorado chapter of what was then called the Professional Journalistic Society designated the Standard as a state historic site in journalism. A plaque commemorating that designation is on display at the San Juan County Historical Society museum.

SPJ officials said a plaque will be presented to the Standard next spring.

Stories covered by the two papers

Over the years, The Silverton Standard & the Miner has covered some important stories, including:

• The gunning-down of Town Marshal Clayton Ogsbury on Aug. 24, 1881, by the notorious Ike Stockton Gang, and the subsequent lynching of two of the accused in downtown Silverton.

• The 1902 purge of Chinese residents, a brutal ethnic-cleansing operation.

• The 1906 St. Patrick’s Day snowslides that killed some 20 miners in various camps following a severe winter storm.

• The Gold King Mine fire of June 1908 that killed six.

• The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19 that for some reason hit Silverton particularly hard, wiping out 10 percent of its population (161 died, and two mass graves were dug at Hillside Cemetery to keep up with the horrific death toll).

• The 1942 fire at the Pride of the West mine that killed eight.

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