The Daily Mountaineer
The Dalles, Or.
The first newspaper to appear in Eastern Oregon was The Dalles Journal [LCCN: sn85042406], published in April 1859 by Captain Thomas Jordan in The Dalles. In April of the following year, he sold the publication to William H. Newell who changed its name to The Dalles Weekly Mountaineer [LCCN: sn83025135]. Newell ran the paper for five years, the last three of which it was published as a morning daily entitled the Daily Mountaineer. In November 1865, he left The Dalles to publish the Walla Walla Statesman [LCCN: sn86072040] in Washington Territory, and the daily changed hands to Eugene Crowne and Joseph Halloran, who returned the paper to its weekly status a year later.
In 1867, ownership transferred to William Hand, who continued working as the sole proprietor until his death at age 47 in September 1881. The new owner, Colonel Thomas Stackpole Lang, sold the paper about a year later. By 1882 the Mountaineer found a more permanent owner, John Michell, who would have a hand in the enterprise for 13 years. Michell had collaborated with Robert J. Marsh on an earlier project, the Weekly Times [LCCN: sn93051668], which ran in The Dalles between 1880 and 1882. He bought Marsh’s interests in the publishing company shortly before consolidating the two papers into The Dalles Times-Mountaineer.
Under Michell, a Civil War veteran noted for being “a fearless and able writer, always possessing the courage of his conviction,” the newspaper’s Republican undertones became more pronounced. He had studied law at the University of Michigan, but he always had an interest in journalism and politics. As a result, the Times-Mountaineer quickly became one of Oregon’s leading partisan newspapers, consistently printing articles that defamed Democratic papers such as the Albany State Rights Democrat [LCCN: sn84022644]. Although a staunch Republican, Michell criticized bossism and clique rule in the party.
As a periodical that originated in the Civil War era, the Times-Mountaineer provides a snapshot of how Oregonians perceived the war and its aftermath. However, the paper covered a broad range of additional topics. One article from July 1879 offered a critical analysis of American eating habits, suggesting that “food crammed into the stomach during business hours” and overeating resulted in disease. Sensational topics are exemplified by an account of a train collision in the Blue Mountains that caused the death of a fireman in August 1889. Advertisements included the services of local attorneys and doctors, digestive aids such as Castoria, restaurants, furniture stores, and cosmetics, to name a few.
In 1895, Michell sold the newspaper as he became more engaged in local politics, and he was elected state senator in 1896. John Douthit, the final publisher of the Times-Mountaineer, had difficulty managing the weekly. He attempted to revamp the paper’s image by running “Souvenir” and “Illustrated” editions as well as a “Woman’s” edition, edited by leading women in the community. By 1904 he decided to end publication of the Times-Mountaineer due to falling profits.
Prepared with reference to:
Turnbull, George S. History of Oregon Newspapers. Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1939.
-- Written by Daniel Rinn