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As It Was: Yreka, Calif., Gets a Newspaper in 1853

It wasn’t easy to establish a newspaper in the early days of the gold rush.

In 1853, the booming town of Yreka was separated by an arduous journey over the mountains, with no real roads, to the important city at the time of Shasta – present day Old Shasta -- some six miles west of Redding. Pack mules brought in supplies and it wasn’t cheap.

The people of Yreka needed a newspaper to know what was happening elsewhere.  Several went together to buy a $1,500 hand press and other materials.  Mules hauled the items, strapped to their backs at the rate of $50 a pound, over the mountains to Yreka.

On June 11, 1853, the first issue of the Mountain Herald was printed by Thornbury & Co. The proprietors were C.N. Thornbury, W.D. Slade, and S. F. Van Choate.  It numbered four 9-by-16-inch pages.

The publishers soon purchased a new press that printed larger pages, and it remained successful until 1855 when political opponents threatened to publish a competing paper.  That’s when Dr. Cummins of the Know Nothing Party bought the paper and changed its name to the Yreka Union.

Source: Wells, Harry L. History of Siskiyou County, California. Oakland, D. J. Stewart & Co., 1881, p. 98.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.