The Dalles Daily Chronicle
The Dalles, Wasco County, Oregon
1890 – 1948
Founded in north-central Oregon along the Columbia River, The Dalles was historically known to mark the end of the Oregon Trail, and its geographical location made it a prime center for trade, commerce, and shipping.
In response to a partisan battle for control of municipal water rights, and in direct opposition to the stance of competing newspaper The Dalles Times-Mountaineer[LCCN: unknown], The Dalles Daily Chronicle [LCCN: sn85042448] was founded by a group of stockholders and incorporators on December 10, 1890 as an evening daily, although the Chronicle was released in the morning for a few weeks in 1908. John H. Cradlebaugh was the first editor, followed by Hugh Gourlay in 1891 when Cradlebaugh became editor of the Hood River Glacier [LCCN: sn97071110]. DeWitt Clinton Ireland, formerly of Portland, Oregon City, and Astoria, was editor for a time, and went on to edit the Wasco County Sun [LCCN: sn93051664] from 1893 to 1894. Editors at the turn of the century included Samuel L. Brooks, Frederick Wallace Wilson, Richard J. Gorman, Miss Rose Mitchell, and John Mitchell, with Cradlebaugh and Rose Mitchell serving more than once.
Early issues featured international news and events under major headlines on the front page, followed by interesting or alarming tidbits of national, statewide, and local news, as well as “How To” columns and advice. The Chronicle reported briefly on the practices of other cultures, such as comments on the “curious Indian custom” of the potlatch, “a thing so foreign to us…that we have no word or phrase to give its meaning,” and the curiosity of Japanese doctors who charge no fee for their services. Conflicting opinions on diversity abound in early issues, with use of the term “red men” followed by support for Native American citizenship and voting rights on the Umatilla reservation, disapproval of Chinese immigration to the United States through Canada, surprise at “A Negro Servant’s Wit,” and expressed wishes for Japanese immigrants to be excluded from the United States.
The Chronicle offered a pointedly Republican stance on political issues, regularly responding to political opinions and claims expressed by other regional newspapers and asserting that “There is no reason why every man on the Republican ticket of Wasco County, from congressman to constable, should not be elected.” After backing the Republican Party during campaigns for a local election in 1900, the paper claimed, “The Chronicle has nothing but kind words personally for the Democratic candidates,” but a few issues later stated: “The Democratic party is between the Devil and the deep sea.”
Publishers in the 1900s included H.G. Miller, Harold T. Hopkins, Clarence Hedges, W.P. Merry, and Ben R. Liftin, the Chronicle’s most prominent editor. Liftin had arrived in The Dalles three days before Christmas in 1906 with only 20 cents in his pocket. He came to work for the Chronicle under H.G. Miller, and found the plant to be a mess. Liftin cleaned up the shop and became co-manager in 1908, then bought the paper with Miller in 1909. In 1915, the Chronicle was sold to Clarence Hedges, but Liftin remained as manager.
In 1920, Liftin shared ownership with real estate operator and fruit-rancher W.P. Merry, and in 1923 Liftin became the sole proprietor. Liftin was steadfast to print the news in the face of threatened boycotts and attempts to stifle his press. He retired from the Chronicle in 1947 and served as president of The Dalles Chamber of Commerce and director of the Oregon State Editorial Association.
The Dalles Chronicle continues to publish the news today.
Prepared with reference to:
City of The Dalles. “City History and Geographical Area.” History and Geography. Accessed August 10, 2011. http://www.ci.the-dalles.or.us/newsite/historygeo
Spatz, Dan. “History of The Dalles Chronicle.” Gorge News Provided by The Dalles Chronicle. Accessed August 11, 2011. http://gorgenews.com/news/?page_id=152
Turnbull, George S. History of Oregon Newspapers. Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1939.
– Written by Sheila Rabun