Vale, Malheur Enterprise

Malheur enterprise 
[LCCN: sn00063530]
Vale, Malheur County, Oregon
1909 – current

The City of Vale, located near the eastern Oregon border, provided the first stop in Oregon for settlers along the historic Oregon Trail. Vale was inundated with mining promoters from Alaska and the far north in 1906, led by Major L.H. French, who provided financial backing for the Malheur Enterprise [LCCN: sn00063530], first published on November 20, 1909. The paper was published every Saturday for $2.00 a year, and was truly enterprising in every respect, with “screaming headlines, red-hot editorials, and a general booster spirit” (Turnbull 1939, 428).

The paper’s first manager was B.M. Stone, and the first editor was John J. McGrath, who had worked on newspapers in Alaska and Seattle before coming to Vale. In 1912, John Rigby took over for Stone and promoted the Warm Springs irrigation project. In 1915 John E. Roberts purchased the paper. After Robert’s death a year later, Rigby took charge of the Enterprise again, with Homer and Rolla Roberts, John E. Robert’s sons, as mechanical workers. Homer Roberts later became a reporter for the Corvallis Gazette-Times [LCCN: sn83004714] and the Eugene Guard [LCCN: sn96088108]. Active Oregon journalist George Huntington Currey bought the paper in 1917, and in 1920, Currey traded the Enterprise to Bruce Dennis, publisher of the La Grande Evening Observer [LCCN: 2006260039] and the La Grande Weekly Observer [LCCN: 2006260033], in exchange for the Baker Herald [LCCN: sn96088187]. Dennis hired William Seeman as editor.

The Enterprise reported on local oil, water, and railroad developments, as well as legal cases, current events, “Oregon State Items of Interest,” and news from the national congress. Editorials offered commentary on politics, industry, Native American relations and women’s roles, supplemented by short stories, cartoons, and poems. The Enterprise promoted universal suffrage and women’s voting rights, and advocated for honest politics and popular government. After its first month in publication, the paper expressed “appreciation of the very generous support given to it by the people of Vale and Malheur County generally” for helping to make the Enterprise “literally the paper of the people.”

The growth of Vale can be traced through the paper’s masthead captions, reading “Vale – ‘The Last Frontier,’ the Banner Livestock County of the United States –Oil, Fruit, and Farm Land” in 1910, “Vale, Core of the ‘New Empire of the West,’ Oil, Irrigated Farm and Fruit Lands, the Banner Livestock County of the United States” in 1913, and later, “Vale – Corn, Alfalfa, Cattle, Hogs, Sheep, Railroads – ‘Come to Vale in 1915’.”

The Enterprise was sold to Lloyd Riches, formerly of The Stanfield Standard [LCCN: sn85042486], in the early 1920s, who sold it to Charles K. Crandall in 1923. In 1924, printer and publisher Winfield S. Brown took over for Riches until 1930. During Brown’s ownership, Mrs. Dottie Crummett Edwards served as editor until 1925, followed by Mrs. Alma McLing, who edited the paper until 1931. Mrs. Edwards went on to work for the Ontario Argus [LCCN: sn00063520]. The Vale Malheur Enterprise is still in publication today.

Prepared with reference to:

Turnbull, George S. History of Oregon Newspapers. Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1939.

– Written by Sheila Rabun

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