Today marks the 146th anniversary of The News-Review. Douglas County’s only daily newspaper can trace its roots to The Umpqua Ensign, which was first published April 30, 1867, in Roseburg.
The newspaper has been published continuously since then, except for a brief period in the 1870s when a fire destroyed the newspaper building.
The early days of the newspaper were colorful. The owners of the Ensign were two hot-tempered young brothers, Thomas and Henry Gale. The owner of another Roseburg newspaper, The Plaindealer, which was founded in 1870, was William Thompson.
Bitter rivals, the Gales and Thompson routinely attacked each other in print. After one particularly nasty exchange in June 1871, the Gale brothers attacked Thompson outside a saloon in downtown Roseburg. Shots were fired, and all were wounded. None died, thankfully.
Both newspapers would undergo name changes over the years. The Ensign became The Pantagraph in 1872 and The Independent in 1881.
In 1887, the newspaper was sold to J.R.N. Bell, who renamed it the Roseburg Review and converted it from a weekly to a daily newspaper on May 8, 1888.
The Plaindealer was renamed The Umpqua Valley News in 1905. In 1920, The Umpqua Valley News and the Roseburg Review merged to become the Roseburg News-Review.
Eventually, Roseburg dropped out of the title, and the paper became The News-Review.
Another remarkable day in the newspaper’s history was the day of the Roseburg Blast on Aug. 7, 1959. On that day a truck loaded with dynamite and parked near Oak Avenue and Pine Street caught fire.
When it exploded, buildings were destroyed in an eight-block area. The blast led to the deaths of 14 people and injuries to 125.
The News-Review was in downtown Roseburg at that time and the Blast blew in its front door, knocked out the electricity and damaged phone lines. Since the building couldn’t be used, the newspaper was made up and printed at a newspaper office in Klamath Falls.
Three members of the news staff were flown to Klamath Falls by a local airplane owner so they could help build the paper and rewrite stories telephoned in by reporters in Roseburg.
A four-page publication, without advertising, comics, editorials and other standard fare, was produced.
Enough copies to accommodate subscribers were flown back to Roseburg for delivery that Friday night. The other copies were brought by bus and thousands were sold.
Emergency repairs were made to the building and the power restored so the newspaper could resume printing on its own equipment the following day.
The newspaper moved in June of 1969 to its current offices at 345 N.E. Winchester St. in Roseburg. The building was remodeled and expanded in 1999 to nearly 23,000 square feet. Today, The News-Review may also be read online at www.nrtoday.com. It was the first newspaper in the state to host its own website.