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Landmark begins its 140th year of publication

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

With this issue, The Landmark begins its 140th year of informing Platte County citizens.
The Landmark, located in Platte City, is the oldest newspaper in Platte County and one of the oldest in the state of Missouri. First issue of The Landmark went to press less than six months after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It has been published weekly without interruption since that time.

The first Landmark was published at Weston on Sept. 28, 1865 with the motto "Remove not the ancient landmarks." In its early days, The Landmark espoused the cause of the Confederacy and consistently promoted the Democratic party in politics.

Over the past 10-15 years, the newspaper has broken from its earlier stance of only endorsing candidates/policies of the Democratic party and is now generally considered a politically conservative publication. The Landmark has developed a statewide reputation for editorializing in strong fashion. It is the only weekly paper in the county to show a growth in paid circulation each of the past several years.

In 2001, the newspaper unveiled its site on the worldwide web at The site now gets more than 15,000 page views in a typical week and features an interactive community forum where opinions and thoughts can be posted by visitors to the site.

The newspaper consistently wins honors in the Missouri Press Association's annual Better Newspaper Contest. Photojournalist Bill Hankins provides periodic essays that have won statewide awards. The newspaper frequently makes local history a big part of the present, an example being last fall's series about the local adventures of notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, written by reporter Mark Vasto.

After beginning publication in Weston in 1865, The Landmark moved to Platte City in 1871, where it has since been published. The Reveille (another Weston paper) was consolidated with The Landmark with Maj. Thomas W. Park (father of the late Missouri Gov. Guy B. Park) and J.L. McCluer as editors.

When the printing equipment was being moved from Weston to Platte City, Kansas Redleggers, a group on the opposite side of the newspaper on Civil War issues, intercepted and dumped the presses into the river.

After occupying several different locations in its early days in Platte City, The Landmark moved into its current location on Main Street in 1899. In that same year, The Landmark installed a huge hand-fed Babcock press that would be used until 1979. That press is still found in the back of the office today. A gasoline engine originally furnished the power to run the press until an electric motor was installed in 1928.

Also still on display is a Linotype machine from 1923. This typesetting "wonder" in its day allowed the operator to set more type than could ordinarily be produced by five or six men working by hand.

In 1916, Max Jones, shop foreman, began managing The Landmark and eventually bought the operation in 1918. Jones served as editor and publisher until his death in 1956. His widow, Lucile L. Jones, became editor and publisher at that time. The paper began to primarily focus on social news and community items.

In 1979, Mrs. Jones sold the newspaper to Dwayne Foley, who owned several weekly papers. Foley switched The Landmark from the old hot lead style of printing to the offset method. Foley died just months after his purchase and the paper continued to be owned by his widow, Ethel Mae Foley, until 2002, when it was purchased by their youngest son, Ivan, who had managed the operation for many years.

After using Compugraphic typesetting equipment since 1979, in 1993 The Landmark joined the computer age with the installation of two IBM-compatible units. Reflective of its growth over the past decade, today the newspaper has five computer workstations and one portable unit. It uses digital photography and features four-color capability.


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