Home | Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search

[The New York Times was mistaken in identifying The Aurora Times as the newspaper related to this printing press. A similar article appeared May 2, 1863 in The Esmeralda Star identifying that paper as the former owner of the printing press in the following story. It has never been proven that Mark Twain's works appeared in either The Aurora Times or The Esmeralda Star newspaper.]

The New York Times, August 16, 1925


The printing press that launched Mark Twain on his literary career will retire from active service this Summer. A regular tramp among printing presses it has been, except that, untramplike, it has never shirked work. It has never missed a weekly issue on its last job, which had lasted exactly fifty-five years on July 9. It was on its next-to-the-last job that the press was the unassertive partner of young Sam Clemens.

The last fifty years - not its hardest - have been spent in the little California town of Independence, on the edge of the desert. Not only is the press itself to go out of business; The Inyo Independent, also whose voice the press has spread across the desert, through the valleys, even so far as to meet the echo of roaring Los Angeles. The financial burden of publishing the paper has become to great, the editor announces.

The press - an old Washington hand press - left New York on its first assignment in 1848. It landed in Baton Rouge, where it supported Zachary Taylor for President. From Baton Rouge it went to Panama, where it was shipwrecked by the overturning of a barge. It was salvaged from the mud, however, and put to work getting out The Panama Herald.

In 1850 the press followed Horace Greeley's advice and turned up in San Francisco, arriving on a sailing ship. There The Placer Times and Transcript made use of it for a year. It got a better job in San Diego, publishing the new San Diego Herald. From there it was persuaded to enter the service of Brigham Young, in the Mormon settlement at San Bernadino.

The old press was next loaded on a wagon and dragged through desert sands, up steep mountain sides and through passes, to Aurora, Nev., a mining boom camp. It was here that it made the acquaintance of and advertised as widely as possible the work of a young and red-headed reporter, Sam Clemens. The Aurora Times was a stanch Union paper, and through the Civil War days the editors and their little press were faithfully guarded by shotgun deputies.

When Aurora gave up the brave fight, the old press and the young reporter went different ways. The world watched the reporter, but the press again made the rocking wagon pilgrimage across the mountains and into a little desert pocket below the level of the sea, in the edge of the region that a generation later it was to help advertise as Imperial Valley. Here it has labored without cessation for fifty-five years.

[see similar story that appeared May 2, 1863 in The Esmeralda Star]

Return to The New York Times index

Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search