On this day in 1859…

On this day 155 years ago the Rocky Mountain News published its first edition. Some of you Coloradans might remember “The Rocky” -but for those who don’t- here is a snapshot of its colorful history.

William N. Byers circa 1903. Photographer unknown, public domain

Several months after publishing its first edition the Rocky Mountain News moved its building from Uncle Dick Wooten’s Saloon at 1413-15 11th St to a cabin at 14th and Market (Denver).

In August of the same year the RMN becomes a daily newspaper and moves it offices once again to a building elevated on stilts in the middle of Cherry Creek (13th and Walnut) and if you know much about Colorado flood history you know what happened a few years later…

May 1864, a flash flood sweeps away the building that housed the RMN. Consequently the Rocky moved its offices several more times until it settled again at 16th and Larimer, known as the “news block”, until 1887 when it moved to 17th and Curtis.

In 1878 William Byers sells the paper to railroad magnate W.A.H. Loveland. Loveland modernized the paper with telephones, typesetting machines and wire services. Through the 1880s the paper changes part owners until full ownership changes hands in 1894 to influential Democratic Sen. Thomas M. Patterson.

The late 1890s included a few “firsts” for the RMN when the first photograph is published in 1898 and in 1901 colored ink is used for the first time.

In December of 1907 a rift developed between the RMN and the Denver Post resulting in the owner of the Post, Frederick G. Bonfils, giving T.M. Patterson a bloody nose!

Through the early 20th century things are quiet while the RMN goes through some publishing and ownership changes. By 1927 the rivalry between the RMN and the Post has intensified. Until this point the Post was only publishing in the afternoon and the RMN published in the morning, but the Post decided to launch a morning edition and in retaliation the RMN prints an afternoon edition!

Despite the rivalry, the RMN continues to publish and evolve through the mid-century until it reaches another milestone and publishes its first full-color edition in 1993. In April 2000 the RMN is awarded its first Pulitzer Prize for photographic coverage of the 1999 Columbine High School Shooting. This same year The Rocky and The Post enter into a joint operating agreement that is approved by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in 2001.

In 2003 the RMN wins another breaking-news photography Pulitzer for Colorado’s 2002 wildfire season, and in 2006 reporter Jim Sheeler and photographer Todd Heis are awarded Pulitzers for their report Final Salute.

In 2008 the owners of the RMN announce they will seek a buyer for the paper. The resulting final issue appeared on Friday, February 27 2009, less than two months shy of the paper’s 150th anniversary.


(Source: Hudson, Barbara. “Rocky Mountain News History Timeline.” Denverpost.com. Posted Feb. 27, 2009)



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