Anacortes American

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Anacortes American
Dates of publication
Available online
15 May 1890 - 27 December 2000 (5454 issues)
Anacortes American
Place of publication
Anacortes, Wash.
Vol. 1, no. 1 (May 15, 1890)-
Usage rights
(Pre-1929) No Copyright
(Post-1928) In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted
Anacortes (Wash.) - Newspapers.
Washington (State) - Anacortes.

In 1890, when Douglass Allmond and Frederick H. Boynton established an Independent newspaper, the Anacortes American, Anacortes was a city of great promise. The first edition of the American was distributed on May 15, 1890, and continued on a weekly basis thereafter, delivering eight pages of news, stories, and advertisements on Thursdays to the people of Anacortes and Skagit County. In its initial issue, the paper proclaimed its purpose was “To publish an honest, independent, aggressive newspaper that shall tell the story of our marvelous city and its surroundings.” True to its word, the American commenced in boosterism, hyping up the rapidly expanding community and its immediate surroundings with the intent of promoting the city to all corners of the nation.

The Anacortes American was made the official paper of Skagit County within a year of its inception in 1891, and soon acquired the title of official paper of Anacortes, keeping these honorifics for most of the following years. The boom period for Anacortes was short lived, however, and during that same year, the real estate market in the city crashed. Due to the national Panic of 1893 and the disappointing loss of not becoming a major railway terminal city, Anacortes’s economy failed to recover to the levels desired by its founders, who wished to see the town become the New York City of the West. Instead, the city’s population and industries dwindled. Businesses permanently shut their doors and residents fled for greener pastures, some leaving behind only partially paid properties, which multiplied the number of tax citations in the pages of the American.

Boynton withdrew from the paper by 1893, leaving Allmond as the sole publisher of the now Republican Anacortes American until the beginning of the 20th century. When Allmond sold it to move onto bigger ventures, such as founding Anacortes’s first public water and power utility, the paper shifted hands through a few short-lived editors and publishers. James Morton Post bought the paper in 1907, boosting production with innovative equipment and, in 1913, constructing a new purpose-built building out of which the Anacortes American still operates. Although the city’s New York aspirations proved unfulfilled, Post proudly declared Anacortes the “Gloucester of the Pacific” on the front pages of the paper.

After 23 years of managing the American, working tirelessly to maintain high standards for the publication and its community, Post sold the paper to Vernon McKenzie and Carl A. Sandquist in 1930. In his first editorial, Sandquist assured the American’s readership that the paper would stay true to its initial objective of producing news of, by, and for the community of Anacortes. During their time managing the American, the Great Depression hit, greatly affecting the economy of Anacortes and causing more local industries to fail and flop. The pair ran the paper as best as they could throughout these difficult years, working tirelessly just to keep the paper afloat. The American did not fare much better when the paper was sold to Cornelius Root in 1939, who proved to be a relatively indifferent and absent publisher during his decade of tenure.

In 1950, Wallie Funk and John Webber bought the paper from Root, reviving the publication and focusing heavily on its role as a voice of and for the Anacortes community. During this period, the industries of Anacortes were shifting; with its usual lumber-based economy on the decline, gas and oil companies began setting up refineries on Fidalgo Island. A native of Anacortes and descendant of one of the city’s founders, Funk used the paper as a way to champion the community and engage in projects designed to improve the infrastructure and culture of the city.

A former competitor to the American, the Daily Mercury, which was headed by Joe and Margaret McNary, folded only months after the pair began running the paper. This development led the two men to begin the American Bulletin, a smaller tabloid that appeared a month after the Daily Mercury ceased production, scooping up the former paper’s advertising revenue and readership. Although it was technically a different paper, the weekly Anacortes American and its sibling, the almost-daily American Bulletin, were published concurrently by Funk and Webber until the men merged their newspapers with the Skagit Valley Herald on January 1, 1962.

The American Bulletin was merged with the Herald, but the Anacortes American continued as its own publication, even when both it and the Skagit Valley Herald were bought by the Scripps League Newspapers in 1964. Through its editorial and publisher changes in recent decades, the paper not only endures to this day, but also has kept up with the times, as one can now read the Anacortes American online. Even in its pioneering days, Anacortes was never without a newspaper, with a number of publications coming and going throughout the city’s booms and busts. The Anacortes American, now celebrating over a century of uninterrupted publication, has proven itself to be invested in and embraced by the community of Anacortes.