Travel & Tourism

Read all about it: Oregon museum is a step back in newspaper time

A Washington Hand Press that still works is at the Marshfield Sun Printing Museum in Coos Bay, Oregon. The press was used to by Jesse Luce to produce the paper until his death in 1944.
A Washington Hand Press that still works is at the Marshfield Sun Printing Museum in Coos Bay, Oregon. The press was used to by Jesse Luce to produce the paper until his death in 1944. kmagandy@sunherald.com

My husband and I trekked out to the Pacific Northwest recently to visit family and see much of what Oregon has to offer, including a step back in time for the publishing industry at the Marshfield Sun.

It was the paper of record for Coos Bay (then Marshfield) and was owned and operated by Jesse Allen Luse from 1869-1944. Luse also served as editor and publisher from 1891 to 1944.

Jesse Luse had finished typesetting pages 1 and 4 and was working on pages 2 and 3 when he started not feeling well. He went home early and died a few days later, his cold type pages unfinished.

That edition was never printed. The family closed the doors of the Marshfield Sun offices, which sat dark for about 30 years, according to our tour guide and docent, George Tinker, a retired teacher from Marshfield High School.

About 30 years after Luse’s passing, the city and a board of trustees opened the offices for tours of what is now known as the Marshfield Sun Printing Museum.

Amazingly, the offices remained intact largely the way they were left when Luce, at 77, left that last day. The building, constructed with five sides to best capture the maximum amount of natural light to benefit newspaper work, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition, the trustees in 2013 accepted ownership of bound copies of the Oregonian, the Bandon Western World, Umpqua Post, Southwestern Oregon News, Coos Bay Times and The World. The trustees are hoping they can find a permanent home for the collection.

A true newspaper geek, I reveled in the cold type stored in 14 different cabinets, with different type faces (fonts) and sizes.

Luse’s humor was evident in the rules of the newspaper offices tacked up on a wall

Tinker did a great job of explaining the cold type and hot type processes, how the old Washington Hand Press worked, and even showing (now under glass) the two pages of type Luse was working on when he left work that day.

Truly like stepping back in time, given most everything now is in a digital format.

If you ever get a chance to get out to Oregon and are anywhere near Coos Bay, schedule a trip to the Marshfield Sun. You won’t be disappointed.

Kate Magandy: 228-896-2344, @kmagandy

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