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Lehi Banner and Lehi Sun
When the Lehi Banner first appeared on May 29, 1891, Lehi, Utah, boasted a population of just over 1,750 people. A farming town about thirty miles south of Salt Lake City, Lehi was founded in 1850 and named for a patriarchal figure from the Book of Mormon. Lehi grew slowly in the decades between its founding and the appearance of its first newspaper, the Banner. Residents of the town produced wheat, oats, barley, and alfalfa and raised cattle and sheep. Lehi was a stop along the route of the Pony Express, but it was the establishment of a sugar plant in 1890 that really sparked the town’s growth.
The Lehi Banner was launched as the official newspaper of the new sugar factory, which was owned by the Utah Sugar Company and financed by the Latter Day Saints Church. As the factory, which had cost $400,000 to build and had a 350-ton capacity, transformed Lehi from a sleepy farming town into the center of beet sugar production in the Intermountain West, the Banner was there to cover the development. Although the weekly never reached more than 550 subscribers and rarely exceeded four printed pages, the Banner attracted advertisers and readers alike with its format of local news, world events, and beet sugar industry analysis. The edition of June 12, 1891, included a front-page account of recent "beet sugar experimentation" along with a story about open-air theatrical productions in New York City.
Local items typically trumped national news in the Banner. Every week, the newspaper included a column titled “Our Town,” which regularly contained information about rapidly growing Lehi. “Already Lehi is taking the front rank as a growing city of the county. We are growing and improving,” the newspaper wrote in June 1891. Nine years later, local interests and new growth continued to dominate the pages of the Banner. A front-page article on February 15, 1900, detailed a new city ordinance prohibiting bicycles from the sidewalks of Main Street and covered a city council debate over the construction of a new road to the sugar factory.
Between 1898 and 1899, the Banner experimented with a semiweekly format, but that proved costly and the newspaper soon went back to weekly publication. In 1915, the Banner’s publishing operation moved to the nearby town of American Fork as a cost-cutting measure, and finally, in 1917, the newspaper was bought out by its main competitor, the Lehi Sun. At the time, the Sun gloated over the victory: “We are pleased to announce that we have taken over the Lehi Banner, and in the future its subscribers will received [sic] the Lehi Sun in its stead.” Yet it was not until May 2, 1929, that Lehi’s first newspaper officially expired, when the Lehi Sun removed its subtitle “combined with Lehi Banner” from its masthead.
Provided by: University of Utah, Marriott Library