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The Washburn leader. [volume] : (Washburn, McLean County, N.D.) 1890-1986
Place of publication:
Washburn, McLean County, N.D.
Geographic coverage:
  • Washburn, McLean, North Dakota  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
R.H. Copeland
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (June 28, 1890)-v. 96, no. 42 (Jan. 29, 1986).
  • English
  • "Official paper of McLean County," 1891-1899, 1903-1911, 1959-1964.
  • Available on microfilm from the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
  • Special editions: Golden Jubilee, published Sept. 23, 1932; Diamond Jubilee, published June 20, 1957; Centennial edition, published June 30, 1982.
sn 85000631
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Succeeding Titles:
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The Washburn leader. [volume] June 28, 1890 , Image 1


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The Washburn Leader

The Washburn Leader (Washburn, ND) began June 28, 1890. The Washburn Leader was a continuation of the Washburn Times (Washburn, ND), the first newspaper in McLean County, North Dakota.

The initial goal of the Washburn Leader in 1890 was to be "purely a business enterprise" and "to make a living for its editor." The editor, at that time, was R. H. Copeland. The first issue also declared, "[W]e desire to announce that we shall be independent in politics and all other matters, and neutral in nothing wherein the public is concerned." The original subscription price of this weekly newspaper was $1 per year.

One of the chief proprietors of the Leader was John Satterlund, who was also a prominent founder of the town of Washburn. Satterlund was joined at the paper in 1920 by Fred F. Jefferis, who remained until 1953, when Oliver Borlaug became editor/publisher. The publisher changed from Borlaug Publishing Co. to McLean Oliver Publishing, Inc. in 1985. Oliver Borlaug continued to serve as publisher emeritus until the final issue of the newspaper. In addition to regular coverage of local businesses and residents, the paper gave significant attention to the region's coal mining (including the Washburn Lignite Coal Company), to the related power plant industry, to agriculture, and to town life along the Missouri River.

News related to the Missouri River can be found throughout Washburn's history, including articles about riverboat voyages in early years, ice jams and floods, irrigation and water development, the development and building of the Garrison Dam (from early proposals to construction and operation), and the highly anticipated construction of the Washburn Bridge. Government support for this bridge, which would connect McLean and Oliver counties, had been pursued for over fifty years. On January 23, 1969, the Washburn Leader noted that "one of the oldest recorded direct actions taken, if not the oldest, was in April 1908, when three Washburn men literally took the bull by the horns and went all the way to official Washington to seek a bridge at this point." Government funding was finally secured, construction started in 1970, and the grand opening of the long-awaited Washburn Bridge occurred on November 30, 1971.

The Washburn Leader was in publication for nearly a century. By 1986, the subscription price had risen to $12 a year. On February 5, 1986, the Washburn Leader merged with the Wilton News (Wilton, ND) to become the Leader-News (Washburn, ND).

Provided by: State Historical Society of North Dakota