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Hungry Horse news and Columbian. [volume] : (Columbia Falls, Mont.) 1946-1948
Place of publication:
Columbia Falls, Mont.
Geographic coverage:
  • Columbia Falls, Flathead, Montana  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
M. Ruder
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 8, 1946)-v. 2, no. 34 (Mar. 26, 1948).
  • English
  • Columbia Falls (Mont.)--Newspapers.
  • Montana--Columbia Falls.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01227184
  • "An Independent newspaper."
  • "The West Glacier and Upper Flathead Valley's local paper for Columbia Falls, Martin City, Coram and Belton."
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
sn 85053053
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Hungry Horse news and Columbian. [volume] August 8, 1946 , Image 1


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The Hungry Horse News and Hungry Horse news and Columbian

Mel Ruder published the first issue of the Hungry Horse News in Columbia Falls, Montana, on August 8, 1946 as the Hungry Horse News and Columbian. After about two years, the "... and Columbian" disappeared from the title, and the paper kept its current name.

Ruder earned his bachelor's degree in journalism and minored in European history at the University of North Dakota in 1937. He received his master's degree in sociology from Northwestern University in 1942. After serving in the Navy, Mel toured the western United States, visiting California, Washington, Colorado, Utah, and Montana. While camping in Glacier National Park, Mel heard about the upcoming Hungry Horse Dam project, which was set to attract thousands of workers and bring great economic benefit to Flathead County. Sensing a journalistic opportunity, Ruder went to Whitefish, Montana, to apply for a job at the Whitefish Pilot. Editor of the Pilot, G.M. "Gurnie" Moss, could only offer Ruder a job as a Linotype operator. He suggested that Mel start a newspaper in nearby Columbia Falls, which hadn't had a newspaper in years. Ruder took Moss's advice and moved to Columbia Falls. The Hungry Horse News became operational within five weeks.

One of the paper's distinguishing features was its outstanding photography. In 1946, such a graphics-heavy local newspaper was uncommon. Already an accomplished photographer, Mel provided the paper with numerous pictures to print alongside the words.

The Press carried the usual local stories of fires, new construction, and community events but did so with an unusually strict focus on the surrounding communities. As Ruder wrote in his August 15, 1946 editorial, "It is the hope of the Hungry Horse News that every family who lives in this part of the county will from time to time be mentioned in our columns. This paper is interested in what you do in the hard working normal lives you live." Glacier National Park, diverse wildlife, the US Forest Service, and the Great Northern Railway received frequent coverage as well.

Between 1946 and 1964, the Hungry Horse News reported on three of the area’s main historic events: The construction of the Hungry Horse Dam, the construction and opening of the Anaconda Aluminum Company plant near Columbia Falls, and the devastating flood of 1964. Reporting on the latter won the paper its only Pulitzer Prize in 1965.

From its first issue, the paper was brimming with boosterism for the region. Much of the enthusiastic promotion appeared in Ruder's editorials. In the first editorial, entitled "We Have a Great Future," he wrote about Flathead County's large amount of land and lumber, tourism industry opportunities, and mining potential.

Politics in the paper were mostly neutral as it was meant to be "An Independent Country Weekly." However, the editor was a moderate Democrat and occasionally endorsed politicians accordingly.

Ruder officially retired in 1978 after selling the News to Bruce Kennedy. Bruce's son, Brian, assumed editorship. Brian and his wife, Carol ran the paper for 20 years before selling it to Lee Enterprises.

Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT