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The Blackfoot optimist. [volume] : (Blackfoot, Idaho) 1907-1918
Alternative Titles:
  • Twice-a-week optimist
Place of publication:
Blackfoot, Idaho
Geographic coverage:
  • Blackfoot, Bingham, Idaho  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Optimist Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 10, no. 45 (Oct. 10, 1918).
  • Began with Nov. 21, 1907 issue.
Weekly Jan. 22, 1913-Oct. 10, 1918
  • English
  • Blackfoot (Idaho)--Newspapers.
  • Idaho--Blackfoot.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01230546
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 4, no. 3 (Dec. 15, 1910).
sn 86091195
Succeeding Titles:
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The Blackfoot optimist. [volume] December 15, 1910 , Image 1


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The Blackfoot Optimist and The Bingham County News

Karl P. Brown, an Ohio native, left his home at age 14 to pursue an adventurous life in the American West. He worked for 15 years as a cattle rancher in Montana before moving to southern Idaho to work on building an irrigation project near the Fort Hall Indian reservation. As the project came to completion, Brown decided to stay in the town of Blackfoot, Idaho, and set up a newspaper, intending for it to be temporary employment. On November 21, 1907, he published the first issue of the Blackfoot Optimist. Published weekly on Thursdays, the paper leaned towards Republican sentiments and strove for the advancement of the community. It was eight pages with six columns. The Optimist contained news of all Bingham County, neighboring Butte County, and the bordering states of Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. Within a few years, it had a circulation of more than 1,000 readers.

In its early years, Blackfoot stood astride the main railroad line supplying the then booming mines of Custer County, Idaho. As the town developed, its primary industry shifted from railroad transportation to agriculture. Beet and potato farming, fruit orchards, sugar factories, and the raising of dairy cows, hogs, poultry and other livestock were the basis of Blackfoot's economy, and these topics filled the columns of the Optimist. Irrigation was, and remains to this day, a large concern in the dry farmlands of southern Idaho. The Optimist covered many stories of irrigation projects and provided water usage tips and guidelines for the farmers of Bingham County. A mental-health hospital, called the Idaho Insane Asylum, was also located in Blackfoot, and the Optimist published an "Asylum Report" in 1914, which provided a description of the 300-person institution. It also recommended that the name be changed to the South Idaho Sanitarium, a change which eventually took effect.

In January 1912, the Optimist began semiweekly publication, and for one year it maintained a printing schedule of Monday and Thursday under the masthead, “Twice-a-Week Optimist.” The paper was reduced in size to four or six pages with six columns. In January 1913, it reverted to a weekly schedule, published on Thursdays. In November 1913, after six years as owner, Karl P. Brown sold the Optimist to William M. Dooley, formerly of the Shelley Pioneer. Dooley published the paper for five years before changing its name to the Bingham County News on October 17, 1918. However, the News soon went bankrupt, and in September 1920 it was put up for auction by authority of the county sheriff. William S. Parkhurst, a failed politician from Richfield, Idaho, and known throughout the region as "Farmer Bill," purchased the paper and employed Charles J. Lisle as editor for a number of months. In April 1921, Berkley Walker took over ownership of the News, but by the following September he had sold it to Raymond N. Ludi. The Bingham County News ran until August 20, 1930, when it was absorbed by the Idaho Republican, also of Blackfoot.

Provided by: Idaho State Historical Society