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The beacon of Dillingham. : (Dillingham, Alaska) 1952-1955
Alternative Titles:
  • Beacon
Place of publication:
Dillingham, Alaska
Geographic coverage:
  • Dillingham, Alaska  |  View more titles from this: City State
Muriel Spears
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 2, no. 17 (Feb. 27, 1952)-v. 6, no. 4 (July 20, 1955).
Semimonthly (irregular)
  • English
  • Alaska--Dillingham.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01220196
  • Dillingham (Alaska)--Newspapers.
sn 97060061
Preceding Titles:
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The beacon of Dillingham. March 12, 1952 , Image 1


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Beacon Dillingham news and The beacon of Dillingham

The beacon Dillingham news was a semimonthly publication that first appeared on March 30, 1950. It was edited by Muriel Spears (sometimes spelled Murielle) and Ruth Palmer and featured hand-drawn ads and illustrations. The Beacon featured coverage of debates and issues on fishing in Bristol Bay and the Nushagak River as well as various labor disputes, including the debate over transitioning from sailboats to powered boats in Bristol Bay. The Beacon primarily reported on local news and popular topics of discussion were proposals on boosting the tourism industry, providing electricity to Dillingham, and sewage and water systems. Sanitation was a problem and many issues included front-page notices about the presence of various diseases in town.

The first years of the paper featured steady coverage of the dispute between the Alaska Salmon Industry (ASI) and the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Union (BSFU) over the use of powerboats in Bristol Bay. The Beacon printed articles, proposals, and counter proposals written by union representatives and the Alaska Salmon Industry until they reached an agreement in May 1952. Another item of coverage was discussions with the Fish and Wildlife Services over closure of the Nushagak River to outside fishing in 1953.

The Beacon also published two extra editions devoted to a back-and-forth argument between the regional director of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Rick Atkinson, and the local priest, Father George Endal. Endal was a firm supporter of the BSFU, which was supported by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and he paid for the production of an extra edition of the Beacon on March 21, 1962 to carry a letter from him with his side of the debate. Endal’s letter accused the CIO and Rick Atkinson of supporting communism, which he claimed was truly at the heart of the debate, and called on people to support the local AFL union. Since his death in 1996, Endal’s reputation in the community has been tarnished. According to the Diocese of Fairbanks, there have been 26 credible accusations of sexual abuse against him.

Although officially the paper was a semimonthly, the Beacon publication frequency was irregular, and many months only had one issue. The first article of 1953, after a 4-month absence, noted that it was the paper’ policy to try and publish 20 issues per year at minimum, but subscribers were still owed 6 for 1952. By 1952 Spears was the only listed editor. Spears’s notes in the publisher’s block grew more tongue-in-cheek over the years and several implied that she faced some criticism for the newspaper, writing in the first issue of 1955 that its detractors had cause for celebration as the issue length was down to 6 pages. In the last issue on July 20, 1955, Spears announced that she was leaving to attend a university and the paper was to be suspended.

Provided by: Alaska State Library Historical Collections