One of the oldest newspapers in the state
hrough multiple world wars and global pandemics, the newspaper you’re reading right now has continued its non-stop work in keeping Platte Countians informed.
With last week’s edition, the Platte County Landmark, the oldest newspaper in Platte County, older than the Kansas City Star and one of the oldest in the state of Missouri, began its 157th year of continuous publication.
The Landmark has never missed a week of publication since the first edition rolled off the press in the closing days of the Civil War. On Sept. 28, 1865, the first Landmark was published at Weston with the motto “Remove not the ancient landmarks.”
About six years later, The Landmark moved from Weston to Platte City, where it has since been published. The Reveille (another Weston paper) was consolidated with The Landmark with Maj. Thomas W. Park (father of the late Missouri Gov. Guy B. Park) and J.L. McCluer as editors.
An 1800s printer’s box inscribed with the name of Thomas W. Park was found in the basement of The Landmark in 2017, when a team of Landmarkers dropped a ladder through the hidden doorway cut in the floor of the office and went spelunking into the basement.
Upon its arrival in Platte City, The Landmark moved into what was known as The Fleshman House at the foot of Main Street. In January 1873, The Landmark office was moved from the Fleshman House into the Wells and Woodson building in Platte City, on the lot where the former headquarters of Wells Bank now stands in downtown Platte City.
On Feb. 4, 1881, The Landmark and the Advocate, another Democratic paper in Platte City, consolidated and kept the name The Landmark.
Park retired in 1882 after 15 years as editor and about this time, the office of The Landmark moved again, into the upstairs of a brick building on the site where the Central Platte Fire District headquarters now stands near Second and Main in downtown Platte City.
The Landmark began to assume considerable state prominence. It was full of local news, correspondence, literature, and poetry.
LONG TIME AT
In 1899, The Landmark moved into the building at 252 Main Street, where it is still located today.
This building had been built in 1869 by Dr. G.W. Smith as a drug store and a post office. In later years a grocery store and hardware store occupied the building.
In 1899, The Landmark installed a huge sheet-fed Babcock press that would be used until 1979. A Babcock press can still be found in place in The Landmark office today.
A gasoline engine originally furnished the power to run the press until an electric motor was installed in 1928.
In 1916, Max Jones, who had been the shop foreman, began managing the newspaper for the estate of the previous owner.
On Jan. 1, 1918, Max Jones purchased The Landmark and became the editor and publisher. Jones had begun serving an apprenticeship in printing at The Landmark at the age of 16 in 1892. Jones served as editor and publisher until his death in 1956.
Until 1923, the type had been set by hand. In May 1923, a Linotype machine was purchased. The Linotype allowed the operator to set in the same length of time more type than could ordinarily be produced by five or six men working by hand. A Linotype machine is still located in the front window of The Landmark office today, visible to passersby.
After Max Jones’ death in 1956, his widow, Lucile L. Jones, took over as editor and publisher, with Roland Giffee handling printing and press room duties. In 1979, Mrs. Jones sold The Landmark to Dwayne Foley. Foley was the owner of weekly newspapers and a central printing plant in northeastern Kansas.
Mrs. Jones had become acquainted with Foley through the years, periodically asking him to assist with the Babcock press, the Linotype and other Landmark equipment on those occasions it had broken down or she was short on staff.
In the first issue under his ownership in November of 1979, Dwayne Foley switched The Landmark from the old hot lead (known as ‘letterpress’) style of printing to the offset method of printing, the modern thing at the time.
Much of the old letterpress equipment can still be found in The Landmark office today, including the Linotype machine and several typecase chests with many drawers of handset type, along with the Babcock press.
Dwayne Foley, 50, died of a heart attack in July of 1980, just months after buying The Landmark. The paper continued to be owned and published by his widow, Ethel Mae Foley, and family.
Veteran newsman Clay McGinnis, with previous experience at the Independence Examiner and other Kansas City area publications, served as editor of The Landmark from 1980 until 1993.
Ivan Foley, Dwayne Foley’s youngest son who had worked at The Landmark as reporter and general manager since 1982, added the role of editor to his duties when McGinnis died following heart surgery in 1993.
A few months later The Landmark then took the technological step into the computer world, buying its first two desktop publishing computers in November 1993.
Under Foley, the newspaper’s news and editorials began taking a more aggressive approach. Throughout the next decade, The Landmark steadily built a statewide reputation for editorializing in strong fashion and entertaining its readers at the same time.
Ivan Foley purchased the newspaper operation and The Landmark building at 252 Main Street in Platte City from Ethel Mae Foley in 2002. In 2008, Foley rehabbed the front of the building, returning the exterior to its original brick finish.
The Landmark has become a regular winner in the annual Missouri Better Newspaper contest, has been honored for general excellence and is the highest paid circulation newspaper in Platte County.
The Landmark has moved into the multimedia world in recent years. Its website at plattecountylandmark.com was revamped a year ago, and is by far the most popular web presence for local news, information and entertainment, and features advertisements from national brands and national retailers.
The Landmark has a live video broadcast known as Landmark Live, hosted by Foley on the newspaper’s Facebook page and its website. Landmark Live, which was begun in 2017, is a lighthearted and informative show featuring Landmark staff members and notable special guests discussing current events while having some fun at the same time.
Among current Landmark employees are office manager/assistant to the publisher Cindy Rinehart, now in her 29th year at the newspaper. Contributors include 10-year veteran Chris Kamler and his The Rambling Moron column. Kamler is noted for being one of the most popular Twitter figures in Kansas City. Guy Speckman, with his entertaining Ponder the Thought column, is in his second year with The Landmark after previously being owner/publisher of the Savannah Reporter. Brad Carl, a former radio DJ and local musician, is a frequent co-host on Landmark Live.
Debbie Coleman-Topi is in her fifth year as a contributing reporter and Adam VanVolkenburgh is in his sixth year in distribution.