Published each week since the closing days of the Civil War
Consistency and endurance.
Effective with last week’s edition, The Landmark has begun its 158th year of continuous publication. The oldest newspaper in Platte County–older than the Kansas City Star and one of the oldest in the state–The Landmark has never missed a week of publication since its founding in the closing days of the Civil War in 1865.
The newspaper’s debut edition hit the streets on Sept. 28, 1865, when 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.
After The Landmark moved to Platte City in 1871, it took up shop in a variety of downtown locations until settling in at its current spot in the year 1899.
In March of 1899, The Landmark moved into the building at 252 Main Street. 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 before the newspaper took over occupancy.
In 1899, The Landmark installed a huge sheet-fed Babcock press that would be used until 1979. 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, 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 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, who was the owner of two weekly newspapers and a central printing plant in northeastern Kansas.
Over the years Mrs. Jones had become acquainted with Foley, skilled as both a newspaperman and a pressman, 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 edition 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, 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, several typecase chests with many drawers of handset type, along with the large Babcock sheet-fed press, still in place in the rear portion of the office. Just a year ago, two of the small job presses that had been operated by Landmark printer Roland Giffee back in the day to print letterheads, envelopes, flyers, etc., were sold to a young Kansas City-based press operator who refurbished them and put them back into present-day use.
Dwayne Foley, 50, died unexpectedly 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 news editor of The Landmark from May of 1980 until 1993.
Ivan Foley, Dwayne Foley’s youngest son, is now in his 40th year at The Landmark, having started with reporting and managing duties in May of 1982. Ivan Foley added the role of news editor to his duties after McGinnis died during heart surgery in 1993.
A few months later, The Landmark took its first step into the computer world, buying its first two desktop publishing computers in November 1993. The newspaper’s news and editorials began taking a more aggressive approach. Throughout the next 15 years, The Landmark’s circulation grew to become the largest paid readership in the county, steadily building a statewide reputation for editorializing in strong fashion while informing and entertaining readers.
The newspaper has won many statewide awards in the Missouri Press Associations Better Newspaper Contest and in 2016, Ivan Foley was presented a national honor for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural journalism, winning the Tom and Pat Gish Award presented by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media.
THE LANDMARK BUILDING
In 2002, Ivan Foley and his wife, Linda, purchased the newspaper operation and The Landmark building at 252 Main Street in Platte City from Ethel Mae Foley.
In a months-long project in 2008, Ivan and Linda renovated the exterior of the historic 1869 Landmark building to return it to more of its original look. Commercial Waterproofing of Parkville was hired to strip away paint that for years had covered the building’s original brick, tuckpointing the brick for a fresh look and adding water-repellant sealer.
Topping off the rehab project were four new large arch-style windows installed on the second story. The aluminum energy efficient windows were installed by JPI Glass of Platte County.
The rehabilitation work was recognized by the City of Platte City, with Foleys being presented the first William Paxton Preservation Award for preserving Main Street’s architectural heritage. The award was presented by Mayor Frank Offutt and the board of aldermen in March of 2009.
In recent years, The Landmark has become a multi-media news outlet, incorporating video in its news coverage.
Its website at plattecountylandmark.com was revamped during the pandemic in May of 2020, and is the most popular media website in the county. The Landmark’s website attracts national advertisers such as Nissan, Staples, Office Depot, Walgreens, YouTubeTV and many more.
The Landmark has a video broadcast known as Landmark Live, hosted by Ivan 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 Cindy Rinehart, now in her 30th year at the newspaper. Reporter Valerie Verkamp is in her 11th year with The Landmark and reporter Debbie Coleman-Topi is in her sixth year.
Weekly contributors on page 3 include 11-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 interesting and entertaining Ponder the Thought column, is in his third year with The Landmark after previously being owner/publisher of the Savannah Reporter, a weekly newspaper in Savannah, Mo. Hearne Christopher, who was the most well-read columnist for the Kansas City Star in the late 1990s and early 2000s, provides an occasional KC Confidential column.
Fred Felix of Platte City is in his second year assisting with distribution duties, running delivery routes each week primarily through southern Platte County.
Brad Carl, a former radio DJ and local musician, is a frequent co-host on Landmark Live.