© 2024
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bismarck Tribune


Squatters, anticipating the coming of the Railroad camped at various spots along the anticipated route, counting on the tracks to come through their camp which would then become a town. Squatters with that very thought in mind braved the winter of 1871 and ’72 around what would eventually become Bismarck, and their persistence paid off when the first train arrived on this date, June 5th in 1873. On board that first historic Northern Pacific train to arrive in Bismarck was the first printing press for the Bismarck Tribune. One month and one week later, on July 6th 1873, founder and publisher, Clement Lounsberry watched the first edition of the paper come off the sheet-fed press. Volume One, Issue One was nothing fancy…No front page photos…not even any headlines…just eight pages cramped with columns of news and of course…advertising.

But apparently there weren’t quite enough ads to satisfy the publisher. Soon after the paper began publishing, Clement Lounsberry wrote this in his paper. “A town is always judged by its local paper. If it is lively and bristles with advertising and business notices, a stranger at once concludes the town is a live one. If, on the contrary…the advertising patronage is meager, the town is set down as more than half dead. Will not the Bismarck people contribute largely toward making the Tribune a paper that will do credit to the place…?” Well, the message must have gotten across because the paper is still around today, 134 years later.

Lounsberry was an innovator when it came to selling his paper. In what may have been the Tribune’s first special subscription deal, in the August 12th, 1874 edition, readers were offered a “splendid Chromo Lithograph of General Custer and the Bismarck Tribune for one year, for two dollars” if they would send that amount to this simple address…The Tribune, Bismarck, D.T. (for Dakota Territory).

Interestingly enough, perhaps the paper’s greatest claim to fame is that it published, in its July 6, 1876 edition, the first account of the defeat and death of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25th and 26th of that year. Tribune publisher Clement Lounsberry also sent his 50,000 word story of the battle by telegraph to the New York Herald and it is still considered one of the greatest news stories of all time.

By Merrill Piepkorn


History of North Dakota by Elwyn Robinson

Bismarck Tribune-July 11, 2003

Bismarck Tribune-April 11, 2003