|A Mark Twain bust looks on as Don Russell edits The Mountain Messenger. (Los Angeles Times photo by Kent Nishimura)|
|Sierra County, California, with Plumas|
County to the north (Wikipedia map)
"Editor-Publisher Don Russell had spent the past year trying to sell the state’s oldest weekly newspaper with no luck. He is planning to retire by the middle of January, at which point publication will end," Brittany Mejia reports for the Los Angeles Times. He told her, “I haven’t taken a salary to speak of” for the last two years. “Nobody in their right mind would buy this paper. . . . I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’m tired of it.”
The Messenger's circulation is "about 2,400 on its best day," Mejia writes. "The paper dates to 1853, when it was started as a twice-monthly publication. It became the Mountain Messenger in 1854 or 1855 and moved to La Porte and then to Downieville, a Gold Rush community about 110 miles northeast of Sacramento. The paper’s claim to fame is that Twain once wrote there while hiding out from the law. He was only there for a couple of weeks, writing under his real name, Sam Clemens, according to Russell, who read some of his articles on microfilm."
“They were awful,” Russell told Mejia. “They were just local stories, as I recall, written by a guy with a hangover.”