< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >
Thomas Prosch publishes Tacoma's first newspaper, the Pacific Tribune, on August 9, 1873.
HistoryLink.org Essay 5046
: Printer-Friendly Format
On August 9, 1873, Thomas Prosch (1850-1915) publishes Tacoma's first newspaper, the Pacific Tribune. Prosch moved the newspaper from Olympia to Tacoma immediately after the Northern Pacific Railroad chose Tacoma as its western terminus. Prosch, along with everyone else, expects Tacoma to become a railroad-boom town if not the leading city of the West. The daily appears every evening. Its motto is: "Here Shall the Press the People's Rights Proclaim, Unawed by Influence and Unbribed by Gain." The paper is highly successful until the national financial panic of 1873 occurred little more than a month later. In June 1875, Prosch, declaring regret and high regard for the people of Tacoma, moves the paper to Seattle.
A Newspaper Family
Prosch was the son of Charles W. Prosch, a pioneer newspaper publisher who had been issuing papers in Steilacoom and Olympia since 1858. Thomas and his brother Fred were printers and writers and with their father had published the Weekly Pacific Tribune in Olympia since 1869. The year before moving the paper to Tacoma, Thomas had succeeded his father as publisher.
On July 14, 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad announced its decision to make Tacoma the western Terminus, dashing hopes in Seattle and elsewhere. In early August 1873, Thomas loaded his hand press and cases of type onto a small vessel and moved the newspaper to Tacoma. The first issue had an article on "The Terminus" that discussed Tacoma's prospects as the future leading city of the West. It also had a piece on the high cost of living.
Good Times and Bad
The population of Tacoma (1870) was about 500 (population of Pierce County 1,409), and though the town looked like the raw lumber town it was, it was booming. The newspaper was popular and successful. Everybody subscribed and many residents took several subscriptions so they could send copies back East. The Weekly, which reprinted many of the pieces in the Daily, appeared for the first time on August 16, 1873.
On September 18, 1873, the bank of Jay Cook, Philadelphia banker and financial officer of the Northern Pacific Railroad, locked the doors on its depositors. Financial panic spread throughout the country. Tacoma was hit hard, and newspaper sales dropped. Thomas Prosch printed the last Tacoma issue on June 11, 1875, and moved the paper to Seattle. He published the Seattle Pacific Tribune for more than a year, and eventually became publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Thomas Prosch was killed in an automobile accident on March 30, 1915.
Paul W. Harvey, Tacoma Headlines: An Account of Tacoma News and Newspapers From 1873 to 1962 (Tacoma: The Tacoma News Tribune, 1962),11-12; Murray Morgan, Puget's Sound: A Narrative of Early Tacoma and the Southern Sound (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979), 164-165.
Note: The date of Thomas Prosch's death was corrected in this file on March 6, 2006.
Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay
Browse to Next Essay >
Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that
encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both
HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any
reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this
Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For
more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact
the source noted in the image credit.
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided
By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins
| Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry
| 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle
| City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach
Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private
Sponsors and Visitors Like You