PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

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March 14, 2007

Port Arthur News history

The Port Arthur News was born in 1897 in a baggage car on one of the earliest excursion trains brought by Port Arthur founder Arthur E. Stilwell to his "Magic City by the Lake."

As part of Stilwell's million-dollar advertising campaign to draw attention — and residents — to his fledgling community, he sent out invitations to business and professional men to take advantage of opportunities here. David L. Stump, an editor from Asbury, Mo., and his two printer sons Leroy and Will set up a Washington hand press in a baggage car at the end of a nine-car excursion train.

With the help of two younger sons, Mark and Forrest, the Stumps printed the first edition of the Port Arthur News on March 17, 1897, while the train was traveling from Kansas City on Stilwell's Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Gulf Railway. The paper hit the streets the next day as the train arrived in Port Arthur, but the Stumps discovered that the newborn paper already had a rival. The Port Arthur Weekly Herald, published by F. Dumont Smith, made its debut the same day.

The first issue of the News carried news about passengers, real estate ads and the word that Ruby Bob Fitzsimmons had taken the world's heavyweight boxing title from James J. Corbett in Carson City, Nev., with a left-handed punch to the solar plexus: "Corbett was knocked out, but Port Arthur, never!" proclaimed an editorial. "The sound of the saw and hammer are heard in every part of our city."

Early subscription rates were listed at $1 per year or 50 cents for six months "strictly in advance." At the time, Port Arthur barely had 50 permanent residents.

The Port Arthur News has not missed an issue since its debut, even through two major storms early in the paper's history brought Port Arthur to a standstill.

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