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History of The Wichita Eagle

Press operator Stephen Looney gets ready to upload a roll of paper into the press at the Wichita Eagle on Tuesday. (May 24, 2016)
Press operator Stephen Looney gets ready to upload a roll of paper into the press at the Wichita Eagle on Tuesday. (May 24, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect date for the switch from Wichitaeagle.com to Kansas.com.

1870: F.A. Sowers founds the Wichita Vidette, the city’s first newspaper. It operates briefly.

April 12, 1872: Col. Marshall Murdock publishes the first Eagle at Third and Main. He wants to name it “The Victor” in honor of his wife, Victoria. She prefers to name it after the eagle, a symbol of American freedom and liberty. She wins a coin toss. By August, The Eagle moves to Main and Douglas, where the Hardage Center now stands. It publishes weekly.

Oct. 18, 1872: F.A. Sowers and David Millison start The Beacon. It publishes daily for two months, then becomes a weekly.

1881: The Eagle becomes one of the first subscribers to local telephone service and is listed in a directory of 62 phones.

1883: The Eagle signs a contract for gas lights.

1884: The Eagle and The Beacon start daily publication.

1900: The Eagle starts a women’s fashion department and its first features pages.

1903: Comic strips and cartoon features start.

1908: Eagle building is constructed at southwest corner of Market and William.

1910: Ten-story Beacon building at 114 S. Main hailed as Wichita’s first skyscraper.

1927: Eagle begins receiving wire reports on teletype machines.

1928: Max and Louis Levand buy the Beacon. They promote community journalism and commission a peppy song, “The Wichita Beacon March.” They construct a new Beacon building where The Eagle is now at 825 E. Douglas.

For the next several decades, The Beacon and The Eagle are locked in bitter rivalry.

July 13, 1959: Time magazine refers to Wichita as “the bottom of journalism’s barrel” as the papers try to “outdo each other in sensationalism.”

1960: The Eagle buys the Beacon Newspaper Corp. and begins publishing the afternoon Wichita Evening Eagle and Beacon, the morning Wichita Eagle and the Sunday Eagle and Beacon.

1973: Murdock family sells The Eagle and Beacon to Ridder Publications.

1974: Ridder merges with Knight Newspapers to form Knight Ridder.

1980: The two Wichita papers merge to become The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. The paper is redesigned and sections are added.

1984: Time magazine calls The Wichita Eagle-Beacon one of the best midsize newspapers in the country.

Sept. 7, 1989: The Wichita Eagle-Beacon becomes simply The Wichita Eagle.

Nov. 18, 1996: The Eagle launches its first website, Wichita Online, at www.wichitaeagle.com.

Jan. 22, 2000: Wichita Online becomes Kansas.com.

July 2001: Knight Ridder, The Eagle’s parent company, spends $27.6 million for two new presses and related equipment. It was one of the largest investments in downtown in decades, replacing equipment dating back as far as the Korean War. The new maximum capacity was 70,000 copies an hour – 40 percent faster than before.

June 26, 2006: Editor & Publisher, a newspaper trade magazine, lists The Eagle among 10 newspapers “that do it right.”

June 28, 2006: The Eagle publishes its first edition under the ownership of the McClatchy Co. The company had reached a $6.5 billion deal in March to buy Knight Ridder Inc. and its 32 newspapers, including The Eagle. McClatchy becomes one of the largest news groups in the nation.

May 28, 2016: The last press run of The Eagle at its building at 825 E. Douglas. Press operations continue through its sister paper, the Kansas City Star. The news, advertising, circulation, finance and human resources staff will continue to work in Wichita. Plans begin for selling the Eagle building and finding a new location in downtown Wichita.

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