Featured on the National Register of Historic Places, there is plenty of exciting history packed into the small Marshfield Sun Printing Museum in Coos Bay, Oregon. Once home to the Marshfield Sun newspaper and print shop, the space and equipment is virtually as it was left when the owner died in 1944; additional exhibits about printing and the area have been added. If you’re interested in the history of print and a glimpse of our community in the first half of the last century, it’s a can’t-miss stop during your next stay at The Mill Casino • Hotel & RV Park. Learn more about the Marshfield Sun Printing museum and other Coos Bay museums before planning your next trip.
History of the Marshfield Sun
When the Marshfield Sun newspaper printed its first edition in 1891, the shop was housed down the street from its final location. In 1911, the newspaper and print shop moved to 1049 Front St, where visitors can learn about their legacy today. Founder Jesse Allen Luse edited and published the paper from its origin until his death in 1944. Throughout his time running the Marshfield Sun, Luse printed each edition by hand, making him one of the last printers in the state to utilize the centuries-old handset method. Today, this spirit is honored by showcasing the tools he used to produce the newspaper for more than 50 years.
What’s on Display
Since the Marshfield Sun ceased printing in 1944 after Luse’s death, not much has changed inside the building. Exhibits were added in the upper level and on the walls, but when you step inside the front door, you’ll feel as if you’re taking a journey back in time. Given Luse’s dedication to printing the paper by hand after many had moved to automatic machinery, there are some rare pieces of equipment on display at the museum, such as:
- Washington Hand Press: This iron printing press was a popular design in the early 20th Iron presses gained popularity because they were durable and easier to clean than the traditional wood presses at the time. They also featured a system of levers and counterweights that made pulling the lever that brought the platen onto the type require much less force to use. Designed to be taken apart, moved, and put back together, this style and make was used to print the news throughout the frontier American West.
- Chandler & Price Job Press: Platen jobbers from Chandler & Price are extremely rare, with only 100,000 estimated to have been built. They have gained reverence among collectors today because of the quality put into crafting each press, which was rare in an era when the printing press business was competitive, and many companies were putting out cheap models.
In addition to these rare machines, visitors can find equipment like a proof press, industrial paper cutter, and a boiler-plate casting machine. There is also the whole range of hand-typesetting equipment, including dozens of trays of the metal type that the actual individual letters were printed off. All the historic equipment at the museum still works and is occasionally used by the museum’s skilled volunteers for special print jobs.
Finally, the museum contains an edition of almost every paper that Luse printed over his 53-year career as the owner/publisher of the Marshfield Sun. This excursion back into history is assisted by the helpful museum volunteers, who conduct tours and can provide interesting facts about the printing press industry and this living piece of local history.
A Unique Slice of History
Whether you’re interested in the history of print technology, the development of small-town journalism, or the people and businesses that shaped Coos Bay, you’ll want to spend some time at the Marshfield Sun Printing Museum when you stay at The Mill Casino • Hotel & RV Park. To learn more about Coos Bay museums and other attractions, call 541-756-8800. We’ll help you book a room and discover plenty of things to do on-site and in the beautiful surrounding area.