The Adirondack Enterprise was established in 1895 by Charles W. Lansing of Plattsburgh and Carl D. Smith of Malone, and soon acquired the Herald and Adirondack Pioneer, which had published from August 1892 to 1894. In 1898 Smith sold his interest to Allen Vosburgh, who sold in 1906 to Harris & Dillenbeck. Then George H. Foy of Malone published it for a time, and was followed by Kenneth W. Goldthwaite, under whose control it was enlarged and greatly improved, ranking as one of the very best newspapers in northern New York. As of 1921, Alfred L. Donaldson indicates that it was published twice a week, and was a Republican paper (the Democratic paper was The News).
John S. Ridenour purchased it from Kenneth W. Goldthwaite on May 3, 1918. In 1919, the Enterprise took over the smaller Saranac Lake News. On the morning of July 26, 1926, the old Harrietstown Town Hall burned to the ground. Everything was lost, including the only complete collection of the newspaper's issues.
Publication of the Enterprise continued uninterrupted courtesy of the Malone Evening Telegram; and, the day after the fire, ground was broken by contractor Thomas P. McCormick on a two-story, rear extension to the Fowler Block. This extension, designed by William G. Distin, Sr., was of brick and steel construction with a poured concrete foundation and built to withstand the weight and vibrations of hot-type, newspaper printing equipment.
On Monday, November 25, 1926, the Adirondack Enterprise began operation as a true daily (six issues a week) from its new offices and plant at 76 Main Street. That address would be synonymous with the word "Enterprise" for the next 47 years. Ever since the paper moved to Broadway, the Fowler Block has been known as the Old Enterprise Building.
- Donaldson, Alfred L. A History of the Adirondacks, New York: The Century Co., 1921 (reprinted by Purple Mountain Press, Fleischmanns, NY, 1992)
From the centennial edition of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 31, 1994
Duquette chronicles the history of the Enterprise
("Enterprise (en' ter-priz') 1. an undertaking; esp., a bold, hard, or important one." That of course, is according to Webster, and his definition could very well be applied to a fledgling weekly newspaper emerging in Saranac Lake from the cocoon of a short-lived predecessor in 1894.
Two years earlier, when our village was being incorporated, William Francis Mannix arrived from Malone to publish Saranac Lake's first newspaper which he aptly named The Adirondack Pioneer. Little known amongst our village forefathers he later turned out to be, perhaps, the most controversial rascal to pass though our community portals. After selling out his infant Pioneer to Carl Smith in 1894 he became the editor of the Adirondack News which featured the goings on at the local resort hotels.
A few years later he departed into a bizarre career of journalism which became intermittently studded with sensational success or embarrassing failure. He served as a reporter for such prestigious papers as the New York Times and the Philadelphia Press prior to embarking on a worldwide junket ride with fraudulent reporting, theft, and subsequent jail terms. In Havana his editorial desk assumed the shape of a barroom table where he turned out fictitious accounts of the Spanish-American War until his duplicity was exposed. He escaped by joining the army and was soon dispatched to the Philippines and then on to China for the Boxer Rebellion where he once again became involved in a monumental reporting hoax.
After finally returning to this country a trail of bouncing rubber checks brought him a cell in Sing Sing.
So much for the founder of the "Pioneer," but before leaving, it is of interest to note that the very first issue gave front page coverage to a proposal for obtaining village water from nearby McKenzie Pond. Formerly those residents who did not have a well dipped their water from the Saranac River. When Daniel W. Riddle arrived from Saranac Inn, he built his new home at the corner of South Street and Franklin Avenue (present site of the Carmelite Monastery) and he apparently didn't care to dip his water from the river. He devised a system whereby the water from Lake Flower was pumped to a storage tank atop Helen Street Hill where gravity could take over to supply a steady flow.
Local health officials soon condemned the quality of river water and the little newspaper endorsed the McKenzie Pond project which was finally adopted. William Demerse was appointed to be the superintendent of the new water system. This proved to be the very first example of how an article in our local paper could spur the residents to take action on an effort that resulted in a highly beneficial community improvement.
After Smith's editorship the next owner of the "Enterprise," so named by Smith, was Allen I. Vosburgh who published the Adirondack in Lake Placid as well as the Tupper Lake Herald. It became apparent that Vosburgh may have overextended his newspaper ventures and as a result he lost control of the Enterprise by way of a mortgage foreclosure.
Kenneth W. Goldthwaite buys newspaper
In 1906 the struggling periodical was purchased by Kenneth W. Goldthwaite for $1,500. Goldthwaite was no newcomer to the newspaper business, having started out as a paper boy at age 14 when he delivered the "Utica Saturday Globe," Later he served as a reporter on the "Utica Observer."
Upon his arrival in Saranac Lake he found the office of the Enterprise to be located in the old Town Hall sharing the premises with the Police Department, the village jail, the Odd Fellows, and the Harrietstown offices. The printing press was in the basement while the commercial office was on the main floor next to the jail. Just outside the windows the wooden foot badge; spanned the river from Main to Dorsey streets and the Empire Hotel was right next door. Between the footbridge and the Empire was a sloping alley to the river. On several occasions the Miller Hose Company, from across Main Street, had to dash down the alley to extinguish fires caused by embers from the wood-fired type melting pot located in the subbasement at the rear of the Town Hall.
Finding their new home, the Goldthwaites settled in at 100 Main St. across from the high school and to augment his income Kenneth wrote up the news of the nearby resort hotels which was formerly covered by Mannix and his "Adirondack News." In this capacity, Goldthwaite met and became a close friend of Phelps Smith, while also striking up an advisory relationship with C.M. Palmer who resided on Park Avenue.
Palmer was a nationally known newspaper tycoon and also just happened to be a director of the Adirondack National Bank. The owner of the Enterprise soon approached the bank to borrow funds needed to bring the ancient plant of the little weekly up to snuff by replacing the hand-fed Miehle printing press with an up-to-date machine. Palmer arranged approval of the loan and the Goldthwaites took in roomers to help out in meeting the note payments. The "Adirondack Enterprise" entered into its second phase with an eye to the future.
Growing in harmony with the "Little City of the Adirondacks" the paper was soon appearing twice weekly. During the early 1900s the health industry had brought an economic boost to the community which was abetted by a concurrent recognition of Saranac Lake as a winter sport center. International speed skating races, hockey and curling events all enhanced by the famous Winter Carnival attracted hosts of visitors to our village. All of this activity required a related news coverage and the combined income from increased circulation together with a greater amount of advertising by flourishing merchants helped to erase those troublesome debts which had saddled the paper in its early struggles.
The summer season, too, brought its share of prosperity to the area with the arrival of the wealthy owners of the great camps. With the famous came a demand for news of national interests. With such prominent and familiar names as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Huntington, Harriman, Morgan, Whitney, and Durant in residence, there had to be some headline material waiting in the wings. Not many small communities could boast such a pre-eminent roster of summer home owners as Saranac Lake was privileged to enjoy. The resort news from our neighbors at Paul Smiths, Loon Lake, Saranac Inn, Lake Placid, and Tupper Lake was important enough to be solicited by the big city papers and the Enterprise was called upon to supply the information. Goldthwaite shortly became the recipient of a carte blanche issued by each of the resort managers to assure that their respective establishments would appear favorably in the press.
The popular publisher of the Enterprise truly enjoyed his position in the community and was, in turn, well liked by the residents. Only the attractive lure of advancement to the staff of a major publication could coax him away and this occurred when the New York Sun, a paper he had always admired, offered the opportunity. Perhaps World War I may have influenced his decision but in any event he sold the paper to John S. Ridenour in 1918.
Many years later, in December of 1944, Goldthwaite passed away and, following his death, his son, Eaton, presented his father's books and papers to the Saranac Lake Free Library where they are presently sharing the shelves in the Adirondack Room with the Donaldson and Munson collections.
The John S. Ridenour years
John S. Ridenour was also a newspaper man prior to his coming to Saranac Lake. He had served in France with the Rainbow Division during the war and earlier had been publisher of the "Bedford Inquirer" in Bedford, Pa. After graduating from Cornell in 1908 he had been associated with papers in both New York City and Chicago. When he took over the Enterprise, it was, as mentioned; a twice-a-week publication, but after only two years; he had stepped up the editions to three times a week. With the advent of a general post-war boom, and a greater influx of veterans, who had suffered lung damage related to the Germans' use of gas, the population increase spurred the demand for news.
Many members of the TB fraternity were educated and talented people and no doubt a certain percentage would elect to stay on after regaining their health to become valuable additions to our community. Sensing such a development Ridenour was busily formulating plans to convert the Enterprise to a daily. He began to increase the staff and train them for the coming event when suddenly disaster struck.
Late on the night of July 26, 1926 the Town Hall caught fire and at 112 Park Ave. the phone began to ring. Somebody had to break the news to Ridenour that the Enterprise was going up in smoke. Someone else called Bill Kollecker who grabbed his camera and dashed to the scene in time to capture the final death throes of the venerable old structure as the clock tower fell in a fiery shower of sparks and flames. Daylight, on the following morning, revealed a sad assessment of the damages. The building was a sodden shell and the newspaper equipment was beyond hopes of salvage. Only the firm's books and circulation list were found to be intact inside the office safe. With this meager cornerstone to build on Ridenour had to tackle the formidable task in an effort to get the paper back on track in as short an interruption time as was, humanly possible.
On the very next day, following the conflagration, an issue was printed on the press of the Lake Placid News and this courtesy was quickly met by an offer from the Malone Evening Telegram which placed its printing facilities at Ridenour's disposal. A staff cadre from the Enterprise moved to Malone and from July to November not a single issue was missed.
Meanwhile a new home for the paper had been found at 72 Main St. in the building formerly occupied by the Munn Bros. grocery store. A modern Wood BeeLine rotary press was installed and the exiled staff returned from Malone to operate in the Main Street headquarters. Very soon thereafter the Adirondack Enterprise became the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and as such emerged as the first and only daily to appear in the Adirondacks at that time.
Following the 31 years of Ridenour's tutelage there were two short-term publishers who came to test the waters but for personal reasons moved to other challenges. Ridenour had held the reins from 1918 to 1949 and in that latter year Fred Kury assumed the ownership which he maintained for only two years. In 1951 the Enterprise was taken over by Dean R. Carey who, like Kury, remained in the pilot's seat for another two-year term, ending in 1953. At this point it would seem that the Adirondack Daily Enterprise was in some sort of jeopardy since two successive publishers apparently could not visualize a more permanent nor favorable outlook for the venture. Fortunately this was not to be the case.
The James Loeb and Roger Tubby era
Two politically inclined entrepreneurs came to the rescue believing that the task was not so formidable as deemed by others. In 1953 Roger Tubby and James Loeb joined forces to publish the paper, a partnership that would successfully operate the Enterprise for another 17 years. Both Tubby and Loeb moved to Saranac Lake and settled in homes, establishing a permanency while tackling the challenges with a complete faith that the small-town daily could survive. When Gen. Eisenhower was elected in 1952 Tubby and Loeb became lame duck Democrats and decided to pool their talents in a new endeavor. Tubby had been Truman's press secretary while Loeb had served as consultant to the president's counsel and also became director of Averill Harriman's presidential campaign. Neither had any experience in the hands-on business of publishing a newspaper but Tubby had a background of both reporting and editorial training which was evidenced in his role at the White House. So it was with some trepidation that the pair on June 1, 1953, acquired the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
Suddenly, after many years in the Republican camp, our local paper was in Democratic hands. In order to allay any suspicion of one-sided coverage the very first editorial stated: "Politically, we intend to support those men and policies we believe will best promote the welfare of Saranac Lake and the Adirondacks, regardless of party." What followed was a series of editorials signed simply R.W.T. for Roger Tubby or J.L. for Jim Loeb. Whether or not they abided by these principles depends entirely upon your personal leanings.
William Doolittle becomes owner
The next owner-publisher of the Enterprise appeared in 1970 when William Doolittle purchased the daily from the "White House boys." Bill had a newspaper background but, like R.W.T. and J.L., he had never been a publisher. When his current employment with a faltering publication led Bill to search for new fields, a friend, Ralph Ingersoll, 1 told him that the Enterprise was for sale. An investigative trip to Saranac Lake convinced him that with a little borrowed money he could assume the title of owner-publisher. His last visit to the Adirondacks had been 20 years earlier when he visited Lake Placid with his father in 1950, and now he found himself to be the proud owner-publisher of both the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and the Lake Placid News.
The plant at 72 Main St. was in a sad state and a big decision had to be made by Doolittle. Another successful trip to the bank settled the issue and Doolittle would make the move to a new location, complete with an offset press and new typesetting equipment Credit was expressly given to the loyal crew, a group of dedicated hard-working people who, after the move to the former A&P building at 61 Broadway, cheerfully struggled to learn all the intricate and complicated maneuvers necessary to produce a newspaper in a maze of unfamiliar machinery.
By 1989 the circulation had reached 5,000 with summer ratings of 6,000 and the smallest daily in the state had moved from last to fifth place. Catherine Moore was lauded for her supervision during this transition period. The Enterprise was developing a reputation in the field of journalism with solid reporting crews and a touch of humor furnished by the popular Bill McLaughlin column. The mid-1970s brought about another need for a fresh injection of capital and Doolittle decided to bow out.
Enterprise sold to Ogden Newspapers Inc.
In 1978 he sold the paper to The Ogden Newspapers, Inc. based in Wheeling, W.Va., but stayed on to guide the Enterprise through the upcoming 1980 Winter Olympic Games with all the hoopla and special issues related to this spectacular event.
Ten years after the sale to Ogden, Doolittle decided to step down from the publisher post at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and left the paper in the capable hands of Catherine Moore who has managed the publication to the present time. At the time Doolittle left, Managing Editor Shawn Tooley assumed responsibility for the editorial content of the newspaper, but he left that post about one year later. In October 1989, John Penney, a reporter for the Ogden-owned Wheeling News-Register, was named managing editor of the Enterprise. Moore and Penney have guided the Enterprise along smoothly and certainly have suffered no lack of controversial issues to liven the pages of the paper. Currently there is the Wal-Mart battle in North Elba, a celebrity murder case, and the everlasting squabbles between the Adirondack Park Agency and the developers.
Circulation figures hover in the 6,000 category and such innovations as coloring, to liven the black and white pages, indicate that all is being done to increase the distribution numbers. Certainly progress has taken place over the years since the Enterprise came into being and after some 100 years it remains to be the only daily paper in the Adirondacks. The afternoon arrival of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise by carrier, by auto, or by mail, is eagerly awaited by its readers. It truly fills a need in our everyday existence. That's what a newspaper is, all about.
From Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 2, 1956
Thirty Years Ago: John Ridenour on The Enterprise
Plans had already been made for the initiation of a daily news paper by the publisher of the tri-weekly, John S. Ridenour, and a staff that could function on a daily was being trained. Hence with this staff, the circulation books and a lot of faith, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise was built up to an operating business. But the fire hurled the staff Into the new daily operation two years earlier than the schedule of plans had intended.
These two years were rough, financially speaking. The first year of operation showed a deficit of better than $10,000.00 There were long years of barely squeaking through. Just before the new daily came out with its first issue a director at one of the local banks asked the late Charles Redfield, then publisher of the Malone Evening Telegram, what chance the forthcoming Adirondack Daily Enterprise would have of succeeding. This local bank director reported around town that Mr. Redfield had said in reply to his question, "Ridenour will be broke in six months." His guess, if correctly reported, was wrong.
Edward E. Robbins was the first news editor of the Daily Enterprise. He had come to the paper from the Burlington Free Press. He was a graduate of Hobart College, a Phi Beta Kappa, had played football on his college's varsity team, owned a home on Lake street, was a member of the Presbyterian church, and sent a son through the local schools. He was an accurate, objective and thorough reporter.
Mrs. Elmer Finnegan, the then Miss Harriet Mirick, was publisher's assistant on the new staff, and like all of the top brass she doubled on several jobs -- cashier, bookkeeper, and sometimes managed the carrier boys in the absence of the circulation manager, or did counter work in the absence of the classified advertising manager. She was assisted by her sister, Mrs. Emmet St. Clair, the former Miss Emily Mirick.
The late Jack Sheehe was classified advertising manager, and the late Raymond Book was display advertising manager. These were the two best men on their jobs during the 24 years of the newspaper under Ridenour management. They were lost to a down state newspaper during the depression that hit Saranac Lake several years after the 1929 stock market crash.
The roads leading into Saranac Lake were of early, and narrow, macadam, with links of unsurfaced sand roads reinforced with gravel. A trip in an early Daily Enterprise circulation car, a small Austin, through Bloomingdale, Vermontville, back through Gabriels to Paul Smiths and Keeses Mills, thence to Lake Clear, Saranac Inn and catching a few houses on the Harrietstown road on the return trip, was quite a daily jaunt. The Austin was battered to pieces within two years, and Fords and Chevrolets followed.
In those days there was only a short experimental strip of concrete at Duane on the road to Malone. There was none on the road to Elizabethtown. The road to Watertown was a macadam corkscrew, and it took six hours of fast and rough driving to reach Utica, a drive that is done with ease today in three to three and a half hours. A drive to New York was an all-day job, with little concrete until the Albany area was reached. Cecil Proctor was mechanical superintendent during the first 10 years of the daily's life, and he was assisted by Frank Buhnick. Leo McKillip, now proprietor of the Commercial Press, was head of the typesetting machines. Later on, Leonard Ryan became mechanical superintendent. Frank Keller was a pressman and stereo typer.
These men operated fine and costly precision machine tools, made by the same manufacturers that made the larger models for city newspapers, including the New York Times. Hence, after having spent ten years with the Daily Enterprise they went on to daily newspapers in larger cities, or they set up their own businesses. They were exceptionally good men, and are so recognized in their various fields today.
There were many others employed in the news, mechanical and advertising circulation staffs, and most of them were good people and are holding down responsible positions today where they are active.
The Saranac Lake merchants and businessmen, too, have been more loyal to this newspaper than a politician-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence would have you believe. When the newspaper was sold by John Ridenour after twenty-odd years of management, he inherited the outstanding accounts. Among these the local accounts amounted to about $10,000.00. Bills were sent out and about a third of this money came in promptly. Another third came in after one call. The rest dribbled in over a period of three months. Only three businessmen whose indebtedness amounted to $50.00 or more, reneged. Two of these were well able to pay; the third was written off because of his difficulties. This is a splendid record of integrity on the part of businessmen of a community as a whole, and it is doubtful if any other community of similar size and conditions could or would duplicate it. The integrity of Saranac Lake's businessmen as a whole is away up.
The Adirondack Daily Enterprise was sold seven years ago to Frederick Kury, who developed the advertising and circulation. Two years later Dean Carey bought the newspaper and its property and added to its staff, making a sounder operating organization. Mr. Cary then sold the newspaper to James Loeb, Jr., and Roger W. Tubby. Mr. Tubby is now on leave and Mr. Loeb is the acting publisher. The new publishers have gotten out a consistently informative, entertaining and thought-provoking publication. Everybody within the area of the tri-city community reads it. Mr. Ridenour, the founder and first publisher of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, is asked almost daily how he puts in his time since having retired. Prior to the time of retiring he had planned to have five hours a day in which to do the things he had always wanted to do but which he had set aside for newspaper work forty years ago. "What gave you that quaint idea?" Mrs. Ridenour asked. Since having retired he has failed to reach a time when he has even one hour a day that he can call his own, Even today, when he had planned to be in another town, Mr. Loeb stepped in front of him and thrust a job in his hands; this is it.
During the years the Adirondack Daily Enterprise has been in operation, it has employed a staff of from 16 to 20 people, and its largest expenditure has been for salaries and wages. It has taken in, roughly, $1,500,000.00, and about two-thirds of this, or approximately a million dollars has been spent in Saranac Lake. This was money that was brought in from the outside - from national advertising and from transient classified advertising and from out-of-town subscriptions.
Both the location and the equipment of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise are better than those of almost any other daily newspaper in a community of similar size within the United States. The central business district location allows the newspaper to pick up a constant dribble of small business that would be lost to a business located in a less expensive spot. The mechanical equipment was selected by engineers who had one dominant thought in mind-work simplification. It can do more work better for a longer time at less cost than any other small daily newspaper equipment to be found in a year's travel. That allows more money for wages and salaries, services and community promotion, which latter costs the publisher substantial money.
It takes more than a staff and a publisher, of course, to make a newspaper tick. The most valuable asset is the reader interest of the people of the community. These wonderful people of Saranac Lake and the Adirondacks - they have always damned the newspaper upside down, but they have always kept on reading it, and they have paid their subscriptions. Any publisher who wouldn't cherish their support, including criticism, would be out of his mind.
These are some of the more than 1200 pages on this wiki that are based on stories or photographs from the Enterprise:
1. Reader Susan Doolittle comments that the friend was his former step-father