Before California joined the United States, Spanish-language newspapers existed in most major cities across the state, but they eventually all went away as the English-speaking population outnumbered the native Spanish speakers.
In California’s first decade as a state, the 1850s, there was a boom in new English-language newspapers, some of which are still in operation today.
The Folsom Telegraph
The Folsom Telegraph first started operations in 1856 out of office space on Sutter Street in Folsom, California. Today, the newspaper is published weekly on Thursdays.
The offices of the Telegraph changed over time, but they are still located on Sutter Street in the historic neighborhood of Old Folsom.
While the newspaper does investigative stories, its staff is more dedicated to reporting on local businesses, events and entertainment.
The Mountain Messenger
The Mountain Messenger is based out of the remote town of Downieville, California, and it is the newspaper that has been published on a weekly basis for the longest period of time. Starting in 1853, the paper was originally published twice a month.
According to the Mountain Messenger, Mark Twain wrote for the paper for a time using his real name, Samuel Clemens, when he was hiding out from authorities in Nevada.
It was only in recent years that the newspaper launched a website, and it is put together by a team of two people.
The Mercury News
The Mercury News, based in San Jose, was first issued in 1851, although it operated under a different name and it was actually born from the merger of two other newspapers. It was originally published as the San Jose Weekly Visitor and has had several name changes over the decades since its founding.
Of the oldest newspapers still in operation, The Mercury News is the largest, with more than 300,000 readers of its daily edition, according to the newspaper’s publisher.
The Placerville Mountain Democrat
The oldest newspaper continuously published in California is based in the foothills between Sacramento and the Sierra Nevada.
The Placerville Mountain Democrat started publishing in June of 1851 and has used the same name since 1854. For the last 172 years, the Democrat has been reporting on El Dorado County and the surrounding foothill and mountain communities.