It’s been 92 years since The Virginia Mountaineer published the first edition of what was billed then — and is still billed now — as “Buchanan County’s Family Newspaper.”
What started out as a small four-page weekly newspaper to keep Buchanan County residents aware of the local goings on of the community has grown into a publication that has chronicled the ups, the downs and the in-betweens of Buchanan County and her residents.
The Mountaineer began publication on May 22, 1922 when Hannibal A. Compton combined forces with Cecil C. Waldron to establish the newspaper. Since that time, only six editors, beginning with Hannibal Compton, have served the Mountaineer. Today, Editor and Publisher Sam Bartley serves in the role, taking up the mantle from Lodge Compton, son of founding editor Hannibal Compton, who led the publication from 1972 until his death in 2013.
The Mountaineer had two forerunners in Buchanan County — The Sandy Valley News, which was still in existence at the time the paper started, and The Messenger, which published before the turn of the century and went out of publication around the year 1900. The Sandy Valley News quit publishing in the late 1920s.
When the Mountaineer first started in 1922, the offices were on the upstairs floor of the old bank building on Main Street, which later was the home of Grundy Drug Co. for many years. It later moved to the Waldron building, near the Slate Creek bridge. At that time, it was where the old Morgan Theatre building is now located. The newspaper’s third home was on the lower Main in the vicinity of Thomas Furniture. The newspaper remained there until 1957 after the flood of that year, at which time the office was relocated to East Main Street. Today, the paper makes its home at the Grundy Plaza, not far from downtown.
In the early days, the newspaper was a four-page broadsheet and featured predominantly legal notices, some limited news and personal information, as well as obituaries. By the late 1940s, the paper’s content expanded to warrant eight pages of news, notices, family announcements and other items.
Today, the paper publishes multiple sections every week, culminating with an annual 90-plus page Buchanan Neighbors progress edition that spotlights Buchanan County’s business, industry, development and community outreach.
Since its inception, the Mountaineer has operated a commercial printing department in addition to publishing the newspaper.
In 92 years, the Mountaineer has seen a lot of change… It’s been a part of Buchanan County through the golden years of logging, the birth of the coal industry, the coming of the railroad, the Great Depression, World War II, conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf, man’s first walk on the moon and the coming of the digital age.
The paper has had the privilege of reporting the everyday events in Buchanan County and the lives of its residents — the births, marriages and deaths of her citizens — and the way the world and its many changes in 92 years have touched their lives.