Place of publication: Monterey, VA
In contrast to the Alexandria Gazette — a small paper with influence beyond its immediate environment — many Virginia newspapers served mainly single, isolated communities. The Highland Recorder, for example, was published weekly in Monterey, seat of Highland County — a remote and heavily forested region of 416 square miles on the Virginia-West Virginia border, where there were few gaps, passes, or watercourses to cut through the Allegheny Mountains to provide access to the outside world. Founded in 1877, The Recorder was first an independent publication, turned Republican from 1887 to 1891, then remained independent thereafter.
Well into the 1900s The Recorder offered its readers a wide variety of material, serving as the primary source for news and more in Bath and Highland counties. For example, page one traditionally included a poem, a short story, and a sampling of national and international news mixed with several anecdotes. Page two offered an editorial comment and additional news. Page three was devoted to the concerns of a local economy based primarily on general farming, sheep-raising, and the production of maple sugar. Page four featured the weekly sermon and usually included a large number of advertisements.
The relative isolation of Bath and Highland counties magnified the paper's significance. Within either county, there were few, if any, alternatives to The Recorder. The same pattern can be seen in other areas of southwestern Virginia, as well as in the state's far western reaches, including West Virginia before separate statehood. In this region, the number of newspaper titles was far out of proportion to the population served. Yet, cut off by the severe features of the landscape, many of these scattered mountain communities, however small, ventured to support their own paper.
Today, The Recorder remains the newspaper of record for Bath and Highland counties— the only weekly newspaper for two counties. It is the oldest, continuously published newspaper in Virginia, and has had only 10 publishers over its lifetime. Volumes from August 2007 to present can be found online at www.TheRecorderOnline.com.