Territorial Enterprise, Twain's old newspaper, revived again

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The Territorial Enterprise, whose reporters during its halcyon days included Mark Twain, is being revived - again. And in the Twain tradition, the new publishers promise to expose lies, rumor and innuendo - even if they have to stretch the facts a bit in the process.

Lloyd Pendergraft of Reno and Nick Nicosia of Carson City successfully negotiated for the rights to the historic paper's name, and hope to have a weekly news magazine on the streets - and on the Internet - by April.

In filing corporation papers with the secretary of state's office, Pendergraft said the paper's focus in 2000 will mirror its earlier incarnations by mixing current affairs with satire and sarcasm.

''It'll be partly tongue-in-cheek, partly factual reporting, and will have ongoing contributions from authorities on Mark Twain and his literary world,'' added Nicosia. ''It's really exciting.''

The Enterprise hasn't been in print for about 15 years. Pendergraft and Nicosia worked out a deal with Tom Muzzio of Portland, Ore., who got the rights to the Enterprise name about 15 years ago from the winner of a complicated legal battle involving several rival entrepreneurs who all wanted to publish the paper.

Muzzio will have a role in the paper through a foundation he set up to preserve Twain's writings and the history of the West.

The paper began publication in 1858 in Genoa, which claims to be Nevada's first settlement. It moved to Carson City in 1859 and to Virginia City a year later, gaining fame during the Comstock Lode mining boom.

Its writers in the early 1860s included a young Samuel Clemens, who had come West with his brother, Orion, and tried his hand at mining before getting a $25-a-week job at the paper. That's where he first used the pen name Mark Twain.

Twain moved on, and the Enterprise rolled with the ups and downs of the Comstock's silver and gold fortunes. After the 1870s, it was mostly down, and the original Enterprise ceased publication in 1893.

But the paper was so well known that its name kept getting revived. The first was just a year later, and that version hung on until 1916.

A third Enterprise turned up in 1946 but lasted only a few months. The best known and most widely circulated of the revived TEs was put out between 1952 and 1960 by flamboyant columnist and Western historian Lucius Beebe and partner Charles Clegg.

Over the years, hoaxes and sarcasm have been mainstays - and netted some of the publishers the same suggestion that Twain got for such writing: get out of town.

The new publishers won't even move into Virginia City. The Enterprise's office will return to Carson City after a 141-year absence. ''That's the home it was originally to have but never did until now,'' Pendergraft says.

He and Nicosia hope to start with a circulation area that'll take in the Comstock Lode area of northern Nevada along with the Mother Lode area in the Sierra just west of here. Eventually, they hope to reach Las Vegas with the print version. Web-surfers anywhere in the world can read the online version.

The website for the paper is www.territorialenterprise.com. A second website with a historical, literary and educational focus is at www.territorial-enterprise.com. Both sites are under development.

End ADV for Jan. 29-30


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