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  • Writer's pictureMike Conway

1990: Kansas Loses its Final Newspaper Printed on Manual Letterpress: Longtime Publisher Retires

Thirty years ago, I spent part of the day with Helmi Moody, the publisher of the Almena Plaindealer newspaper in Norton County in Northwest Kansas, not far from the Nebraska state line. She had worked on the paper for forty years and was ready to retire and sell the business.

The Almena Plaindealer had the distinction of being the last newspaper in Kansas printed on a manual rotary letterpress printing press, with the letters and words created using hot lead and a linotype machine.

Robert and Helmi Moody came to Almena from Czechoslovakia in 1950 and bought the paper. They ran it together until Bob died and Helmi carried on by herself for the final ten years, with help from friends and family.

When I did this story in October 1990, Helmi was still hoping to find a buyer so she wouldn't have to shut down the paper. I made sure I visited on a day when she was printing the Almena Plaindealer so I could see the letterpress in action.

Helmi didn't find a buyer for the Almena Plaindealer, so the paper shut down at the end of 1990. By the turn of the century, it had been reborn as a volunteer-run newspaper, The Prairie Dog Press, based out of the same building in downtown Almena.

Helmi Moody passed away in 2016.

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