Thursday, December 27, 2018

Oscar Roy Morgan (1879-1958): Newspaper Publisher; Coined Reno's Slogan

Oscar Morgan

Plot 40, Lot 51
Oscar Morgan was born in Cherokee, California and moved to the mining town of Bodie, California with his parents shortly after his birth. His father, who had served as sheriff, town constable and school trustee, died suddenly when Oscar was just nineteen.

After his brother Alfred, bought the Hayward Review newspaper, he moved there and finished high school. After graduation, he entered the University of California at Berkeley.

When Alfred died suddenly in 1899, Oscar and his brother, Stanley, took over the Hayward Review and published it until they sold it in 1905. Oscar purchased the Reno Evening Gazette in 1904, and moved to Reno, Nevada.

The Gazette developed it into one of the state's leading publications and Morgan built the Gazette Building. He was a vocal opponent of gambling in Nevada, which remained illegal until 1931. He also covered the development of Reno into a "marriage and divorce" mecca.

Gateway to Reno on Virginia Street
Oscar Morgan is best remembered for creating Reno's city slogan, "Reno, the Biggest Little City in the World." Morgan recounted that he was a judge at The Commercial Club to pick a slogan for the then sleepy town of 5,000. He claims he coined the slogan after he decided that he didn't like any of the entries into the contest.

In 1912, he sold the Reno Evening Gazette due to ill health and moved to Oakland. He purchased the Modesto News that same year, which he eventually sold to the McClatchy Newspapers. While in Oakland, he wrote numerous articles for the Sunday Knave section of the Oakland Tribune, many of which dealt with Nevada history. During the 1940's, he was on Radio KSFO as the Country Editor.

Sources: Oakland Tribune, Find a Grave, San Mateo Times

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