If you’ve ever strolled through Old Town State Historic Park, it’s likely you’ve ventured into the San Diego Union Museum. The small building, a wooden structure built in Maine and shipped (literally) over 15,000 miles around Cape Horn in 1851, became the office of the San Diego Union newspaper.
The San Diego Union was first published in 1868. It began as a modest four page weekly, and was produced on a Washington press, a simple but functional wrought iron framed hand press invented by Samuel Rust in 1821. The Washington press was the last style of hand press made in the United States, and some of these now antique devices were manufactured well into the 20th century.
In the museum one can see an authentic 1860’s recreation of the editor’s room, and the original printing press. One can see exactly how tedious typesetting was for the production of early newspapers, and how far we’ve come technologically in just 150 years.
If you want to see (and touch) a bit of printing history, swing by beautiful Old Town and check out the San Diego Union Museum daily from 10-5. Admission is free.