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Upcycle the R-G Printing Press

March 12th, 2021 by dk

Nobody in Eugene wanted to see Hayward Field go, but that day came in 2018. Construction crews cleared the way for a new structure that is destined to become the most photographed icon of Eugene. Remnants of the old structure were salvaged and strategically distributed across town. That way, everyone can be reminded of something that was loved until it left.

I hope the owners of The Register-Guard follow a similar plan for their newly idled pressroom on Chad Drive.

Beginning this week, production of our region’s daily newspaper has been relocated to Vancouver, Washington. I’m not among those who lament the move. I owned a weekly newspaper here for more than a decade. We printed at The Springfield News until a commercial printer in Albany made us a better deal. Here’s hoping the consolidated production savings can fund another reporter’s salary.

What will become of the actual machinery that whirled and hummed every night for decades? It can’t be mothballed for three reasons. First, have you priced mothballs recently? Imagine five stories of Chuck E. Cheese balls that smell like your grandmother. Second, it’s not worth preserving. The future of newspapers won’t look like its past. Third, that Mitsubishi Lithopia offset press has been a headache to maintain almost since it was installed.

Shortly after the Bakers bought that gleaming press for $14 million in 1994, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce slapped an antidumping duty on a related company. Mitsubishi parts became difficult to source, so our press operators have had to fabricate or jury rig parts for the last 20 years. 

So now, here we are. What can the remnants of that press be jury rigged into for a public that loved what it spit out every night? We’re adept at upcycling in Eugene. We know how to get one more life out of items that would otherwise be discarded. Just ask anyone at BRING or MECCA or St. Vinnie’s. It’s what we do here.

Hayward bleachers are being cut into wooden medals to be given to runners who finish this year’s Eugene Marathon. Brian Obie will make benches out of Hayward’s exit steps and place them near the Nike Store. More than a dozen other organizations have been granted Hayward remnants, including KIDSPORTS and the Eugene Airport.

Surely there are dozens or hundreds of Register-Guard readers or alumni who would find a new use for some part of the newspaper’s pressroom. Could newsprint spindles be made into restaurant tables? Ink barrels might be refashioned into bollards or planters. Conveyor lines might live again inside the airport’s next luggage carousel.

Once we get rolling, this creative community can get more fanciful with reuse strategies. Individual rollers can become stainless steel rolling pins. Portions of the towering structure can be incorporated into the rebirth of EWEB’s steam plant. Leftover plastic bundle strapping will be perfect for a Capitol insurrectionist Halloween costume.

I, for one, would love to have the switch or button to be used whenever somebody hollered “Stop the presses!” — now that they have.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at He owned the Comic News 1995 – 2005.

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