The Kaweah Commonwealth has been the weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, since 1995. No newspaper has served the community longer. The husband-and-wife team of John and Sarah Elliott are the publishers/editors. It is the only independently owned newspaper and the only newspaper serving an unincorporated community in Tulare County and, quite possibly, the entire San Joaquin Valley and southern Sierra Nevada foothills. Published every Friday, the Commonwealth's coverage area includes Three Rivers (the gateway town of Sequoia National Park), the communities of Lemon Cove and Woodlake, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
For 120 years, newspapers in Three Rivers have come and gone sporadically as many have attempted the difficult task of meeting an ongoing weekly deadline while earning a living in a small community. John and Sarah recognized the potential and necessity of a weekly newspaper in Three Rivers and combined their talents to begin publication on March 1, 1995.
The present newspaper's namesake comes from the Kaweah Co-Operative Colony, a socialist utopian experiment in Three Rivers from 1886 to 1892. During the existence of the Kaweah Colony, the colonists published the first newspaper ever in the Three Rivers area, the weekly Kaweah Commonwealth, from which the current local newspaper (and website) derived its name. Published from 1890 to 1892, the paper was used as a propaganda tool for the socialist society, but each of the 96 issues also offered a first-hand glimpse of colony life, from business to recreation to births, marriages, and deaths. The weekly paper was printed on the first steam-operated press in Tulare County, given to the Kaweah Colony by Dr. M.A. Hunter in exchange for membership.
Newspapers are an endangered species, especially in rural communities. As a means of conveying news in a timely way, paper and ink may someday be altogether obsolete, eclipsed by the power, efficiency, and technological ease of the Internet. There are several important reasons why this business works in this day and age when people no longer have to buy newspapers. (1) As the Commonwealth's motto explains, "We'll tell you things you won't read, hear, or see anywhere else." This is because quality hyperlocal news is not available on websites, blogs, social media, or even 24-hour cable news shows. (2) The two owners perform the majority of the writing, editing, layout and design, advertising sales, as well as the myriad other tasks involved with owning a small business, thus maintaining vigilant quality control. (3) John is a writer and historian who now devotes his career to documenting the people, places, and events of Kaweah Country. (4) Sarah is an editor, writer, and fifth-generation Three Rivers resident, who was raised in the community, so is knowledgeable about the region -- from the San Joaquin Valley to the highest Sierra peaks – about which she writes.
The Kaweah Commonwealth and its owners are passionate about sharing the wonders of what they collectively refer to as Kaweah Country. To that end, the Commonwealth's website features more than the news and events of the week. It is a comprehensive guide for visitors and potential new residents, consisting of dining and lodging options, hiking, history, weather forecasts, road conditions, property rentals, relocation and travel information, and so much more. Almost on a daily basis, we freely provide area information to walk-in customers or those who contact us via phone, email, the website, and through Facebook and Twitter.