Final Rochester Press Run (copy)

Post Bulletin press operators listen to the press spool down as it finishes it's last press run of the Post Bulletin on May 30th. Printing operations moved to Red Wing after the sale of the paper to Forum Communications. (Joe Ahlquist/jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

I suppose this may be a tender question, but what will (has?) become of the PB’s massive old printing press? Does it still have a future, or has technology made it obsolete even if it could still run? -- Doug

Put this in your scrapbook: The PB's press is destined for the scrap heap, "unless someone has a better idea," said Merl Groteboer, the real estate maven representing the still-unnamed buyer of the PB's former property in downtown Rochester.

No word from Merl on the timetable, but there has been evident activity to clear out the building in recent weeks, and workers were seen recently draining the ink lines to the press, so maybe it will be soon.

Technology hasn't rendered the press obsolete -- check out Jeff Pieters' report from last March for some great details about the press on the occasion of its 30th birthday -- but reader preference has. More people are reading their news online than ever before, and while the PB's print circulation has been holding steady, the national trend for print has been down, down, down.

"There is so much equipment going offline (that) there is a glut of good used equipment ... and there isn't a lot of value," said Jeff Lansing, the PB's longtime press manager. He's not involved with decisions about what to do with the press, or even consulting with the new owners about what to do with it, but he does have quite a bit of knowledge about markets and trends, so I checked in with him.

"There are a ton of presses sitting out there, and they are going to be scrapped, probably," Lansing said. "I'm 99.9 percent sure that they will have to make a decision about how to get that press out of there."

Installed in 1989, the press was set in place in separate 14-ton pieces using a gantry system that's built into the press room structure.

It'll be a cruder job getting it out. Probably, it'll be removed by cutting it apart and lifting it out piecemeal. That's a big job, considering the equipment is 75 feet long, 26 feet tall, and heavier than your worst of worst days.

"It's a shame," Lansing said. "That press was a great press."

Technology will never make me obsolete. Send questions to answerman@postbulletin.com.

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