Hill valley telegraph building

Hill Valley Telegraph's building in 1885.

Back to the future II - Hill Valley Telegraph logo

Hill Valley Telegraph logo.

Back to the future - Hill Valley Telegraph logo ''Brown mansion destroyed''

Hill Valley Telegraph logo in the 1960s.

The Hill Valley Telegraph was the primary newspaper of Hill Valley for many decades. It was founded in 1871.[1]

The building itself could be seen in 1885, and judging by the building's shape in 1885, by 1955 it was likely torn down and replaced with Gaynor's Hideaway.

Normal timeline[]


June 14, 1931 issue mentioning the death of "Carl Sagan".

Back to the future I - Hill Valley Telegraph - Eisenhower vetoes senate bill

November 5, 1955 newspaper.

In 1885, issues cost two cents, and were numbered "Vol. 17", indicating that the newspaper was founded 17 years earlier, in 1868 (three years after the town was founded). One editor of the paper was shot by Buford Tannen in 1884 after an unfavorable story about him was published. For this reason, the succeeding editors, including M.R. Gale, whose name was prominently painted on the window of the newspaper office in 1885, would not keep accurate records of Buford's actions thereafter. In 1885, the Telegraph's offices were located on Hill Street, approximately where Gaynor's Hideaway would be located in 1955 and 1985.

Sometime after September 7, 1885, an article detailed the death of "Clint Eastwood" after his plunge into Shonash Ravine.[1]

Marty McFly picked the November 5, 1955 issue out of a trash can in Courthouse Square after a passer-by dropped it in, and was surprised to read the date at the top of the paper. The full-page ad on the back of the paper, and visible only for a moment, is an advertisement by Statler Studebaker about "The Car of the Future", the 1955 Studebaker. The front page is only briefly visible, with a mention of a city council meeting, and the main headline "Eisenhower Vetoes Senate Bill". 

As Marty went through Edna Strickland's collection of every issue ever printed, he came across issues from 1931, with the titles "Ground Broken on Site of Former Speakeasy", "Singer Vanishes", "Hill Valley Expo Delights Crowd", "Soup Kitchen Exposed", and "Speakeasy Arsonist Slain". The issue dated June 14, 1931 contained the article involving the slain arsonist and read: "Legal procedure gave way to old-fashioned vengeance last night, when a mob descended on the Hill Valley Police Station. The arson suspect, a drifter known as Carl Sagan, was pulled from his..." The other side of the paper simply stated "Carl Sagan Killed" with an image of the victim.[1] After several changes to 1931, the article discusses Carl Sagan's escape from prison.[2]

Dr. Emmett Brown gave an interview on the subject of time travel to the editor of the Hill Valley Telegraph at some point after coming up with the idea of the flux capacitor on November 5, 1955. Although the article was published, it was either ignored by Hill Valley residents or complaints were received by the newspaper about valuable space being wasted by printing a madman's ravings.[3]


November 6, 1955.

The November 6, 1955 issue reported that Otis Peabody was sent to the County Asylum after claiming a "space zombie" had crashed into his barn. (early version of script)

Sometime after November 8 (1955), an issue details Biff and his gang's collision into a manure truck.[1]

A copy of the November 14, 1955, front page, with the headline CLOCK TOWER STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, is reproduced by the Hill Valley Historical Preservation Society for its Clock Tower flyers. The paper cost 10¢ in 1955.

The August 2, 1962 issue had a front page headline "Brown Mansion Destroyed" the day after Emmett Brown's house burned down.

The March 16, 1973 issue reported that George McFly was honored with the Hill Valley Civic Committee's Golden Citation, for his tireless work in promoting civic activities. (Most notably the Hill Valley Library project.)

On May 23, 1983, the Telegraph headlines reported that Emmett Brown had been given a civic award and that President Reagan had announced that he was seeking re-election, with no Republican challengers expected.

In September 1984, Doc purchased a DeLorean DMC-12 and a non-working pinball machine advertised in the August 11 classifieds by Robert and John respectively.

On October 28, 1985, an article stated that authorities are unclear on the Lone Pine Mall shooting.[1]

On May 15, 1986, the front page showed Doc receiving the key to the city of Hill Valley.[4]

By 2015, the print version of the Telegraph was defunct and had been replaced with a city-specific version of USA Today — or HILL VALLEY EDITION, to quote the yellow flash in the top right-hand corner of the front page.

Despite no longer being in print, the Hill Valley Telegraph continued to be published digitally over the internet. On June 13, 2032, an article viewed on a tablet computer shows that Griff Tannen has been arrested for illegally selling endangered animals.[5]

Alternate timeline[]

During the evening of June 13, 1931, Marty discovered that Doc is no longer in his jail cell with tomorrow's newspaper changing from "Carl Sagan Killed" to "Paddywagon Intercepted. Suspect Slain".[1] After saving Doc, the headline changes to "Local Accountant Beaten. Left For Dead." as Marty's grandfather was killed by Kid Tannen's gang.[6]

On March 28, 1958, the Telegraph reported that 21-year-old Biff Tannen won a million dollars betting on horse races, and had a photograph of Biff with Grays Sports Almanac sticking out of his pocket. The October 14, 1959 issue showed him winning at another sports event. In later years, the Telegraph headlines would proclaim him the "Luckiest Man on Earth", and report on his founding of BiffCo


The March 16, 1973 issue in 1985A.

The March 16, 1973 issue reported that George McFly was murdered while on his way to an award dinner in his honor by the Hill Valley Civic Committee. The article stated that he was found dead by police at 9:35pm two blocks from the Hill Valley Community Center, and that police believed robbery to be the motive. The article further stated that McFly had been a long-time activist against BiffCo's policies.

The Telegraph headlines announced sometime in 1979 that gambling had been legalized.


The May 23, 1983 issue in 1985A.

On May 23, 1983 (or July 1983 (novelization)), the Telegraph headlines reported that Emmett Brown had been declared insane and committed to Mental Ward B; a sidebar story reported that President Nixon would seek a fifth term.

As Marty was confronted by the changes in the alternate 1985, he searched for a way to find out what year it was, and picked up the October 26, 1985 issue of the Telegraph from a front porch. However, he didn't realize it was the house of former Hill Valley High School principal Mr. Strickland, who accused him of being the "son of a bitch" who kept stealing his newspapers. The main headline of this paper was "Reagan Goes for Surgery", with a large photo of Ronald Reagan (implying that he had possibly ran against and defeated Nixon in the alternate 1984 Presidential Election).

Meanwhile, Doc broke into the closed and boarded-up Hill Valley Public Library, searched through the Hill Valley Telegraph archives and took some bound collections of the newspaper, which he later showed to Marty, back to his now trashed lab.

Before the restoration of the timeline, the May 14, 1986 paper went through several revisions:

On June 13, 2032, during the timeline in which a nuclear holocaust happened in 2045, an article on the digital edition of the Telegraph shows that Griff Tannen founded GriffTech and started a social network called ThingMeme.

Behind the scenes[]

  • All of the Hill Valley Telegraph newspapers seen in the trilogy were props created by the Earl Hays Press for the prop department, and the text underneath the headlines generally alternated between the same six blocks of words. As can be seen in images, the lead paragraph says, "The facts regarding the situation remain the same, state the authorities. Details concerning the action have been given a preliminary investigation, but it is felt that only by a more detailed study will the true facts become known." For the "Emmett Brown Committed" newspaper, there were two versions. The one that Doc finds in the wreckage of his home includes a paragraph describing that he was committed to the Hill Valley Hospital, while the one that changes (when the timeline is fixed) begins with "The facts regarding..."
  • "The Hill Valley Telegraph" was the name of the fanzine published by the official Back to the Future fan club established by Stephen Clark in the 1990s. The zine contained interviews, production info, and more. The fan club and the zine were eventually wound down as its functions were taken up by the official website of the fan club, also established by Stephen Clark, which was eventually reestablished as the official Back to the Future site at BTTF.com.