The Oak Ridger was established in 1949 by Alfred and Julia Hill. It published its first edition on January 20 of that year. The first publisher was Don J. McKay. The paper was owned for many years by the Hill family. Dick Smyser was its long-time editor. The Hill family sold the paper to Stauffer Communications in 1987. Stauffer sold it to Morris Communications in 1995. In 2007, Morris sold The Oak Ridger to GateHouse along with 13 other American newspapers.