In 1792, American explorer,
Robert Gray, discovered a protected bay that would become
Harbor. Aberdeen is located at the east point of Grays Harbor.
In 1868, Samuel Benn, who was
from New York City, established his
homestead at the confluence of the Chehalis River and Wishkah River,
virtually at the point where the Chehalis flows in to Grays
Harbor. Mr. Benn made plans to establish a city in this
Salmon flourished in these
waters. In 1873, Mr. Benn provided
a site for a salmon cannery to George W. Hume. The area
developed and in 1883, Mr. Benn platted the town. Mr. Hume’s
successor, The Aberdeen Packing Company, was given the privilege of
naming this town. They gave it the name of Aberdeen. The
company and town were named after Aberdeen, Scotland, which also sits
at the confluence of rivers and the sea. The name, Aberdeen,
literally means “confluence of two rivers”, likely referring to the Don
river that flows in to the sea at Aberdeen, Scotland. Aberdeen,
Scotland, was also known as an exporter of salmon.
With a logging industry being
established in the area, A.J. West built
the town’s first sawmill in 1884. Soon after, John Weatherwax
and the Wilson family established their own sawmills. Other
sawmills would follow.
The town of Aberdeen was
incorporated in 1890. When the
Northern Pacific Railroad came to the area, it bypassed the town of
Aberdeen. Citizens of Aberdeen and the neighboring town of
Hoquiam banded together to build a spur line to connect with the
railroad’s main line. This was financed by Mr. Benn and other
businessmen in the area.
By the 1900’s, Aberdeen had a
reputation of being "the roughest town
west of the Mississippi" due to many saloons, brothels and gambling
establishments crowding the area.
During the Great Depression, the
number of sawmills dwindled from 37 to
9. The timber industry flourished, but most of the timber in the area was
logged by the late 1970’s. Most of the mills closed down
after that time. Salmon runs also dwindled over the
years. The local economy had its ups and downs over the years.
A young man by the name of Kurt
Cobain grew up in Aberdeen during those
troubling economic times of the 1970’s and would leave Aberdeen to
become a rock legend along with his band, Nirvana.