Grays Harbor County's largest city is located at the mouth of the
Wishkah and Chehalis Rivers. Aberdeen is home to Grays
Harbor Community Hospital,
Grays Harbor College, two shopping malls, a central business and
retail district, a State Prison and many parks.
Aberdeen's Infamous History
In the early 1880s,
settlers referred to the area as
"Wishkah" but soon renamed it after a salmon cannery named after
Aberdeen, Scotland which is also located at the mouth of two rivers.
Aberdeen was founded by Samuel Benn when he had a plat filed in 1884.
Aberdeen was smaller than Hoquiam or Cosmopolis and the last to build
a sawmill until A.J. West built one in 1884. Aberdeen and surrounding
towns competed to be the Northern Pacific Railroad terminal, but when
both lost out to Ocosta the citizens of Hoquiam and Aberdeen united
to build and connect linetracks from the Northern Pacific to Aberdeen,
which were completed in 1895. Four years later they were extended to
was incorporated on May 12, 1890 with a population of 1,638.
By the turn of the 20th
century, Aberdeen was known for its "houses of ill repute," saloons
and gambling. It was reputedly one of the most crime ridden cities
on the West Coast. Billy Gohl, convicted of two murders was suspected
of being a serial killer of over at least 140 men. Because of the
high murder rate, sailors referred to the area as "The Hellhole
of the Pacific," or "The Port of Missing Men."
A large fire in downtown
Aberdeen on October 16, 1903, claimed four lives and 140 buildings.
Immigrants especially from
Scandanavia and Europe settled in Grays Harbor. By 1930 the population
All but nine of Aberdeen's
37 mills folded during the great depression and mill owners hired
predominantly Filipino and Jewish immigrants. During World War 2
Aberdeen rallied again, until the big trees were gone. In 1959, law
enforcement closed down the houses of prostitution.
Between 1970s and 80's, most of the mills closed down, fishing
runs dwindled and by 1982 a recession doubled the unemployment rate.
When the Spotted Owl
became an Endangered Species list, many forests
had to be closed to logging.
Aberdeen, Hoquiam, and Cosmopolis "Cosi" are
home to almost half of the harbor residents and most of the county's
business and retail community. Aberdeen has two high schools with
over 200 students; J. M. Weatherwax High School was built in 1909,
and Harbor High School, an alternative high school. Aberdeen's J.
M. Weatherwax High School and Hoquiam High School have the longest
high school sports rivalry west of the Mississippi River. Thousands
attended the 100th football game on September 17, 2005.
Other schools include Miller Junior High, Central
Park Elementary, McDermoth Elementary, Stevens Elementary, AJ West
Elementary, Robert Gray Elementary, and St. Mary's Catholic School.
In 2002, the historic Weatherwax High School was consumed with fire
due to an act of arson middle of the night by two students .
Since that time classes have been in the remaining buildings, and an
old church until the new school opens in September
In 2006 a Cosmopolis sawmill
and pulp mill shut down, resulting in the loss of 342 jobs.
Aberdeen is the homeport
to the tall ship Lady Washington, a reproduction of a smaller
vessel used by explorer Captain Robert Gray. The tall ship was featured
in two Pirates of the Caribbean movies, The Curse of the Black Pearl
(2003) and Dead Man's Chest (2006).
shopping and business district's historic buildings reflects remnants
of the past and the hardships Aberdeen has endured since. Locally
owned retail stores and restaurants are being squeezed out by franchises.
Aberdeen's central district is a mixture of historic renovated structures,
dilapidated abandoned buildings and modern franchises. Intriguing
colorful murals have turned eyesores into a work of art.
Unique and whimsical sidewalk art sculptures are found throughout
the the heart of downtown. Our homeless live in the streets of the
business district. For such a small city, Aberdeen has a large homeless
population as a result of high unemployment, low wages and a lack
of affordable housing and health care. In 2000, 22.2% of Aberdeen's
population lived below the poverty line, of those, 29.7% were under
the age of 18 and 9.6% were over 65.
Aberdeen has the highest
rate of crime in Washington state, and is the
primary distributor of methamphetamines in the Pacific Northwest.
A new biodiesel plant will
create some new jobs but nearly enough.
College in south Aberdeen recently completed the Jewell
C Manspeaker building to replace old classrooms.
Aberdeen has the honor
of being the "Birthplace
of Grunge" and
the home of the late Kurt
Cobain and Krist
Novoselic, Nirvana founders.
Parks & Rec 537-3248
Basich Trailway: 1.5 miles
of paved trail from Cushing Street in South Aberdeen to Cosi Lions
Park. This trail meanders through Pioneer Park along Mill Creek.
Park at Lions Park in Cosmopolis or Pioneer Park, off Tilden, in
South Aberdeen. Wheel
Chehalis River Trailway:
1.65 miles of paved trail from
Mill Street through South Aberdeen
along the Chehalis River, ending at Westport
Highway 105. Park at the Mill Creek Pump Station. To begin your walk
cross the Chehalis River Bridge entering South
Aberdeen, go right on Marion Street and right
to Mill Street). Wheel
Morrison Riverfront Walkway:
1.8 miles of paved trail
from Guesthouse Inn & Suites to Lakeside Industries.
Park at Guesthouse Inn & Suites, Wal-Mart, Gateway
Plaza or Morrison Park. Wheel
Stewart Park Trail: .8 mile
of rugged trail up and down hills and
across bridges. Follow "B" Street
north toward Wishkah Road, turn
left onto Valley Road to the parking area.
Swano Lake Trails on the
Grays Harbor College campus: 2 miles
of dirt trails, hills, bridges around Swano
Lake. Interpretive signs Park near the maintenance building in the
lower parking lot and follow signs to
the trail head. The trail does get muddy.
Trail: Miles of rugged terrain off Bel Aire.
A sign at the trail head is on Sherwood Lane.
City of Aberdeen