Aberdeen is located at the confluence of the Chehalis and Wishkah rivers at the head of Grays Harbor, at the southern end of the Olympic Peninsula. For thousands of years the Lower Chehalis have lived around Grays Harbor and in the river valleys that feed into the bay. Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) men traveling to Fort Nisqually on Puget Sound passed through Grays Harbor on their way to the Chehalis River at its head. In the shadow of Puget Sound and Columbia River ports, Grays Harbor remained fairly isolated for several decades.
In February 1855 Stevens met with the Quinault, Queets, Lower Chehalis, Upper Chehalis, Shoalwater Bay, Chinook, and Cowlitz tribes at the Chehalis River Treaty Council (at the site of Cosmopolis today). Thousands upon thousands of wooded acres surrounded Grays Harbor. City Building
In January 1862, Reuben Redman (1820-1917) came to Grays Harbor and settled on land south of the mouth of the Chehalis River. A decade later, in 1884, Benn had his land surveyed and filed a plat for the a town named Aberdeen. Several town histories cite the owners of the Aberdeen Packing Company as the source of the new town’s name. Lumber Mills
In 1886 the first cargo of lumber was shipped out of Aberdeen. By 1889 Aberdeen had four mills (Charles, Fred, and Henry Wilson had opened a mill in 1887) producing nearly 30 million board feet of lumber. About 1890 Edward Hulbert came to Aberdeen and built the Union Shingle Mill on the south side of the Chehalis River, an area that came to be known as South Aberdeen. Weatherwax put his mill’s sawdust to work filling the low-lying streets of town. Turn-of-the-Century Aberdeen
Saloons and brothels flourished in turn-of-the-century Aberdeen.
More Fish and More Logs
Lumber shipments and fisheries continued to be the lifeblood of Aberdeen and the surrounding communities. Between July 1906 and July 1907, 324 sailing ships and 284 steam ships left Aberdeen loaded down with 342,062,651 board feet. Likewise, more lumber shipping out of town required an increase in longshoremen to load the ships and railroad cars. Business owners avoided hiring union workers by forming open shop companies, such as the Grays Harbor Stevedoring Company, and by bringing in outside workers.
Beginning in 1911, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) worked to organize loggers and sawmill workers in Grays Harbor in order to improve pay and working conditions.
Aberdeen experienced months of upheaval. Aberdeen's Busy Shipyards
Two shipyards in Aberdeen, Grays Harbor Motorship Corporation and Grant Smith-Porter, built ships for the Emergency Fleet Corporation. On October 5, 1918, workers at the Grays Harbor Motorship yard set a record for fastest ship construction. Aberdeen Today
Aberdeen continues to function as the financial hub of the Grays Harbor region. In 2007 Imperium Renewables opened a biodiesel plant in Hoquiam just west of Aberdeen. Grays Harbor Ocean Energy is in the preliminary stages of developing offshore wave energy generation platforms.