Washington State Cities: Aberdeen, WA

Aberdeen, WA is a quiet, quaint little sea town, with a long and interesting history. Nestled on the coast at Grays Harbor County, it was founded in 1884. Today it is known as the Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula, but once upon a time it earned a less endearing nickname.

At the dawn of the 20th century, Aberdeen was known as one of the roughest cities on the West Coast. Fisherman, hardened from years of fighting the unforgiving Pacific Ocean, called this place home and left their indelible mark on the landscape.

Parade in Aberdeen, WA

Parade in Aberdeen, WA. Reproduced under a Creative Commons license with the kind permission of Hugo90 on Flickr

Because of its unusually high murder rate at the time, Aberdeen earned the nickname, "The Port of Missing Men."

At least some of those missing men likely had their fate sealed by Billy Gohl, the most infamous Aberdeen resident, although he was only convicted of murdering two men, rumor had the number closer to 150.

Aberdeen, WA is situated between the cities of Hoquiam and Cosmopolis and is the economic center of Grays Harbor.

It was named for a local fishing cannery, which was itself named for Aberdeen, Scotland.

At one time it hoped to be the end point for the western route of the Northern Pacific Railroad, but lost that race to nearby Cosmopolis.

Most residents of Aberdeen made their living fishing salmon or cutting wood. They worked the ships or the sawmills, sending their goods back east and up and down the Pacific coast. Unfortunately for Aberdeen, by the late 1970s most of the readily available timber was gone, and the sawmills started closing down. This was also the end of the world-famous salmon runs, as the rivers filled with silt.

Aberdeen, WA Today

Today, Aberdeen is probably most famous for being the hometown of rock star Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, and his band mate Krist Novoselic. There is a memorial there honoring Cobain, who allegedly committed suicide at the height of his fame in the mid-1990s.

Music fans from around the world regularly make pilgrimages there to pay their respects to Cobain, who is widely considered the Father of Grunge. Aberdeen, WA is also the home of Duke Erickson and Kurdt Vanderhoof of the heavy metal band Metal Church. Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers is also from Aberdeen.

For those more interested in maritime history, Aberdeen is the home port of the tall ship, Lady Washington. The Lady Washington is a replica of a smaller ship which was used by explorer Captain Robert Gray. It was also featured in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film, "Curse of the Black Pearl". You can schedule a touring cruise aboard the Lady Washington, and spend an evening touring the river and cruising the high seas much as they did 100 years ago.

Parade in Aberdeen, WA

Parade in Aberdeen, WA. Reproduced under a Creative Commons license with the kind permission of Hugo90 on Flickr

Aberdeen, WA is also home to some of the nation's finest seafood restaurants.

If you are in the mood for fresh seafood there is little doubt you will find a more delicious dinner waiting for you anywhere else!

You can also find a wealth of extreme sports in Aberdeen, including scuba and kayaking, plus a fabulous and expansive skateboard park to turn your wheels.

If nature is more your thing, just a few minutes from Olympic National Park, you can head out to the forest for miles of hiking in hopes of catching a glimpse of the elusive Sasquatch!

NOTE: Information correct at time of publication. Always check with your chosen destination before you travel.

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