Washington January 11, 2018
This City In Washington Was One Of The Most Dangerous Places In The Nation In The Early 1900s
Most Washingtonians know Aberdeen as the hometown of Kurt Cobain. The Kurt Cobain Memorial Park is a major draw, and a sign welcomes people to town with the famous phrase “Come as you are.”
But at the turn of the last century, Aberdeen was known for other things: Gambling, prostitution, and murder. In fact, it was so dangerous that it was nicknamed “The hellhole of the Pacific” around the year 1900.
Aberdeen was founded by Samuel Benn in 1884 and incorporated in 1890. It was named after a local salmon cannery to reflect its Scottish fishing port heritage.
But by 1900, Aberdeen was full of saloons, brothels, and gambling establishments.
Most of the people in town were sawmill workers or sailors who were just passing through.
But while many of the early logging towns had similar forms of unsavory entertainment, Aberdeen had something they didn't: An incredibly high murder rate.
Many sailors and loggers would disappear after a night of drinking, only to have their bodies (sometimes) turn up.
In 1910, a grisly discovery was made: the majority of the murders and disappearances could be traced back to one man, Billy Gohl.
Billy was a bartender who would befriend the drunken sailors only to rob them, shoot them, and dump their bodies in the Wishkah River. He was convicted of two counts of murder, but he is thought to have killed up to 140 people. Today, Aberdeen's Billy's Bar and Grill pays homage to Gohl, who is said to haunt the establishment himself.
While it's not without its issues, these days Aberdeen is a quiet community of 16,000 and is known more for being the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula than for its gruesome past.
Aberdeen and the rest of Grays Harbor do remain dependent on the fishing and timber industries, most of the mills closed down in the 70s and 80s.
While Washington is certainly not without its crime, these stories make our current
list of most dangerous places seem tame.