Ear: Astorian

From The Daily Morning AstorianWednesday, Sept. 26, 1888:

First Officer Chambers, of the wrecked Derby Park, was among the passengers on the Geo. W. Elder yesterday, on his way to Portland. … He says that the island of Penryhn, where the vessel was wrecked, is an atoll, a circular coral reef. There are 500 natives and one white man …

Note: The Sydney Morning Herald, on Monday, Sept. 10, 1888 (bit.ly/derbypark), reported that while off Penrhyn Island on July 23, natives approached the ship Silverdale in boats to convey that a ship had wrecked on the lee side of the island July 19 or 20. From the description, it sounded like the Derby Park.

Everyone made it to shore, except the captain's wife, who drowned on the way, and the survivors were picked up by a French schooner bound for Tahiti. Of note: The Derby Park, built in 1887, was owned by Peter Iredale & Son of Liverpool. It was only in service for one year.

From Friday, Sept. 26, 1890:

Geo. W. Traver, a prominent Tacoma (Washington) capitalist, has been in the city for a few days past, and has made arrangements to invest largely in Frankfort property.

Note: Settlement in Frankfort, across the river from Astoria, began in 1876, but it wasn't until 1890 — when Frank Bourn and Frank Scott platted the place with 1,226 lots — that a big fish like Traver showed up to invest.

Even though Frankfort was only accessible by water, the selling hook was that a railroad was supposed to go through the town. The two Franks sold lots, built a hotel, store, saloon, post office and sawmill … and sold more lots. The duo then started a newspaper, the Frankfort Chronicle, and sold even more lots.

The financial Panic of 1893 stopped the boom, the railroad never showed up, and the slide to oblivion began. The post office closed in 1918, and Frankfort was a logging town until the 1940s. By the time it was sold to a logging company in 1953, there was hardly anyone left. Traver probably lost his shirt on this one. (bit.ly/frankf1, bit.ly/frankf2)

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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