For over 50 years the Cedar River Watershed was a bustling place where people worked and lived. During the late 1800’s people flocked to the area to harvest the rich resources of the land. Logging, mining, the transcontinental railroad and municipal construction projects lured laborers with high pay that offered a one-way ticket to a more prosperous future. Amidst the hustle and bustle, company towns sprang up to house workers. Generally the land and homes were owned by the company, while workers occupied them during employment; however, sometimes employees owned their own homes. Most company towns boomed and busted, some more than once, between the 1890’s and the 1950’s. The last industrial town in the watershed was shuttered in 1947, but the municipal town continued to be inhabited for many years after that.
Company towns were relatively self-contained, usually consisting of boarding houses for young bachelors, homes for families, a school or two, and numerous amenities including grocery stores, hotels, dance halls, saloons, and sports areas like tennis courts and baseball fields. Close-knit communities developed in these often isolated locations. Some of the company towns had adjacent areas housing Japanese workers who contributed significantly to the labor force.
Although there were up to a dozen distinct, organized company communities, there were only four established towns within the Cedar River Watershed boundaries. Visit the Cedar River Watershed Education Center or register for a tour to learn more about these remarkable places!