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At the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers, a village of a few new brick and many old frame buildings, surrounded by lawn-bordered houses scattered among the sagebrush, is an oasis in this desert country. Originally, it was a junction point for navigation on the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers. The first attempt to build here was in 1892, but the depression of 1893 delayed development. In 1896 a steamboat company, which had been mooring across the river at Fort Columbia and was desirous of establishing a new landing, purchased the present site of Brewster from one John Bruster, whose name has been altered in naming the town.

It has the reputation of being an oasis in a semi-arid region. In 1892, Charles Ballard platted the town of Swansea but it did not develop. In 1898, when the post office was established, the present name was chosen. It is a misspelling of the name of the original homesteader of the site, John Bruster, who filed his claim in 1896.