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The city is hidden from view by a jutting hill crowned with trees. It was named for Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander, one of Cowlitz County’s first settlers, who took his donation land claim here in 1852. This village, set in the midst of a few farms, is but a gray shadow of the busy little settlement of the late 1890s and the early 1900s, when the Ostrander Timber Company rivaled other Washington logging operators in manufacturing the longest squares and spars produced in the world; some single specimens of these required three flat cars for transportation.

Forty miles of railway were extended into the forest; but when the company had logged off all the land at its disposal, it dismantled the mill and transported it to another site, leaving the town to dream of its days of past prosperity.

Ostrander Creek, which runs through the town, has been the scene of recurrent excitement over gold since the pioneer period. The reported finding of a rich piece of gold quartz by one of the early settlers, whose identity is not recorded, fostered the belief that a large deposit lay somewhere in the vicinity. Thereafter the community was periodically stirred by reports that gold had been found along the creek, rumors that gained credence when, on one occasion, a housewife discovered two gold nuggets in the craw of a chicken she was preparing for dinner. No fortunes, however, have been founded on the gold of this area.