Ezra Meeker - In 1850, Congress passed the Donation Land Act, granting 320 acres of free land to a single man and 640 acres to a married one.† Droves of pioneers headed west. Among them were Ezra and Jane Meeker, who traveled from Iowa and staked the first claim on the present site of Kalama on
January 20, 1853.
Land-claim settlers lived a rugged existence, forced to navigate by canoe
and raft to get supplies from established
communities along the waterways. They needed a better way to get provisions. New homesteaders from the east needed a
faster and safer way to come west.† But it was not just to bring goods and
people that the railroad dream took off.† Industrialists could read about and see for
themselves the dense wealth of the Pacific
Northwest forests.† They dreamed of
timber.† At the site of present day Kalama, the Northern Pacific Railway Company
surveyed a place to begin laying rails that
would connect Puget Sound to the transcontinental line stretching west from Minnesota.†
The plan was to bring the railroad through Portland and north up the western shore of the Columbia, then haul train
cars on a steam powered ferry across the
river and continue north to Puget Sound.
In 1873, Northern Pacific moved itís headquarters to Tacoma
when the track was completed between Kalama and
Tacoma.† Then in 1879 a fire swept
through the town, dropping the population of
Kalama dramatically from a high of over 3,500 earlier in the decade to less than 100 people.
Kalamaís fortune changed with the arrival of the Imus brothers.† Hite Imus founded the Kalama Bulletin newspaper in 1889.† Using the Bulletin, Imus was a relentless promoter of Kalama, recruiting family and friends from Kansas
to repopulate the town.† Hite Imus was an attorney who served as
mayor, county clerk and prosecuting
attorney.† He was also among the first
three port commissioners of the Port of
Teddy Roosevelt during a whistle stop campaign, Kalama 1903
Imus Brothers - Del, Hite, Al and Les
Ezra Meeker was first European settler in Kalama in 1853.