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Around 1890, somewhere in rural Minnesota, 13-year-old Albert Powers was fed up with his father and stepmother.

Had he been more content with his lot, the city of Powers might never have come to be.

Albert's grandson, Al Powers, recently visited Minnesota to do some research on his grandfather's early years. On Oct. 14, he'll give a presentation in Myrtle Point, hosted by the Coquille Valley Genealogy Club, that will explore the youth of the talented man who played a vital role in the founding of Powers.

Young entrepreneur

Young Albert took off for the city lights of Hibbings, where he got a job driving teams pulling sleds for a logging outfit.

In Minnesota, trees were felled and bucked in the winter, loaded onto sleds and hauled by teams of horses to a frozen river, where they were dumped on the ice.

When the ice broke up in the spring, the logs floated downstream -- in some cases, all the way to the Mississippi River, where sawmills captured them.

Albert prospered, building up his own logging company complete with its own railroad. Timber baron Charles Axel Smith recognized Albert's enterprise and invited him to go to Oregon, form the Smith-Powers Logging Co., and log Smith's newly acquired Coos County timberlands to feed Smith's new sawmills.

Albert arrived in 1907, started the operation, and started a ranch in southern Coos County to raise cattle to feed the loggers who lived in the company's camps.

He was well liked, and when the company decided to build a town on the ranch site, the residents voted to name it Powers.

Ties to area

Albert's grandson, Al Powers, never met Albert Powers. Al grew up in Marshfield and Powers, went to college, served in the Navy, and then pursued an engineering career. He started a marine construction company in the Seattle area, where he still lives. But he remains a hands-on owner of his 99-year-old family ranch near Powers.

'I've been commuting for 50 years," Al said. Now 82, he flies his own plane down from his home in Seattle to visit the ranch, although he's handed over much of the management to a nephew in Eugene.

The Coquille Valley Genealogy Club invited Al to share what he's learned about his grandfather. He'll also bring some photos that aren't in local collections.

The club periodically invites members of families with a long history in the area to talk about their experiences, videotaping the presentations for posterity.

To learn more about the club, call Linda Kirk at 541-572-2182.

Reporter Gail Elber can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 234, or at gelber@theworldlink.com.

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