This former town was originally known as both Bridgeport and Brownsville. In the 1860s, William Jackson established a Clearwater River stage station and toll bridge, subsequently naming his tiny settlement Bridgeport. A fire decimated the area during the 1877 Nez Perce War, and Jackson left the area disheartened.

Loyal Brown became the next landowner, eventually selling eighy of his acres to the Clearwater Mining Company in 1893. In Brown’s honor, the company mapped out a townsite named Brownsville. When postal services were acquired in 1895, the name changed to Harpster. The name memorializes the life of gold rush era pioneer, Abraham Harpster, who died in the area in 1891.

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