In the year 1889 the frontier was exploding. Grand designs and ingenious schemes were popping up left and right. The good people of Port Townsend, Washington, were enjoying a prosperity to be envied as the little frontier town boomed with shipping and commerce. And things were only going to get better because, that’s right, the railroad was coming.
But something happened. Plans changed and suddenly it seemed that the City of Dreams was going to be cut out of “The Big Picture” as the railroad’s progress stalled on the far side of Puget Sound. With typical pluck, the collective creative genius – both scientific and artistic – of the good people of that fair hamlet collaborated to discover a solution. If they weren’t going to get rails, then they’d find another way. Long weeks of debate followed and when they came out they had not only a plan, not just a new principle, – no they had a Grand Design. From the dark rooms of the Waterfront Saloon they emerged with the schematics for the most sophisticated, efficient, and durable airship ever conceived. Construction began immediately
What happened thereafter is the subject of much debate. A crew of adventurers, artists and scientists set off. The prototype seemingly vanished into a clear June morning sky. The mission was initially considered a catastrophe, with mournings and wakes scheduled through the month, until a tiny, self-propelled unmanned airship drifted into town with a note attached, “All’s well. Send Svornich Brand Whiskey.” Perplexed, a second ship was constructed and set off with several casks and another crew of hardy adventurers, similarly vanishing. A number of privately funded efforts followed, encouraged by the occasional curious missive or personal correspondence – but no one ever returned.