Nirvana mileage sign at home in Aberdeen

There are not a whole lot of reminders of one of the most important and influential bands in rock ’n’ roll history hanging around Aberdeen. There’s graffiti under a bridge, a mural, a small park, a house and a sign at the entry point of town that indicate Nirvana was founded in Aberdeen by the late Kurt Cobain.

But the band doesn’t have its own museum or anything like that in town — wouldn’t that be cool? So it was with great delight to see another piece of the band’s history make its way to Aberdeen last week after years of effort to bring it home.

That piece of history comes in the form of a mileage sign, previously located on Highway 8, made famous in an iconic photograph. The mileage sign informed motorists that it was 6 miles to Elma, 16 miles to Montesano and 26 miles to Aberdeen.

As for Cobain, he once stood on bass player Krist Novoselic’s hands and stretched his right arm over the 1 next to Montesano and the 2 next to Aberdeen to make the mileage sign display “666.” Fans have replicated that pose countless times in the years since.

The plan to bring the sign home was the dream of Wil Russoul, executive director of Downtown Aberdeen Association, who worked since October 2018 to acquire the Washington Department of Transportation mileage sign that was located outside McCleary.

His successful plight was documented by The Daily World staff writer Matthew N. Wells in the Jan. 15 edition of the newspaper. Russoul was stoked about the achievement.

“The fans of Nirvana won,” said Russoul with a big enthusiastic grin as he stood with his arms outstretched in front of the sign on Thursday, Jan. 13.

His plan calls for the mileage sign to be temporarily housed in an undisclosed locked garage, while Russoul and his team deal with the ins and outs of getting the sign properly displayed.

The preferred location for the sign is a city lot next to the Tesla Supercharger station and against ColorTyme Rent-To-Own on East Wishkah Street. That would make it easily accessible to people because the location is on the other side of Wishkah River Bridge as they enter downtown Aberdeen.

“It’s a free area that’s easy to find for anyone coming into town,” said Russoul. “And then we start to build out the amenities. How people gauge downtown and how they learn about Nirvana from right there.”

But one large hurdle remains. The Washington Department of Transportation is concerned that the sign could potentially direct traffic or confuse motorists as they enter town. So those concerns need to be addressed.

“Whether we put up trees, tilt (the sign) a certain way,” said Russoul. “Put something so when people come into town, they’re not like ‘What, we’re not in Aberdeen?’ We still have 26 miles to go?”

We’re certain that Russoul will find a way to alleviate the department’s concerns and give visitors and residents of this old fishing and logging town a chance to enjoy more of its rock ’n’ roll history. Because while the birthplace of grunge music may still be up for debate for some folks — Nirvana will always be straight out of Aberdeen.