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The Potlatch Lumber Company constructed the Washington, Idaho, and Montana Railroad in this area in a shrewd move to speed up log transfer times from the forests to the Potlatch mill. The town of Princeton lay along these tracks and was founded in 1896 by Orville Clough, a prominent lumberman and donor of the town’s school site. Despite popular belief that the town honors the famous American university, Clough actually named the town in honor of his hometown of Princeton, Minnesota. Despite the realtiy behind its title, Princeton became one of eight stops along the line bearing a college name. This tradition began when an engineer named the nearby town of Purdue in recognition of his alma mater. Thereafter, several university students who spent their summers working for the railroad chimed in and started naming new settlements after their own universities.

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