It all started with the sighting of a great, propeller-driven airship over Sacramento in 1896. Soon after, towns from Texas to Canada reported seeing similar craft. These sightings continued into 1897. Marble, Washington was no exception. Mill workers reportedly saw an airship flying toward the northeast on May 5th, 1897. A local paper reported that, "It was in full view, and the fans could easily be recognized."
Similar newspaper accounts were invariably upbeat and congenial. It seemed to be generally accepted that clever individuals had built such machines, even though the golden age of zeppelins was still some years away.