William (Virginia Bill) Covington who, after a disappointing venture in the Fraser River gold fields, had drifted into Okanogan County in the 1860s, opened a trading post near the north end of present day Brewster bridge. Covington claimed to come from a "first Family of Virginia" though his alleged liquor traffic with the Indians, which was illegal, seemed less than true.
Covington's Virginia City attracted the usual businesses, restaurant, saloon, livery stable, blacksmith shop, and eventually a hotel from materials torn from the unused Swansea Hotel and two abandoned saloons at Conconully.
A half mile north of Virginia City a better ferry landing and safer tie up for a floating steamboat wharf were located on John Bruster's homestead. There, yet another town was platted. Thirty-two head of horses pulled Gamble's Hotel to the new site. This new site became known as Brewster.
The original name for this site was Rich Bar, which was attained in 1862 when a gold discovery was made nearby. The report is that there were as many as five hundred miners working the gravel along the river in the fifteen mile span between present day Pateros and Bridgeport. But it was only a flurry and the name Rich Bar was snuffed out with the rapid exit of the miners.
As settlers began to enter the Okanogan country in numbers, there grew a need for navigation up the Columbia River. The confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers was the limit to which steamers could go on the big river.
About a mile above Virginia City a man named John Bruster homesteaded a piece of land where there was an unusually smooth flat area on a cove where the water was deep enough to anchor a sternwheeler. Bruster sold this portion of his land to the manager of the steamboat company. On it was platted Bruster's town on April 10, 1896.
Gradually all that was Virginia City moved to Bruster, even all of the store buildings except the post office. The Post Office Department would not accept the name Bruster so the name Brewster was submitted and accepted.