Only Accessible by Foot or Bike via the Monte Cristo Trailhead

Mountain Loop Highway

Status: Former Mining Boom Town; Former Tourist Attraction; Ghost Town


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By Kirk - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">Washington State Localities Photographs</a>, Public Domain, Link


In the late 19th century, a belt of mineral deposits – including gold and silver – was found in the area and a boom quickly began. In 1889 it was discovered that belt went through the area where Monte Cristo would eventually be built.

By 1891 a mining camp had been established with 13 operational mines based on 40 claims – by 1893 there were 211 claims. Money from the East began to pour into the area – mostly from John Rockefeller himself – to build the infrastructure needed to mine the minerals out.

By 1894 – at the height of the boom – it was hoped Monte Cristo would prove to be the biggest lead-silver deposit in the western hemisphere. A railway was built to the town and over 230 tons of ore were being mined daily. The town’s population reached just over 1,000.

1895 and 1896 also proved to be prosperous years but floods in 96 destroyed swaths of the rail road and much of the infrastructure. Replacing everything the floods had destroyed cut deeply into the profits. 1897 brought more floods and issues with the mining equipment that effectively ended the boom.

By 1900 most of the miners had left for the newer more prosperous mines in the Yukon Territory, British Columbia and Alaska. In 1907 all mining operations had ceased; despite huge surface deposits it was discovered mining any deeper than 500 feet was a waste of time and effort. The huge deposits hoped for were just mineral deposits on the surface.

What was left of the town limped on for decades as a tourist destination but it was only accessible during the summer due to the harsh climate and continual flooding. In 1983 the last business in town – a hotel – burnt down and all efforts to keep the town accessible were abandoned.

The road is now only useable by hikers and mountain bikers and most of structures have collapsed but Monte Cristo is the only ghost town in Washington State so it still draws visitors. There are also 4 abandoned mines in the area that haven’t collapsed yet.


Paranormal Activity

Even today mining is far from a safe activity. In the 19th century – with no government interference or safety laws – it was almost downright suicidal.

Visitors say the former townsite is quiet during the day with barely a hint of the ghosts said to still linger in the area. At night is a different story, though.

Misty apparitions of miners and other mine employees are seen although they do not seem to be aware of the living; disembodied voices echo in the dark woods; perhaps the most chilling reported activity is gurgling sound that is said to be miners who drown in the floods eternally fighting for their last breaths; light anomalies; electrical disturbances and feelings of being watched.