Monte Cristo Closure In Effect for 2015

Public access to Monte Cristo and its hiking trails for 2015 ended on April 15 and will last until further notice. This is due to the court ordered U.S. Forest Service’s hazardous materials cleanup.

The public still will be allowed to park at Barlow Pass and hike the mile into Twin Bridges and the Gothic Basin trailhead. The closure boundary follows the east bank of the South Fork Sauk River and includes all campgrounds and other trails in the area. Thus there is no access to either Glacier Basin or Silver Lake trails. Closure Map

Work this season is planned to include excavation of a repository hole for the wastes, minor county road improvements beyond Hap’s Hill (m.p. 2), and removal of mining-related materials from sites in and near the town, along with mines along 76 and Glacier creeks, which form the headwaters of the South Fork Sauk River. Temporary bridging of Glacier Creek next to the United Companies’ concentrator site will be in place until the end of August, when it must be removed to protect endangered fish species.

Some of the affected sites to be cleaned are the concentrator, its ground tramway to the bunkers of the Comet/Golden Cord, Rainy, Mystery, and Pride of the Mountains mines, the assay building in the town across from the school site, and tailings piles from the Rainy, Pride of the Woods, and Sidney mines above the town. For details see the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website and the USFS related documents.

During this season M.C.P.A. will be working to assist the Forest Service on other area projects, planning for new interpretation in and around the townsite in conjunction with the Forest Service, and preparing to restore our previous signs, materials, and programs, including that of the volunteer townsite hosts.

Our annual dues of $24 for the coming June 2015-May 2016 year may be paid at any time to P.O. Box 471, Everett, WA 98206. Keys previously issued to the county gate at Barlow Pass will be valid also for this season, allowing driving as far as the clay slide, approximately half a mile in.

Our regular work parties will be the third Saturday of the month, while a special picnic event also may happen. Watch this space for updates and details!

Again: There is no legal public access beyond Twin Bridges, but the Gothic Basin trail will be open, as it stays west of the river.

2015 Annual Meeting and Potluck – June 6 at Verlot

Our Annual meeting will be at its usual location, behind the Verlot Service Center, June 6, at noon. Please being a side dish or a dessert for a potluck lunch, to be shared with everyone at noon, prior to the meeting. The MCPA will provide hot dogs and drinks. Both the potluck and the meeting will take place upstairs in the Forest Service building. If the weather cooperates, everything can be outside. (The main room where we usually have our potluck is off limits this year, but the kitchen should still be accessible.)

Please see our website to familiarize yourselves with the new changes to the cleanup. This will be discussed at our meeting. Also, if any property owners have received any letters from the DOE, we recommend not responding. This will also be discussed at the meeting.

Our work parties this year will be the third Saturday of each month; June 20, July 18, August 15, September 19, October 17. We ask all members to include their own lunch for work parties since we will not be providing the usual BBQ as we did in the past. We may have some work parties off site at other camp grounds but this will be discussed at the Annual meeting.

Happy 100th Anniversary Hartford Eastern Railway

Today, June 1, 2015, marks 100 years since the Rucker Brothers lease began on the prior Northern Pacific railroad running from just outside Snohomish to Monte Cristo.

The railway was originally built by Rockerfeller in the 1890’s and named the Everett and Monte Cristo Railway. By 1910, the Northern Pacific took over operation of the line. However, due to poor performing mines and high maintenance costs, the NP chose to lease the line to the Ruckers in 1915. The Ruckers main concern was accessing 1000’s of acres of timber they owned in the area, and they also catered to the mountain tourists. Minimal freight was also hauled to and from the Silverton and Monte Cristo townsites.

The Ruckers also built and serviced the Big 4 Inn at the base of Big 4 Mountain until it burned in the early 1940’s.

The Hartford Eastern operated from 1915 to 1936. Due to the poor condition of the tracks at the time, only light weight gas cars (“speeders” or “galloping gooses”) used the line. These cars were essentially road buses fitted with flanged wheels. The Hartford Eastern also lacked sufficient snow removal equipment and hence the line was mostly closed between Silverton and Monte Cristo throughout the winter snows.