On Saturday September 21 MCPA volunteers in 4×4 vehicles were convoyed in to Monte Cristo by the hazmat cleanup project head Tim Otis and his wife. We had the opportunity to view progress on the new three mile access road being constructed for the cleanup plus spend time readying the town area for winter and forthcoming public exclusion. While the first and last portions of the new route utilize previous road grades, the middle section is entirely new. As it adds additional hills, rises, and dips with little appreciable elevation gain, it would not surprise us to see reduced numbers of hikers and cyclists using the now 10 mile round trip when it is done.
To date little improvement has been accomplished on the two miles of existing county road from Hap’s Hill onward. Minor widening and removal of a small stump were done where river erosion has dug out a hole in the grade and exposed rails from the old Everett & Monte Cristo/Hartford Eastern Railway. Focus has been to construct the first of three bridges which will be required for the new middle section. When that is done sometime in early October work will be suspended until next season and the area closed to public access.
The 16 adults and two boys made excellent use of their time in town before the convoy headed back down the South Fork Sauk River valley. All MCPA interpretive signs were brought in, photographed, inventoried, and stored. Drainage bars were rebuilt to protect Dumas Street and other public paths. Major brushing was done from the end of the road through the old parking lot/railway yards and turntable (which still works). Broken windows from recent vandalism to a Forest Service cabin were boarded up. Blown down logs blocking Glacier Street were removed.
Our thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for allowing this opportunity, and thanks too to those who came out on such short notice to see the new route and take a probable last look at historic locations before they are affected by next year’s removal of hazardous wastes.