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.