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 www.mcpa.us 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.



Closure Set for April 15, 2015

U.S. Forest Service On-Site Co-ordinator Joe Gibbens has confirmed that public access to the townsite of Monte Cristo will end on April 15, although there still remains some paperwork to be completed before that date is finalized. There is no tentative date for reopening, as it depends upon the rate of progress in removal of hazardous mining-related waste and the onset of autumn weather conditions. If you plan on hiking in to see the area before then, please help us remind others also to be good stewards and do no harm. We will post updates as more information becomes available.

Many USFS documents regarding the cleanup activity can be found here: USFS CERCLA Cleanup Projects

March 2015 Update

Mild Winter Brings Continued Access But Also Vandalism Problems

A very warm winter with virtually no lower elevation snow thus far has allowed hikers to continue visiting Monte Cristo. There are no blocking problems along the county road in from Barlow Pass at last report.

These conditions unfortunately also have led to frustrating vandalism from people not expecting to be caught in the act. A cabin had its door smashed open, others have been entered, and trash has been spread by partying groups and uncaring individuals. If you visit the area, please report any such activity to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office by calling 911. All of this damage will have be repaired and cleaned up by property owners and our MCPA volunteers. Please bring along a garbage sack and help us pack out what others leave

Hazmat Cleanup Will Begin Shortly

Project head Joe Gibbens of the U.S. Forest Service advised us that logging of the repository site for hazardous waste materials should being after April 15, weather conditions permitting. Logs will be hauled out on the new access road, decked at its junction with the Mt. Loop Highway, and offered for sale. That done, excavation of the hole can begin. When this occurs, the area will be closed to the public probably until late this coming fall. This will depend upon progress and again the weather. Plans currently are for the Weden Creek Trail to Gothic Basin to remain open, with the closure boundary to be the South Fork Sauk River. That essentially means from Twin Bridges to Monte Cristo, all camp grounds, and the trails to Poodle Dog Pass/Silver Lake/Twin Lakes, and the trail to Glacier Basin. Details should be announced on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website under the Monte Cristo cleanup.

Initial work will focus on the spots near and in the townsite, as the temporary bridge to be constructed across Glacier Creek near the United Companies’ concentrator is required by fisheries regulations to be removed by the end of August. The contracting crew will be staying at the entrance to the town and working seven days a week.

As we have seen, plans change on short notice, so keep checking for updates.

Meanwhile, if you hike in to Monte, be aware that all of our interpretive signs have been removed for storage and will not be returned to place until we are allowed back in, now tentatively 2016.

Annual Meeting and Potluck Scheduled for Noon Saturday June 6

Please mark your calendar and plan on joining us at the Verlot Public Service Center on that date as we are brought up to date on progress in the cleanup and make our own plans for the summer and fall. Ideas have been suggested for a summer picnic, service projects for the Forest Service (we have built and maintained trails for them for example) and a brain storming session on how we are going to deal with and interpret Monte Cristo once the cleanup closure ends. Your thoughts, insights, and ideas are welcome and encouraged! We do know that we face significant work in restoring signage, brushing, and maintenance after three winters and two summers of exclusion. Many questions remain. Bring yours along.

Join MCPA or send in your renewal!

Our fiscal year runs from June 1 to May 31 (starting the usual date when snow conditions allow travel). Annual dues are $24.00 and will keep you in good standing through May 31, 2016. If you wish a key to the gate at Barlow Pass and do not already have one, add an additional $18.00 to cover the cost of making it. Anyone who drives on the county road also must sign a notarized waiver of liability, which you can download. Parking inside the gate gives added protection from trailhead break-ins, which are a periodic problem.

Make your check payable to MCPA and send it to P.O. Box 471, Everett, WA 98206. Allow ten days for turn around time.

MCPA is an IRS registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, and all donations, gifts, and bequests are tax deductible.

Trip Report – Townsite & Silver Lake – February 28, 2015

The following trip report is provided by and available on the Washington Trails Association website. Thanks to “Chuck” for the excellent report and beautiful pictures.

WTA Trip Report – Townsite & Silver Lake – February 28, 2015

We parked across the street from the Barlow pass parking lot and walked about 100 feet to the Monte Cristo road. The log crossing next to the old bridge was a breeze, its a BIG log! The trail was easy enough all the way to the old town ( thanks guy with the really spicy beef jerky and cheese from Oregon ) then the hiking began. All was good until we hit the snow, the trail was covered but we kept on through about 8 inches of snow for about 1 mile, difficult but do able without poles or yaktrax. Only saw 4 other hikers on the trail to the lake, we were the first ones up there on Saturday obviously. So quiet up there I know why they call it silver lake now. My pedometer read just shy of 11 miles round trip.

Trail to Silver Lake

Trail to Silver Lake

Silver Lake - Frozen and snow covered

Silver Lake – Frozen and snow covered

"Chuck" resting with Silver Lake in the background

“Chuck” resting with Silver Lake in the background

Heading towards Poodle Dog Pass / Silver Lake Trail from the Monte Cristo Townsite.

Heading towards Poodle Dog Pass / Silver Lake Trail from the Monte Cristo Townsite.

Monte Cristo Winter Social, February 7, 2015

The MCPA will be hosting their Annual Winter Social February 7, at 5:30 pm. We will have the usual delicious potluck dinner until 6, with a wonderful presentation to follow. Our presentation this year will be provided by the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center, where rehabilitated animals and birds are cared for. They will be bringing some of their raptors which were injured and cared for at the Center. This is a wonderful exhibit that you won’t want to miss. It may be our only chance to see live raptors up close and to learn so much about them.

New members and visitors are always are welcome! Please bring along a food item to share; the MCPA will provide drinks and utensils.

Place and time of Social: “The Barn” at Jennings Memorial Park in Marysville. Dinner 5:30 pm, presentation 6:00 pm.

Directions to The Barn: “The Barn” 6915 Armar Road, Marysville, Washington

Going north on I-5, exit #199 at Marysville and go right (east) on 4th St, about ¾ miles. Then turn left (north) on 47th–this becomes Armar Rd. At approximately ½ mile, turn right into Jennings Memorial Park driveway. The Barn is about 300 feet from the Armar Road entrance.

Going south on I-5, exit #200 (88th St) and go east to State Ave. Turn right on State and go south, about 1 mile to John Anderson St (also called, “Grove St.”). Turn left on Grove St. and go east .7 miles to 51st. Then turn right (south) on 51st (Armar Road), about .2 miles to Jennings Memorial Park. The Barn is about 300 feet from the Armar Road entrance.


Our last regularly scheduled work party of the season will be in the townsite for the first time this year. With new access road construction ended for the season we will be allowed to drive in for this one day. Plans are to meet at Mowich, as we did last October. This is the first bridge crossing of the South Fork Sauk River a quarter mile below Barlow Pass on the Darrington side. Please be there by 9 a.m., as the new road is gated and will be locked again after we enter.

We will use our time in town to bag up summer trash in the toilet and campground areas and do as much brushing as possible. Chain saws and brush cutters will be helpful. Dress for mid-October weather and bring along drinking water. As always, we will provide lunch and good company.

We will return through the gate in early afternoon.

Given the return of autumn rains and the level of construction of the road, we recommend four wheel drive vehicles or at least ones with high clearance. If you do not have one you can “buddy up” with someone who does. Hope to see you then!

Update 10/18/2014 – pictures available of the trip on the new access road


At our September 20 work party we had a beautiful day with very many people hiking in to the townsite and also up to Gothic Basin before seasonal rains returned. We checked for vandalism in the town, finished improving the start of the Gothic Basin trail, and brushed out the E&MC Railway grade trail from Barlow Pass down to its intersection with the Mt. Loop Highway. This was maintenance of the work we had begun several years ago. Thanks to everyone who turned out!

Construction of the bypass road from Mowich to Monte Cristo for the hazmat cleanup was interrupted the middle of the month by a lack of materials. It was scheduled to resume shortly with the goal of completion later this fall. If the route is passable for authorized motor vehicles by the 18th of October we hope to be able to drive in for our last work party of the season and before the scheduled year-long closure. If we have this opportunity we plan on cleaning up around the campground and toilet areas, along with cutting as much brush as time allows on Dumas Street and around the turntable. Otherwise, we may not be back until some time in 2016.

Because of the uncertainty of access these past few weeks we did not have a group picnic, but we are hoping to schedule some productive and enjoyable events for this coming year. Those will start with our popular annual Winter Social the first Saturday in February. Watch this space and your newsletter mail box for further information!

Hiking conditions into town have been excellent recently. If you are planning an outing in the near future be sure to check weather and river forecasts as the rainy season begins. Barlow Pass is at 2360′ elevation, with the townsite area around 2800′-3000′, roughly the height of Snoqualmie Pass. From Barlow to the town is an easy hike save for crossing the river, with a distance of eight miles round trip. There is no covered shelter at the Monte Cristo campground, as it burned down and has not been rebuilt. Carry your own drinking water. Due to construction, the new access road is not open to the public and will create a 10-mile round trip with noticeably more elevation gain and loss when it is. The future of the current route is unknown.

Work Party Saturday, August 16 2014

Our next work party will be Saturday, August 16. We will meet at the MCPA picnic table (~1 mile in beyond Barlow Pass gate) at 9AM. Bring your own brushing tools if you have them. Lunch provided by the MCPA !

Upcoming Family Picnic to be September 20; time and place to be announced soon !