Melancholy and mystery surround the remnants of the once-thriving coal mining town of Melmont, Washington. Established in 1900, the town quickly grew to house a bustling community of miners and their families. However, by the early 1920s, coal production declined, and the town was abandoned.
Today, the ghost town of Melmont attracts hikers, history enthusiasts, and those seeking a glimpse into the past. In this comprehensive guide to Melmont Washington Ghost Town, we will explore this fascinating destination’s history, location, and highlights.
A Brief History of Melmont
Melmont was founded in 1900 when the Northwest Improvement Company, a subsidiary of the Northern Pacific Railway, established the coal mine in the area. The town, nestled along the Carbon River in Pierce County, Washington, comprised several essential amenities such as a hotel, saloon, butcher shop, store, train depot, schoolhouse, post office, and rows of cottages for the miners.
The Golden Years
In its prime, the town’s coal mines produced a substantial output, accounting for 4% of Pierce County’s total coal production. The coal was sent to nearby Carbonado for processing.
The town’s population was diverse, with rows of cottages accommodating different nationalities of self-segregated miners.
Decline and Abandonment
Unfortunately, Melmont’s prosperity was short-lived. Around 1918, the Northern Pacific Railway began transitioning from steam locomotives to diesel and electric models. This shift in technology spelled the end for Melmont’s coal-based economy.
By the early 1920s, the mines had closed, and a devastating forest fire destroyed most of the remaining structures in the town.
Exploring Melmont Ghost Town
Today, the ghost town of Melmont can be accessed through various hiking trails. The town’s ruins, scattered amidst lush vegetation, offer a haunting yet fascinating glimpse into the lives of those who once called Melmont home.
Best Time to Visit
Spring, fall, and winter are ideal seasons to explore the ghost town, as the vegetation is less dense, allowing for better visibility of the remaining structures and artifacts. During these times, the area is particularly picturesque, with vibrant foliage and a serene atmosphere.
Hiking to Melmont
There are three primary approaches to the Melmont town site:
From Fairfax Bridge: Park at a small parking spot on the left side of the road after crossing the bridge. Walk back across the bridge and find a short, steep path on the north side that descends to the railroad grade. Turn left (south) onto the grade and start walking. Do not trespass on private property.
From Carbonado: About a mile before reaching the Fairfax Bridge, you will see a series of pullouts next to the highway. Park well off the freeway and enjoy an easy stroll of about a mile towards the bridge, where you will meet up with the first access point. Continue on to Melmont.
From the east: Drive down Highway 165 until you come to the turnoff for Manley-Moore Road. Follow the winding road until you cross a low, one-lane bridge over the Carbon River. Park near the stub road on the left and walk down to the bridge. Pick up the trail heading down to the river and then east. This trail can be rough and prone to washouts, so proceed with caution.
What to Expect
As you hike along the trail, you will encounter several remnants of Melmont’s past. Some of the notable structures and ruins you may encounter include:
- A mossy retaining wall, part of the Northern Pacific’s railroad grade.
- An old dynamite shed with intact walls but a missing roof.
- The foundation of the Melmont schoolhouse, covered in thick moss.
- The town site, located about a mile from the Fairfax Bridge, featuring a flat, meadow-like area that once housed the cottages and other buildings.
Keep in mind that the trails can be muddy, especially during the rainy seasons. It is recommended to wear sturdy boots and gaiters for a comfortable hike.
The Haunting Charm of Melmont
The ghost town of Melmont offers a unique experience for visitors. The eerie silence, the crumbling structures, and the encroaching vegetation create an atmosphere that transports you back in time.
As you explore the ruins, you may find yourself pondering the impermanence of human creations and the power of nature to reclaim what was once its own.
Other Ghost Towns in Washington
Melmont is just one of many ghost towns scattered throughout Washington State. Others worth exploring include Claquato, Govan, Bodie, and Lester. Each of these towns has its own unique history and charm, making them excellent destinations for history buffs and adventure seekers alike.
Haunted Places in Washington
In addition to ghost towns, Washington is home to several allegedly haunted locations. Some of the most famous include the Oxford Saloon in Snohomish, University Heights in Seattle, and Kells Irish Pub (formerly the Butterworth Building) in Seattle.
These eerie destinations offer a thrilling experience for those interested in the supernatural and the unknown.
Melmont Washington Ghost Town is a captivating destination that combines history, mystery, and natural beauty. As you wander through the ruins and immerse yourself in the stories of the past, you will undoubtedly gain a deeper appreciation for the fleeting nature of human endeavors and the enduring power of nature.
So, if you are planning a trip to Washington, be sure to include a visit to the fascinating ghost town of Melmont in your itinerary.
- Starting Point: 47.04085, -122.04200000000003
- Fairfax Bridge: N 47° 02′ 27, W 122° 02′ 31
- Melmont school ruins: N 47° 01′ 51, W 122° 02′ 00
- Town site: N 47° 01′ 40, W 122° 02′ 09
WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren’t always accurate, and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.