Latitude / Longitude:
842 m (2,762 ft)
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Monte Cristo is a ghost town northwest of Monte Cristo Peak, in eastern Snohomish County in western Washington. The town was active as a mining area for gold and silver from 1889 to 1907, and later became a resort town that operated until 1983. Monte Cristo is located at the headwaters of the South Fork Sauk River in eastern Snohomish County. The town is connected via a trail to the Mountain Loop Highway, which continues west to Granite Falls and north to Darrington. The Monte Cristo Peak, named for the town, is located to the southeast.
Prospecting in the region began in the Skykomish River drainage with the Old Cady Trail used for access. In 1882 Elisha Hubbard improved the trail up the North Fork Skykomish, from Index to Galena, then north up the tributary Silver Creek. A boom shortly followed at Mineral City. The mineral belt was traced in various directions, including north over the divide between the Skykomish and Sauk River drainages. In the early summer of 1889 Joseph Pearsall saw glittering deposits and traced them north to Seventysix Gulch and the area that became Monte Cristo. A frenzy of claim staking quickly followed. In 1890 many miners hiked to Monte Cristo from the south by way of Index, Galena, and Mineral City, crossing the divide at first via Wilmans Pass and later via Poodle Dog Pass.
Very few original structures are still standing, but the four-mile-long road (as noted in driving directions) into town remains popular with hikers and mountain bikers. The road is impassable to vehicles as the shore on either side of the bridge washed out several years ago. The bridge remained standing, however hikers and mountain bikers now either have to ford the river or cross over fallen trees in order to continue onto the old town-site from the Barlow Pass entry. Extensive plans for removing pollution from mine tailings have been written, and include removal and/or containment of pollution in remote mine sites in the nearby Glacier Basin. A new access road is part of the plans for the cleanup. Cleanup of arsenic and other toxins left behind began in September 2012.
Monte Cristo was the first live mining camp on the west slopes of the Cascade Range. There were 13 mines and 40 claims by 1891. By 1893 there were 211 mining claims. The boom required money from the eastern United States to continue to grow. In 1891 John D. Rockefeller became interested in Monte Cristo. His syndicate, Colby and Hoyt, took over the primary mines, including the Pride and Mystery mines. The Wilmans brothers were paid $470,000. Rockefeller’s companies acquired a controlling two-thirds interest in the best properties. Frederick Trump, grandfather of future U.S. President Donald Trump, was also active in the town; he operated a boom-town hotel and alleged brothel there.