Ghost Towns of Washington visited Monte Cristo on September 25, 2010.
A Special thanks to Kal Klass and Dave Cameron of the Monte Cristo Preservation Association for their kind hospitality on our visit.
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. Rockeffeler 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 intrest in the best properties.
During the 1890s hopes ran high at Monte Cristo. It was widely believed that the area would become the greatest lead-silver district in the Western Hemisphere. Elaborate cable-bucket aerial tramways were built over Mystery Ridge for hauling ore to the town site, carrying as much as 230 tons every day. A five-level concentrator was completed in 1894 at the Monte Cristo townsite. Ore was shipped out via the newly completed railway, 42 miles long from Monte Cristo to Hartford. The boom peaked in 1894, at which time the town's population was well over 1,000. In 1895 there were 125 men employed in the mines with a monthly payroll of $10,500. Employment rose to 200 in 1896. Mining activity indirectly supported about 600 people.
Miners and geologists had made mistakes in judging the potential of Monte Cristo's mineral wealth. There were rich surface deposits but they did not continue far into the ground. Mining below about 500 feet turned out to be seldom worth the effort. Mining operations ceased in 1907, probably related to the Panic of 1907. The town survived as a tourist destination for several more decades, but the county road was flooded out in 1980, and the only remaining business in town, a lodge, burned down in 1983.
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