Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home

Philip R. Woodhouse - Monte Cristo

p. 13: In the spring of 1889, Joseph Pearsall, approaching from Mineral City, discovered mineral bands in the valley north of the headwaters of Silver Creek. With Frank Peabody and Mac Wilmans, he staked claims in the area.

p. 25: In 1890, the name Monte Cristo was selected for the area and the first cabin was built in '76 Gulch. The chapter titles that follow summarize the course of mining in the area:

1891: Advent of eastern capital (p. 35)
1892: Getting there (p. 49)
1893: Depression (p. 67)
1894: Production begins (p. 93)
1895: Labor problems (p. 113)
1896: Prosperity (p. 127)
1897: Disaster strikes (p. 141)
1897-1901: Rockefeller's power play (p. 157)
1901-03: Rebirth of mining (p. 169)
1904-06: The decline begins (p. 189)
1907-13: The decline continues (p. 199)
1913-20: Requiem to mining (p. 217)
1921-78: An alpine resort (p. 237)

p. 41: In 1891 M.Q. Barlow surveyed a railroad route up the Sauk River and discovered Barlow Pass. Following this discovery, he was asked to survey a shorter route up the South Fork Stilliguamish River. He plotted a route along the side of the mountains, some distance above the river, avoiding the canyon above Granite Falls, to avoid the destructive effects of autumn and spring washouts common in the Cascades. He was ordered by eastern investors to run the line along the cheapest route, close to the river (p. 52). Construction of the railroad began in the spring of 1892. About the same time the Colby-Hoyt syndicate announced plans to build a huge smelter in Everett. Thus, early development of Everett was driven by the development of the Monte Cristo mines.

p. 67: The boom years of 1890 and 1891 were followed by the bust of 1892, although it was not felt initially in Everett. The nationwide depression continued through 1895 (pp. 49, 116). Development at the mines continued. In 1892-93 a small number of men worked in Monte Cristo throughout the winter for the first time. "No communication or travel in the mountains was possible without snowshoes, and the men used them occasionally 'to visit the outside world.'"

p. 83: An article in the May 11, 1893, Everett Herald quoted Henry Pennycock, who had been in charge of a camp seven miles below Monte Cristo, as stating that 36-1/2 feet of snow fell during the winter. "Traveling is all done on snowshoes or on Norwegian ski." [This article appeared a week earlier in the Seattle P-I (see spi-1893-may-5-p4)].

p. 85: Construction of the Everett and Monte Cristo Railway resumed in the spring and summer of 1893. On September 6, the first scheduled passenger train left Everett for Monte Cristo. A rotary snowplow arrived late in the year and the railroad was kept open in the winter of 1893-94. The mines went into production in August 1894 (p. 103).

p. 110: An article in the Everett Herald, November 29, 1894, describes the rescue of four men trapped by an avalanche in a mining cabin near the Pride of the Mountains mine. A fifth man, Louis Erickson, was struck by a timber and killed. Avalanches and crushing snowfalls are a recurring theme in accounts of winter at Monte Cristo.

p. 144: In the summer of 1897, the Monte Cristo mining district, although the smallest in the state, exceeded all the others combined in production. Disaster arrived in November, when floods wiped out much of the railroad along the Stilliguamish canyon (p. 150). The railroad was not reopened until May 1901. In the meantime, John D. Rockefeller, who controlled the railroad, manipulated the closure to gain control of the mines (p. 163). By 1903, Rockefeller had divested himself of both the mines and the railroad (p. 186). The author describes changes in ownership and mining activity from 1903 to 1920 and recurring problems caused by the harsh weather. Many buildings at Monte Cristo were crushed in the winters of 1910 and 1913 and there were continual problems with the railroad during autumn and winter storms.

p. 226: The U.S. entered World War I late in 1917. By 1918, one could travel in a motor car to the base of Mt Pilchuck. The Mountaineers organized a month-long summer outing in the Monte Cristo area that year.

p. 221: In May 1915, the Rucker brothers, who had been instrumental in the founding of Everett and who had a large lumber mill on Lake Stevens, became operators of the railroad, which they renamed the Hartford Eastern Railway. They opened a hotel in Silverton to cater to railroad travelers (p. 232). In February 1920 the Everett Mountaineers held a winter outing there. About 1920, John Andrews bought the hotel at Monte Cristo and renamed it the Monte Cristo Inn (p. 239). During the summer, the Silverton hotel and the Monte Cristo Inn were almost always filled to capacity. An informal ski tournament was held in Glacier Basin on July 4-5, 1920. "No prizes were handed out; the only trophy was the joy of competition" (p. 235).

p. 236: Organized mining at Monte Cristo ended in December 1920 when the Boston-American Mining Company abandoned operations there, after an avalanche buried most of their equipment.

p. 237: To capitalize on the growing tourist business, the Rucker brothers completed the Big Four Inn in July 1921. This development included cabins, a golf course, tennis courts, and a man-made lake. The railroad was kept open to the inn, attracting winter sports enthusiasts to the area (p. 241). The inn burned down in September 1949.

p. 249: In April 1933, train service to Monte Cristo ended for good. The Ruckers continued to run a gas car from Robe to Big Four Inn, to obtain supplies and customers for their mountain retreat. The era of gas cars and speeders ended in 1936, when the rails from Granite Falls to Barlow Pass were torn up. The old right-of-way was converted into a gravel road, and by the spring of 1937 cars could drive to the Sah Hal Lee girls camp, a mile beyond Big Four Inn. The CCC constructed the long-sought road over Barlow Pass and down the Sauk River to Darrington in 1938 and 1939, now known as the Mountain Loop Highway. In 1942, the rails from Barlow Pass to Monte Cristo were removed and a gravel road constructed, enabling automobile travel to Monte Cristo.

p. 257: In 1963, a corporation of Seattle and Everett men bought holdings in Monte Cristo with plans to build a ski and tourist resort. Several European experts who visited the area referred to it as "avalanche basin." Ted Knightlinger, head of the Washington State Tourist Bureau, questioned whether skiers, "who were not too plentiful at Mt Pilchuck, would drive an additional 25 miles up a narrow, icy road to reach Monte Cristo" (p. 265).

Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page

Copyright © 2002 Lowell Skoog. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: Thu Sep 30 15:21:56 PST 2004