Boom Towns & Relic Hunters of Washington State: Exploring Washington's Historic Ghost Towns & Mining Camps

Boom Towns & Relic Hunters of Washington State: Exploring Washington's Historic Ghost Towns & Mining Camps

by Jerry Smith



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Boom Towns & Relic Hunters of Washington State: Exploring Washington's Historic Ghost Towns & Mining Camps by Jerry Smith

Visiting the Ageless Wild West Boomtown Mining Days and Striking it Rich

Back in the glory days, gold was $21 per ounce; now, the price of gold is $1,641 per ounce. There was more gold left behind than was taken out. Today, it's mainly a mother lode of memories; however, Jerry Smith states, "There's still gold in them-thar hills!"

Just when you thought that striking-it-rich was impossible, comes a fresh, new updated and revised book transporting one back in time to the boomtown days of yesteryear. Bring back to life the ageless Old West mining-era of prosperous boomtowns, miners, prospectors, pioneers, desperados, and million-dollar gold and silver mines, all with one book. It is Boom Towns & Relic Hunters of Washington State...Exploring Washington's Historic Ghost Towns & Mining Camps.

Boom Towns & Relic Hunters crew is composed of a diverse team including experts from specialties in GPS navigation, high-tech computerized metal detectors, gold recovery, adventure seekers, and cultural historians.

Along with his crew, Jerry shows you the way to some of Washington's most picturesque, abandoned sites whose yesteryears were as colorful as they were lively.

Experience first-hand the excitement of historic ghost towns such as Gold Hill, Silver, Ruby, and Nighthawk. Go back to the legendary boot hill grave site of famed desperado Frank Watkins, and million-dollar mines like the Montana, First Thought located by Jerry's team of experts. Probe the secrets of these unprecedented "time capsules" as well as the clues they offer to extraordinary pioneer and mining days dating back over one-hundred years.

The chapter, information on Metal Detecting and Relic Hunting, is an added bonus. The chapter includes several pages on how to search out and locate long-lost valuable treasures from the past. In the literal sense of the word, arming one s self with a little knowledge about using a metal detector; one s research can actually lead to pay-dirt. So, as a reader, if you re not looking to strike it rich, but would like to visit those colorful Old West days and relive some of Northeastern Washington State s history, excitement is awaiting you in Jerry s New & Expanded Edition, Boom Towns & Relic Hunters Of Washington State-Exploring Washington s Historic Ghost Towns & Mining Camps. Order your book today! This second New & Expanded Edition is filled with over 320 pages, which includes over 137 of Jerry s rare and historic photographs, 23 rare and one of a kind historic mining documents, complete with exact GPS locations, and 25 new adventure stories. In addition, the book makes a great self-guided ghost town reference book to carry in one s automobile while visiting this part of Washington State. For those planning a trip to Northeastern Washington State, the guide will provide advanced information for a greater appreciation of the historic sites one can experience upon arrival.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781598491203
Publisher: Classic Day Publishing
Publication date: 10/28/2011

About the Author

Author, explorer, and tour guide Jerry Smith is a longtime native of Washington State. Along with his diverse Boom Towns & Relic Hunters team of experts, he spends much of his time researching, exploring, and seeking out long-lost and forgotten ghost towns, mining camps and historic sites of Northeastern Washington State.

He has authored numerous articles for various periodicals, including national magazines on the history of Northeastern Washington State. His articles and photography have appeared in Lost Treasure magazine, Washington Prospectors magazine, Gold Prospectors & Treasure Hunters magazine, Cascade Valley Voices magazine, Aero Mechanic newspaper, and Nostalgia Magazine. Jerry has served as an expert consultant on documentary TV shows about the history of Northeastern Washington. In addition, he is frequently sought out to appear at book talks, book signings, and trade shows.

During the summer months, Jerry, an experienced adventure guide, stays busy leading his "Premier Guided Ghost Town Tours," which allows tourists and vacationers to experience for themselves the ghost towns, mining camps, and historic sites in beautiful Okanogan County.

To learn more about the history of Northeastern Washington State, visit Jerry Smith's Web site at

Read an Excerpt

Welcome to Northeastern Washington, a rugged yet fascinating part of Washington State that is rich in the history of the Old West mining era and that so vividly echoes the powerful punch of a miner's pick and the roaring boom of yet another dynamite blast—sounds that signaled the feverish search for the richest veins of gold and silver on earth. Follow the paths of miners and prospectors; walk in the footsteps of thousands of faceless adventurers who sought their fortunes in the dark and explosive atmosphere of black powder and candlelight.

Visit Northeastern Washington State, step into history, and dig into the past!

Many people imagine Washington as a rainy, cold place with lush rain forests, glaciated volcanoes, tall evergreens, and a population made up mostly of latte-drinking aerospace and computer nerds. In fact, Washington is in many ways a place of two worlds.

While much of western Washington meets the above description pretty well, the east side of the state is rather different. Separated from the western part of the state by the majestic Cascade Mountain Range, eastern Washington is arid, warm, and reminiscent of the Wild, Wild West. The lonesome highways of the region pass by tumbleweeds, canyons, coyotes, and free-range cattle. Stampedes, Native American encampments, rodeos, pack trains, cowhands, and other Old West traditions are still the way of life throughout much of this part of the country. So the next time you hear people talk about Washington State, remember us cowboys!

When gold fever struck the American West during the late 1800s, the Okanogan and Methow valleys shone as a middle link in a glittering, beckoning chain that stretched from California to Alaska.

In 1849, a strike at Sutter's Mill in the Sierras kindled the gold mining frenzy. Ten years later, the procession of gold seekers trudged north through Northeastern Washington, headed for rumored riches in Canada's Cariboo country. Many looked for a likely lode along the way. By the late 1890s, the quest had led most prospectors farther north, to the Yukon Territory.

Some Okanogan stragglers succeeded, leading promoters to label this area the "El Dorado of the North." Hence, from 1896 until the Great Depression, gold business boomed, and within a few short months the mountains were dotted with mining camps sporting names like Ruby, Conconully, Barron, Nighthawk, Loup Loup, and Loomis. The Methow Valley shared in the wealth. The search started easy here, with stream panning and placer operations, but soon got down to hard-rock drilling and blasting.

Chinese placer miners were among the earliest to try their luck along the lower Methow and Columbia rivers, beginning around 1860. The "China Ditch," built from a point three miles upstream on the Methow River to today's Pateros, trapped modest amounts of flour gold, popularly known as gold dust. Chinese placer miners worked the deposits of sand and gravel that contained particles of gold or other valuable heavy minerals. Gold is the most important mineral found in placer mining.

The rush up the valley may have begun in 1886, when word got out that Captain Joe White, a Methow Indian, had discovered a big gold ledge on War Creek, up the Twisp River.

Squaw Creek and the Red Shirt Mine hosted the first lower-valley booms. The town of Gilbert, up the Twisp River valley, served a slew of miners during the 1890s. A bit later, the Alder Mine sprang up just south of Twisp, and that mine continued sporadic production until the 1950s, turning out a million dollars worth of metals in its lifetime.

Extracting gold from the Methow's rocky mountains was never easy. Miners seeking riches in the Slate Creek area, high in the rugged North Cascades, faced formidable challenges. The rugged terrain of the region made access difficult and hauling freight dangerous. In an average winter, heavy snowfalls caused snowslides to pour down the canyons. In some cases, buildings were demolished and miners were buried alive. This district was first discovered by west-side prospectors working their way up the Skagit River; however, because that river route was so daunting, most elected to use the Methow access route.

Alex Barron arrived there first, in 1893, and discovered a "glory hole," which spawned a roaring boom town, bearing his name, near the Cascade Summit. Supplying this hungry camp proved a boom for both the town of Winthrop and for Guy Waring, founder of the Methow Trading Company. Two years later, Colonel Thomas Hart bought an interest in the Slate Creek mines and began building a narrow-gauge (26" wide at one point) road into that district. Results of his hazardous project remain today as Hart's Pass—at 6,200 feet the highest roadway in Washington State. Infamous Dead Horse Point along the way marks the spot where an entire pack string of horses plunged off a cliff. Brothers Charles and Hazard Ballard took over Hart's task. They widened the road slightly, and eventually became involved with the Mammoth and Azurite mines, which continued operating through the 1930s.

Many a stakeholder invested in the dream of striking it rich. Cabins were built, bridges were erected, and towns popped up. Some miners and prospectors left the hills and took up raising livestock and planting crops, seeking the more predictable riches of the earth, and so contributed not gold or silver, but settlement and civilization. As in most mining areas, the honeycomb tunnels and holes in the rugged mountains, valleys, and hills do not speak of wealth, but of lifetimes of labor and frustration.

Since the early 1900s, mining has been a sporadic industry in Okanogan County. A revival led to gold production that reached $270,120 in 1940, partly because of an increase in the price of gold from about $20 an ounce to $35 an ounce in 1933.

In 1903, the first year that Washington's mineral output was recorded by counties, the Okanogan's output of gold and silver was placed at $57,000, far less than that of several other areas, and far less than one would anticipate.

The mining surge peaked in the 1890s. Glory holes yielded great sums of free gold in a short time. The surface free gold near certain ledges led to the belief that free gold would continue indefinitely. The easy pickings did not last, however, and prospectors turned to prospecting the ledges for quartz particles. There was never nearly as much profitable production as there was excitement and spending.

Today, nothing but some tailings and a few decayed buildings are found where once feverish mining activity flourished on the edge of the frontier. Thousands of claims remain, from Pateros to Hart's Pass, but almost none are being worked. No one really got rich from mining here, but the glitter of gold is what first brought folks to Northeastern Washington. The gold fever subsided here as it was breaking out elsewhere. In 1897-1898, the stampeders headed for the Klondike and into the Cariboo Mining District of British Columbia. At one point, the town of Barron emptied out, almost overnight. Alex Barron himself headed north. The mining boom towns are now part of Northeastern Washington's rich history.

Table of Contents

Important Noticevii
Then and Now1
Welcome to Northeastern Washington State3
Abandoned Mining Towns of Okanogan County7
Historic Mining Documents Tell the Story13
Ghost Towns of Northeastern Washington, By County27
Ghost Towns of Okanogan County29
Ghost Towns of Chelan County79
Ghost Towns of Ferry County81
Ghost Towns of Kittitas County85
Ghost Towns of Pend Oreille County91
Ghost Towns of Stevens County95
A Brief History of the Native American Peoples of Northeastern Washington101
What is the History of the Native American Peoples of Northeastern Washington?103
Legends of the Hee Hee Stone107
Indian Ambush at McLoughlin Canyon111
Chief Joseph115
Chief Sar-Sarp-Kin: Last Chief of the Sinlahekin Band119
Chief Moses: Sulk-Stalk-Scosum, "The Sun Chief"127
Chief Tonasket133
Boom Town Stories135
From Boom Town to Ghost Town137
The Mystery of Rich Bar139
The Pflug Mansion: From Dreams to Memories141
The Life and Times of Guy Waring143
Okanogan County's Mysterious "China Wall"147
Ruby City: The Life and Death of a Mining Town151
Old Loup Loup: The Lost City163
Nighthawk: The Way Things Were165
Nighthawk: Mining Claims Turn to Riches167
Hart's Pass Area History171
Chinese Gold Fever179
Lost Ruby City Cemetery Revisited181
The Okanogan Trail: The Road North185
Mining in Historic Okanogan County191
Historic Mines197
The Red Shirt Mine199
In Quest of the Montana Mine and Mill207
The Crescent Copper Mine213
The Bodie Mine219
The Million-Dollar Alder Gold and Copper Mine221
The Ruby Mine223
The Tungsten Mine225
The Molson Gold Mining Company233
The Ruby Hill Mining Company237
The Azurite Mine241
The Poland China Mine251
Folklore or Legend?253
Three-Fingered Jack's Saloon: The Odds Were a Million to One255
The Stakes Were High at the Mother Lode Saloon257
What Became of the Wagonload of Ruby Silver?259
The Trinidad Treasure261
The Mystery Canyon265
A Ghost in Riverside?267
Exploring Further269
Stay Out, Stay Alive!271
Boom Towns & Relic Hunters Guided Ghost Town Tours273
Historic Mining Camps & Ghost Towns of Northeastern Washington State DVD275
GhostTownsUSA Wild West Treasure Caches277
Collecting Washington's Boom Towns279
Treasure Hunters' and Geocachers' Code of Ethics287
A Final Note289
Glossary of Terms291
Selected References301

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