Sunday, March 23, 2014

Monte Cristo or Bust!

I'm happy to report that I've successfully discovered another way to make the eyes of all three men in my life glaze over quickern' you can say Frame Family.

It goes like this.

ME: This stretch of highway wasn't actually part of Lake Stevens until 2009. The town used to just be across the lake where the post office and library are. In fact, until the 1950s, there weren't even roads all the way around the lake, so people who lived on this side had to boat over to town for supplies and such.

JEFF: Ah.

ME: In the 2000 census, the population of Lake Stevens was around 6,000. But in the 2010 census, it had over 20,000 people because the city annexed everyplace surrounding the lake. Now, the population is estimated to be nearly 30,000 people. That's a big jump in population!

JAMES: Uh-huh.

ME: See this fenced-off area that we're passing, Jonathan? It used to be a Boy Scout camp!

JONATHAN: You... read that. In your book.

Yes. Yes, I did. I checked out four books from the library about the history of Lake Stevens, Snohomish County, and the state of Washington.

I know, I know. Your eyes already glazed over. *coughJeanacough*

But, wait! There's more! Have you ever heard of Monte Cristo?

It's a ghost town. The first live mining camp on the west slopes of the Cascade Range. 211 mining claims. Bankrolled by John D. Rockefeller. Over 1,000 residents. It is directly linked to Lake Stevens because the railroad that carried ore down the mountain was destined for Hartford. Which used to be a separate town from Lake Stevens. Separated by, like, six blocks. And a little hill. And a stream. There's actually still an undeveloped tract of land between historic downtown Lake Stevens and Old Hartford. And at one point, it was deemed necessary to link the two communities via rail. Cuz who wants to walk half a mile? No, just kidding. There was a mill in Lake Stevens, and they needed to get their lumber to the train depot in Hartford.

Anyway, back in the day, folks from the Lake Stevens area used to drive tourists up to Monte Cristo and back in a big ol' bus-like train car called the Galloping Goose. Mining operations ceased in 1907, but the townsite was a popular tourist destination into the 1980s, at which time the road was declared impassable and converted to a 4-mile hiking trail.

A hiking trail I fully intend to drag my family up as soon as the snow clears. By that time, I will have devoured all the local historical publications about Monte Cristo, and I will be bursting with trivial tidbits about it which I will exuberantly share with three unexcitable Frames. But at least my guys' eyes will glaze over while they're pumping fresh mountain air into their lungs.

Who's with me? It's a 4-mile walk with only a 700-ft elevation increase. Let's go hiking!