Ghost Towns and Haunted Places in the Washington Cascades
We know and love Leavenworth as a sweet Bavarian town that looks like it leapt off the pages of a storybook. And here at Run of the River, we soak up the idyllic combination of cozy luxury among nature each and every day. But if you're looking for something a bit more thrilling this fall as Halloween approaches, we're happy to introduce you to a few spooky places in the area. Washington is home to plenty of grizzly stories, but here we have compiled a few mildly-haunted locations and fascinating ghost towns that would make for a fun and creepy day trip while you're staying with us. Happy haunting!
The Oxford Saloon, Snohomish - Originally built in 1900 as a dry goods store and now operating as a restaurant, The Oxford Saloon in Snowhomish saw many incidences of violence during its years as a saloon. Shadowy figures and mysterious incidents have been reported here, including the presence of a police officer who was killed while moonlighting as a bouncer, and who is now seen and felt in the women's restroom. The Washington State Ghost Society performed investigations here in 2005 & 2006, where they detected Electronic Voice Phenomena and anomalies that appeared to take human form in photographs.
The Cabbage Patch, Snohomish - This is a great place to stop for a bite but you might get more than you expected from this old home. Like the Oxford Saloon, it has also been said to have seen some paranormal activity. Patrons and employees have reported the ghost of a young girl upstairs, looking out the windows and standing on the stairs. Employees claim to have had dishes moved or broken and often hear glasses being rattled when nobody is around.
The Original Cascade Tunnel - Built for train travel in 1900 to avoid the steep switchbacks of Steven's Pass, the 2.6 mile Cascade Tunnel was a feat of engineering. The town of Wellington, later renamed Tye, was a railway stop located on the west entrance of the tunnel. This was the site of the 1910 Wellington Avalanche that claimed nearly 100 lives when a 14 foot wall of snow wiped out two passenger trains that had been stranded there at the depot. The 6 mile Iron Goat Trail can still be hiked near the area (traversing the tunnel itself is highly dangerous and explicitly prohibited since its collapse in 2006, but you can view it from a lookout point and walk the snow sheds). Disembodied voices are often heard in the area and some report a feeling of dread at the site of what still remains the deadliest avalanche in US history.
The New Cascade Tunnel - Opened in 1929, the current tunnel stretches for eight miles through the mountain underneath Steven's Pass. The exhaust from the diesel engines has proved an overwhelming and sometimes deadly challenge of this unchartered locomotive territory. Crew members have to don respirators while traversing the tunnel due to all of the trapped fumes. There are emergency stations along the way inside the tunnel, and since 1980 railway crews carry oxygen onboard. There have been numerous lawsuits due to the health complications and, in some cases, fatalities, that have resulted from the poor ventilation.
Blewett - Blewett was a mining town located in the foothills of the Wenatchee Mountains of Chelan County. A result of the mining boom, the town was established as a camp in the 1890s, but also carried the reputation of being one of the most chaotic and violent mining camps in the area. In its two-decade hey-day, the town was complete with hotel, saloon, assay office, black smith, miner's cabins, and a school. Operations eventually ceased around 1910, when the ore veins ran out. Nowadays, after enduring years of abandonment, isolation, and fires, all that remain of Blewett are the mine entrances and the foundation of the old stamp mill.
Liberty - The "living ghost town" of Liberty is in the Swauk Mining District of Kittitas County at an elevation of 2600 feet. Liberty sprang up in the 1870s with the Swauk Creek discovery (notable for producing crystalline gold or wire gold), which led to a mini gold rush in the area. Noted as the oldest mining town in Washington State, the region was originally called Meaghersville, named after local miner Thomas Meagher who built a town store that led others to begin to establish residency nearby. The local miners eventually renamed the town Liberty in 1916. Historical assays show the mine produced about 0.3 ounces of gold per ton of ore, but the supply inevitably dwindled and miners headed off for golder pastures. Today, the remains of some of the structures can be found on the property in addition to the mine. Liberty is still inhabited, but you can explore its past right off the main road.
Govan - The ghost town of Govan sits just off of Highway 2, about 50 miles west of Spokane. In the late 19th century, after the establishment of the Central Washington Railway, Govan was a railway stop before a large sandbank was discovered there which led to a "bustling" population of 76 residents, as many worked to extract sand for the railway construction. As is the case for many of Washington's ghost towns, the building of Highway 2 near the community eventually allowed its residents to relocate elsewhere. But Govan isn't just abandoned...it may also be haunted by the ghosts of one of the state's grizzliest unsolved murders, which left a Judge and his wife killed by axe in 1902. A murder at a saloon occurred the following year. Neither of these buildings are still standing, but there is a truly majestic schoolhouse which, depending on how you look at it, is a beautiful relic or a super creepy feature of a town long forgotten.
Roslyn - The historic town of Roslyn is located just off I-90 in Kittitas County, Washington. The Brick Saloon, originally built in 1889, serves up great food and is famous as the setting for TV series "Northern Exposure" and the film "Runner Stumbles," but it is also the setting for intense hauntings. Brick employees and customers have recounted the appearance of apparitions including a little girl and a cowboy and report the piano in the back room playing when no one is around.
After some good eats, head on over to the Roslyn Cemetery. The cemetery was established in 1886 using land donated or purchased from the Northern Pacific Company and is one of the most unique in the state. It is not one, but a group of 25 separate cemeteries bordering each other, with over 5,000 graves and 24 nationalities represented. Many of those killed in mining accidents in the Roslyn mines are buried in the cemetery.
We wish you lots of treats (and maybe a few tricks) as you head off for spooky exploring around Washington.