When I was just a kid in elementary school, (Meadowdale) My teacher Mr.Medsker took the class up Mt.Pilchuck toward the end of the school year, I believe that may have been my first summit hike. Anyway, he took a group of us on a side hike to what I remember being a mine, it was flooded to about shin deep. I can find no reference to this mine and have done much research (talked to the folks who'd know too) I've heard other people mention a "cave" up there but no one ever seems to remember it's location. Mr.Medsker is likely passed away by now, and if not I got no idea how to contact him. Anyway, anyone know of this mystery mine/cave?
I'm not privy to its whereabouts, but local lore tells of a lost mine on Pilchuck that tapped an ore body so rich in gold you could fill your pockets with the stuff without a hammer or chisel. Of course, everybody that should know of its location is dead and buried.
I also had Mr. Medsker as a 6th grade teacher at Beverly Elementary. He is still alive as far as 3-4 years ago, he was working as a personal trainer at a fitness gym in Lynnwood. If I see him again I will ask him myself but here is what I remember.
He took my entire 6th grade class up Pilchuck to the lookout, even the fat kids! haha. He never took us on a side trip to a mine on that hike. We did however, take a separate field trip to a mine just above Silverton in what I remember was called Eagle Valley???? The mine was flooded with ice cold shin deep water at the start. It was a cool trip, crawling through that mine. It would never get approved now!
a mine just above Silverton in what I remember was called Eagle Valley????
There's no Eagle Valley up there - could it have been up Silver Gulch? A couple of popular mines there were the McElroy Mine (the entrance collapsed about 1965) and the Virginia Agenda.
Right along the highway is Blackchief Mine, on the east end of Red Bridge - every 6th grader goes there. A little farther up the highway is Sperry Mine, also right alongside the road. Up Deer Creek road a couple of miles is the Bonanza Queen Mine.
All the others that I can think of take quite a bit of effort to get to.
Schroder I will relate all I can remember and see if that helps. The trip was in 1984. We got special permission to park on the mt. loop then walk across the bridge and through Silverton. The valley, or "Silver Gulch" was directly above and behind the houses, looking at Google Earth I think it has to be Silver Gulch. I can't remember the name of the mine.
The mine had big timber supports and wooden ladders every once in a while on the walls. We were told not to climb up them but that meant we HAD to do it so we did. In the places where there were ladders there was a wooden planked ceiling overhead. I will always remember climbing that ladder and seeing another room above the ceiling, complete with large boulders resting on the floor/ceiling. At one point we had to belly crawl through a tight spot, everywhere else we could walk upright.
I laugh remembering the teacher and all the parents telling us to be quiet and not make loud noises while in the mine. As soon as we entered the mine, there was shin deep ice cold water and everyone, boys included, starting screaming. . . I thought I was gonna die in a cave-in!
I would love to get back up there if you know the specific mine i am talking about, I remember the teacher telling us there were other mines in the same area. The last time I was up there it looked like Silverton was open to the public? maybe I was just seeing things.
That sounds like the Virginia Agenda to me, a few hundred feet up Silver Gulch from the townsite. There is legal public access but the locals weren't very friendly last time I was there about 10 years ago. I would seek permission to walk in there.
I found this in "Pilchuck: The Life of a Mountain". This is OCR'd from the image and I have not checked it for errors very carefully.
The railroad was almost completely rebuilt and in 1901 a man on Pilchuck could have again seen the smoke of passing locomotives. But although the Rockefeller and other wealthy interests had entered the field, things were not going well at the mines. The restoration of quick and cheap transportation was not sufficient to make operations profitable and gradually this district, once thought to be "as rich as Monte Cristo," comparable with the best in Australia, and certain to be a permanent producer, ceased operations. Only a few optimistic mine owners remained to look after their properties, and to hope for a return of the prosperity which they felt was the area's just due. But the country in general had lost interest in it as a mining district.
"The prospectors didn't do much work on Pilchuck, did they?" asked Merle.
"No," I said. "Pilchuck saw little of the actual mining activity. There are tales of several claims which were worked for a short time on the mountain but we've run across only one and you've seen it—a little prospect at the head of the talus slope in the cirque of Lake Twenty-two."
The railroad, the supposedly permanent trail, had nothing to support it after the mining boom collapsed. The road had been built in anticipation of a large ore tonnage. It passed through several ownerships but the small amount of lumber and tourist business which it handled could not pay the operating expenses and for the replacement of damage done by a river which persistently gouged and destroyed without consideration for the financial condition of the road. No heavy trains had been run over the weakened roadbed for some time. Passenger service by gasoline-driven cars was discontinued in the early thirties. The residents in the upper valley no longer had a railroad at their front door but could come and go only on foot or by horseback. During the next five years the machinery was removed from most of the mines, the rails were taken up, and the equipment sold.
"That's when I first came into this country," said Merle. "Many a time have I pounded up that old grade. It was an awful dead country then."
The mines were closed. Lumbering practically stopped in the upper valley. Land on the north side of Pilchuck had been pretty well logged of its easily reached cedar while the railroad was operating. There were half a dozen mills operated at one time or other along the base of the mountain, most of them cutting shingles, but at least one sawing lumber. This valley is essentially an area of hemlock, which in the earlier days brought so low a price that often it could not be logged profitably. Transportation without the railroad was too difficult and expensive to permit operations of the shingle mills. During the mill activity small settlements existed along the river at Gold Basin, Hemple, Turlo, Verlot and Rotary. The presence of a school during the period is evidenced by oldtimers' reference to Twenty-two Creek as Schoolmarm Creek.
The mountain itself must have heaved a sigh of relief when the mining boom broke. Mining could have stripped it of much of its beauty, its peace, and its lumber.
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