Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Monte Cristo--what if?
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
polarbear
Member
Member


Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 3683 | TRs
Location: Snow Lake hide-away
polarbear
  Top

Member
PostSun Nov 10, 2002 10:49 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Reading some of the posts regarding the Monte Cristo Railway tunnels got me wondering...what if the railroad had been built on higher ground.  Would the mining operation have gone on alot longer?   Would they still be mining today?  Anyone know how much gold or silver is actually up there?  It seems with todays mining methods, you don't have to necessarily have a bonanza to make a profit.  Don't they sift through alot of the tailings from old mines and make money off it?  Hiking to Monte Cristo is nice, but riding a train up there would be kind of neat too  agree.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Sawyer
Guest





Sawyer
  Top

Guest
PostSun Nov 10, 2002 11:07 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote View IP address of poster
It's interesting conjecture. What if they took the Sauk River route as some preferred in 1892? What if they went through Barlow Pass, but not through the canyon of the Stillaguamish? Would there have been much more permanent residents there since the 1890's? Would there be ski lifts up Wilmans Peak? Would the cyanide-laced land in North Everett be a lot worse? Would the railroad have been replaced by a bigger road? Would the charm of Poodledog Pass, Gothic Basin, Glacier Basin, Twin Lakes have been ruined by rape and pillage mining? Would it have stopped anyway because the ore is such low grade?
Back to top
Search for posts by this user Reply to topic Reply with quote View IP address of poster
MooseAndSquirrel
Member
Member


Joined: 10 Nov 2002
Posts: 2041 | TRs

MooseAndSquirrel
  Top

Member
PostMon Nov 11, 2002 12:46 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
It's easy to have visions, especially when walking along the old railroad grade, of those trains chugging along thru the Robe Canyon, smoke billowing, whistles blowing- the delightful racket of railroads. That must have been quite an experience for daytrippers from the Puget lowlands to venture up in their Sunday finest into the wilderness along the Stillaguamish R., thru the steep Robe Canyon with its tunnels and churning rapids just below the windows of the train cars. Passing Mt. Pilchuck & the stunning face of Big Four Mtn., culminating in the rocky views above Monte Cristo townsite. Truly a world-class railroading experience, now just a memory. But the demise of the mining, railroad, as well as auto access to Monte Cristo from Barlow Pass, can be seen as a blessing, preserving the natural wonders for future generations to enjoy. There's no doubt that if that railway had managed to have survived to the present that the character of the Stillaguamish Valley and Monte Cristo and vicinity would have been tremendously degraded. Sawyer mentioned a Ski Resort at Monte Cristo, and it's not too hard to imagine all sorts of development- either a resort at Big Four being rebuilt, roads and railroads built over Barlow Pass down along the Sauk R. or up and over Poodledog Pass, down Silver Creek to present-day Hwy 2. Of course a railroad running through the Robe Canyon, which is in a state of perpetual decay, soaked by heavy rainfall & crumbling, rotten rock, would be a nightmare of never-ending maintenance- as would any road built above Monte Cristo. We're blessed that things turned out as they did. The scale of man's presence in the area isn't enough to overwhelm the magnificent character which remains.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
MtnGoat
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 11068 | TRs
Location: Lyle, WA
MtnGoat
  Top

Member
PostMon Nov 11, 2002 1:07 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
When I was in the exploration biz back in the mid 80's, the break even for open pit mining was 0.05 - .09 or so ounces of gold per ton, and this was given current gold prices and did not include additional metals that may be byproducts of smelting, such as silver, lead, copper, etc. Since tunneling is more expensive I think we were looking for about 0.25 to 0.5 oz per ton to break even on that.

Both of these assumed average access and site infrastructure, and did not factor in problematic ores with high loads of associated toxics such as arsenic.

I don't know what the concentrations of ore are near MC, but I assume it is/was relatively high, because smelting and reduction was much less efficient, meaning you are throwing a lot of gold away in the tailings, thus to get your break even amount out of it you need even higher concentrations.

The inefficiency of these old processes, combined with current gold prices and modern highly efficient reduction, is what makes old tailings dumps a gold mine in many cases, pardon the pun. wink.gif

One problem they always had was that MC ore had a very high arsenic content bound in with the gold. Even though in the old days they obviously didn't give a rat's ass what they got as byproduct after smelting, even when it was arsenic, it was (and still is I believe) much more costly to smelt gold with high arsenic content. Obviously they felt the ore quality sufficiently high to meet the economic standards for rate of return on their infrastructure, transport, and smelting costs of the day.

Given that I believe higher costs for arsenic laden smelting (doubtless *much* higher) are still likely the case on a chemical basis, and combined with sensible current day concerns about what to do with all that arsenic, I think the overall pain in the butt factor for the arsenic, the smelting, disposal, etc, combined with the holy hell that would be raised if they tried to reopen mining there, makes it pretty unlikely it would ever be attempted.

The other big factor is the geology, from the books I've read and discussions with my dad who has done some geology in the area, the ore body looks huge from the surface but is actually highly localized and relatively shallow. Drifts and shafts chasing high concentrations more than a few thousand feet into most of the mountains ran into a large region of shifts and faults not clearly visible from the surface. They would get back into the mountain, and then suddenly transition from high grade ore to rocks of an entirely different type, bearing little or no ore, in only a few hundred feet.

It appears that in ancient precascade geology, some kind of extensive ore body did in fact exist, but the same faults and tectonic action that uplifted the cascades cut one portion of the ore body off and left it near the surface, while the rest of it went down, way down, or it was all deep and a small chunk got shifted upwards towards the surface. In either case, the ore body in MC is shallow and no one knows where the rest of it, if there is any, went, or still is. I understand there was some drilling later in the 20th in an attempt to figure out if a hidden reserve existed, but nothing was ever found.

So basically, MC is probably safe for a long time. Environmental concerns, high smelting costs, and lack of a large ore body pretty much wrap it up from what I understand. Maybe more than you wanted to know, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it! smile.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Newt
Short Timer



Joined: 21 Dec 2001
Posts: 3189 | TRs
Location: Down the road and around the corner
Newt
  Top

Short Timer
PostMon Nov 11, 2002 9:36 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Nice story MtnGoat.

I do think the demise of the RR is what brought MC down. Thinking if it had been built in a better location it would have lasted longer than what it did. But I do agree that due to the old mining processes and the lack of a good strike, that it would have fallen anyway. Just later. For all the work that went into the
RR it may have been better to tunnel to the Index side at that time.

Ski resort? That was tried on Pilchuck.

We are lucky in the fact that we can speculate and have the chance to explore a somewhat famous area. The MC/Index areas hold lots of history.

NN smile.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Malachai Constant
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2002
Posts: 14111 | TRs
Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
Malachai Constant
  Top

Member
PostMon Nov 11, 2002 10:35 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
This is one of my favorite subjects. Mountain Goat pretty much covered the mining part of the story. The ore deposits seemed to get less rich the further you dug and the Rockerfeller interests ceased production after their geologist reported. I have seen people working the creek with small dredges. The gold they find is commonly almangnated with Hg, a relic of the concentration process. I would avoid downstream fish. If you are in the are a nice trip is up Mystery Hill to the old tramway supports. You can find good ore samples underneath as the buckets were jogged as they went over the wheels spilling some. The ownership is also complex. A proposal was made a fey years back to tunnel in but never went anywhere.
The railroad was still used into the 1930’s with gas “speeders” for tourists. I had some old tickets. After the war a ski resort was considered but rejected due to the avalanche hazard. The area frequently lies in the Puget Sound convergence zone and seems to get the worst weather in the range. Today you would never be able to do it as there is not enough room for a destination resort and access will be bad even if you could repeal all environmental regs.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
MtnGoat
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 11068 | TRs
Location: Lyle, WA
MtnGoat
  Top

Member
PostMon Nov 11, 2002 11:22 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I'd forgotten about that old technique for recovery, using mercury for recovery. What was the process?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Malachai Constant
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2002
Posts: 14111 | TRs
Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
Malachai Constant
  Top

Member
PostMon Nov 11, 2002 8:06 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Usually mercury was used for free milling ores that had flakes too small for the usual hydraulic methods such as rockers and long toms. The ore was ground to flour size and mercury added. The  gold almagnated and the mercury removed by heating.  Even then the mercury was recovered, as it was quite expensive.
There is a description of the concentrator in the book, Monte Cristo, by Phillip Wodehouse, Mountaineer Books 1979 but it does not mention the Hg.  The fact that the tailings contain mercury is well documented and I also know it first hand.
The ores of Monte Cristo were primarily copper pyrites and aresnopyrites but I assume some free gold was present. The ore also shows Malachite and Azurite on weathering there are also iron pyrites present due to the red stains the ore leaves on surrounding rocks (Red Dog).
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
MCaver
Founder



Joined: 14 Dec 2001
Posts: 5123 | TRs

MCaver
  Top

Founder
PostMon Nov 11, 2002 10:14 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I'm amazed at the range of knowledge among the posters here.  dizzy.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
polarbear
Member
Member


Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 3683 | TRs
Location: Snow Lake hide-away
polarbear
  Top

Member
PostTue Nov 12, 2002 8:49 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Here is a fascinating website .  Maybe you had a relative that worked there.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
JimK
Member



Joined: 07 Feb 2002
Posts: 5485 | TRs
Location: Ballard
JimK
  Top

Member
PostTue Nov 12, 2002 10:10 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Interesting find Polarbear. I recognized two names on the list. A. L. Dickerman of Mt. Dickerman fame and the Wilmans, among the first miners at Monte Cristo (Wilmans Peaks).

--------------
Hiking Northwest
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
borank
Lake dork



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 494 | TRs
Location: Lynnwoot
borank
  Top

Lake dork
PostMon Apr 19, 2004 11:15 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
polarbear wrote:
Reading some of the posts regarding the Monte Cristo Railway tunnels got me wondering...

*Reviving an ancient thread*

Where did these posts go? confused.gif

The upper Robe Canyon tunnels have received a lot of attention in recent years, but I always wondered about the Kissing Tunnel, tunnel #1, the longest at 847 feet. The first tunnel encountered on the Old Robe trail is actually tunnel #6.  The trail more or less ends at caved-in tunnel #3.  Tunnel #1 is two or more miles further downstream.  Tunnel #1 E portal then and now.  The E portal is so hidden, you can’t tell it’s there until you’re just a few feet away.  The W portal is completely collapsed, probably back a few hundred feet.  I’m not sure how far back you can go from the E side, if you enjoy wading in 12-18”  of water.  Apparently not all the rails went to Japan as scrap metal in 1936.  The footings are all that is to be seen now of the W side bridge and portal.




tunnel1a.jpg
tunnel1a.jpg
 tunnel1a.jpg (89 KB)
File downloaded or viewed 497 time(s)

tunnel1b.jpg
tunnel1b.jpg
 tunnel1b.jpg (78 KB)
File downloaded or viewed 489 time(s)

tunnel1d.jpg
tunnel1d.jpg
 tunnel1d.jpg (59 KB)
File downloaded or viewed 540 time(s)

tunnel1e.jpg
tunnel1e.jpg
 tunnel1e.jpg (62 KB)
File downloaded or viewed 513 time(s)

Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
MooseAndSquirrel
Member
Member


Joined: 10 Nov 2002
Posts: 2041 | TRs

MooseAndSquirrel
  Top

Member
PostTue Apr 20, 2004 12:25 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
When the new Lime Kiln Trail opens later this summer on the other side of the river canyon (and will end where the railroad crossed the river to Tunnel #1) you will be able to see the two concrete footings of the old Howe truss bridge that spanned the river in the photo you linked to from robecanyon.org  website . Also, just a bit downriver from the bridge site can be seen some remnants of the bridge (bent and mangled vertical support metal rods used in the Howe Truss design & seen in the old photo faintly behind the timber X-bracing). If you did your scramble down to Tunnel #1 recently, hopefully you didn't encounter too much brush getting there! Usually it's an easier trip to do in winter when everything is died back a bit. Entering Tunnel #1 is definitely a "do at your own risk" thing as the western half has collapsed and the rest shows some signs of deterioation.  eek.gif

Further uptrack on the old grade Tunnel #2 site ( because of continual collapses the railroad made it into an open cut) is interesting to see how much it has changed over the years from old photos. Just upstream/track from it and blocking access to tunnel #3 is an enormous landslide with boulders the size of small houses lying near where the grade was. You see all this and marvel at the audacity of the builders to punch a railway thru the canyon! And keep it running. Ha.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Andy D.
Member
Member


Joined: 19 Apr 2004
Posts: 203 | TRs
Location: Bow, WA
Andy D.
  Top

Member
PostTue Apr 20, 2004 9:51 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Borank, thanks for the pictures! After reading the Monte Cristo Railway book by Woodhouse and goind up to Robe Canyon several times, I had wondered if the E portal was still open on Tunnel #1. I'm curious MooseAndSquirrel, when you went to the remains of Tunnel 2, did you come from the west (Tunnel 1) side or the east (Tunnel 3) side? I have gone past Tunnel 3 a few times over that huge slide and that trail gets really hairy on the other side  eek.gif although I have made it over on my hands and knees. I didn't go any farther though as the brush was very thick as it was summer. I have yet to see anything downstream from Tunnel 3. I can't wait until that Lime Kiln trail opens! I got on the mailing list for the work parties, but I don't think I'll have any time to help out til this summer and I think they are just about done with the trail. Here's the volunteers site that I found:
Trail Volunteers - Robe Canyon




newslide.JPG
New slide before concrete arch
 newslide.JPG (163 KB)
File downloaded or viewed 324 time(s)

tunnel3b.JPG
Me in Tunnel 3
 tunnel3b.JPG (23 KB)
File downloaded or viewed 320 time(s)

tunnel3.JPG
Tunnel 3
 tunnel3.JPG (140 KB)
File downloaded or viewed 334 time(s)

uphigh.JPG
High above Tunnel 3
 uphigh.JPG (118 KB)
File downloaded or viewed 344 time(s)

Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
MooseAndSquirrel
Member
Member


Joined: 10 Nov 2002
Posts: 2041 | TRs

MooseAndSquirrel
  Top

Member
PostTue Apr 20, 2004 11:07 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
cdrbond007 wrote:
Borank, thanks for the pictures! After reading the Monte Cristo Railway book by Woodhouse and goind up to Robe Canyon several times, I had wondered if the E portal was still open on Tunnel #1. I'm curious MooseAndSquirrel, when you went to the remains of Tunnel 2, did you come from the west (Tunnel 1) side or the east (Tunnel 3) side? I have gone past Tunnel 3 a few times over that huge slide and that trail gets really hairy on the other side  eek.gif although I have made it over on my hands and knees. I didn't go any farther though as the brush was very thick as it was summer. I have yet to see anything downstream from Tunnel 3. I can't wait until that Lime Kiln trail opens! I got on the mailing list for the work parties, but I don't think I'll have any time to help out til this summer and I think they are just about done with the trail. Here's the volunteers site that I found:
Trail Volunteers - Robe Canyon

cdrbond007, when I wrote that post it was late and my mind was evidently whacked out, because in the light of a new day I now recollect my Tunnel #2 approach as from the east Tunnel #1 portal along the old grade- not detouring atop the canyon & dropping down as I previously had said. The way is a bit rough and the river & canyon have chewed away at the old grade in places but eventually you come to the cut that was Tunnel #2- half buried in slides over the many years.  Just past that is the jumbo slide area from river to canyon top. There are several old rails here and there alongside the river, some bent & others fairly straight- some with dates clearly marked on them.
If ya can't help out on the trail this summer there will always be continuing maintenance once opened like on the Old Robe trail now.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Monte Cristo--what if?
  Happy Birthday Creaky Knees, ryleymyers!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy