On our trip to North-Central Washington last week, on Saturday morning we threw the kids in the car for a little swing through most of Ferry and some of Okanogan County. Primarily, this was to have them be bored in the car for a bit instead of being bored in the cabin, but, it was also to give us a chance to check out some teritory, and a few 'ghost towns' in the mountains.
At one point, there was gold in them there hills, and even now, Kinross is operating a mine outside of town. The old-timers might not recognize it, since it's not chunks of gold, but rather a rock powder than then uses chemicals to seperate the gold out. According to Kinross' site, they took out over 175,000 ounces last year. Historically speaking, there was a plaque in town saying that over 2.1 MILLION ounces of gold had been claimed from the hills around town, and the rivers and creeks are still a popular destination for hobby panners.
The population of the Republic area was once estimated to be over 20,000 folks, compared to the current Ferry County population of 7,500 folks, spread out over 2,200 square miles. That's close to twice as big as Rhode Island, with a population of .7% of our smallest state. So yeah...folks are spread out up there, and along the way, there were attempts at cities that just didn't make it.
This was the first attempt at the town of Washtucna, but as you can see, there isn't much too see...but, then again, two miles down the road, in the current town of Washtucna, there wasn't much to see either. According to a sign they had posted, at one point, half the buildings in Washtucna were saloon's...I'm not sure why you would ever want to leave a town like that.
These next two pictures were the town of Bodie. There is no current Bodie.
Just down the road from Bodie there was this interesting structure. The top was made of wire mesh, and there was a conveyor belt leading into it. I think it had to be some kind of drying building at some point. If I didn't have the kids with me(and I had an interest in getting a tetnus booster) I would like to have explored this place on foot.
In addition to the obvious ruins/ghost towns, there were other buildings that started my wife playing the 'occupied/not occupied game. You'd see this weathered looking structure a few hundred yards off the road, and think 'well, that's a well preserved abandoned house'...until my wife pointed out there were curtains or blankets across the window, and what looked like a car parked behind the building...
I didn't take any pictures of these...pictures of ghost towns, cool. Pictures of something that someone might actually have been living in...kind of creepy even if just taken for educational purposes.
That is the reality of rural living though. I don't point this out to make fun of these folks; I'm sure they would do better if they could. As much as I would like to romanticise having a cute little cabin on 10 acres...there are some folks who can't do any better. And we aren't talking cute little cabin. One driveway lead to a pre-fab metal roof(not even a shed, it was open on the sides) aranged over the top of an Atlas Van Lines Trailer, with permenant stairs built to it, and a hole cut in the roof for a chimney to stick out.
I keep telling myself, 'maybe it's just a hunting camp'. But...boy. It's the kind of place where actual siding on a house is considered a luxury. There were at least three ocupied buildings that just had plywood and paper on them. A fourth guy went all out and had shrink wrapped it in Tyvek.
Still, as long as there is a clump of trees between my cute cabin and their shanty...I wouldn't mind them for neighbors...I'm sure they can tell me where the deer are.