Goat Lake – Rambling Back In Time

Elliot Creek and Goat Lake

Elliot Creek and Goat Lake

There are two things that will enhance your enjoyment of hiking in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.  An active interest in the history of the area, and a tolerance for wet weather.  Fortunately I seem to have acquired both.  Ok, I get the acceptance of wet weather… I go outside to “play” almost everyday of the year.  But the history?  How did this solid “D+ / C-” student who barely passed English (my native language) and never felt the need to “waste” his free time with silly things like school homework, come to have such keen interest in history?  Well, it probably all started by following the explorers, the trappers, the pioneers, the miners… The trailblazers who discovered the beauty of the northwest, and the native people that had thrived there for 1000’s of years.

Sauk Wagon Road

Sauk Wagon Road

That brings me to yesterday’s hike up the Elliot Creek Trail, to the old Penn Company Mining camp on the shores of Goat Lake.  My walk up the misty, forested path was really a walk back in time.  Back to the days when hard men (and women) poured into this mountainous wilderness searching for that elusive gold vein that would make them rich beyond their wildest dreams…

About all that is left of their presence now are some springboard notches in the ancient cedar trees, and a few remnants of the cedar planks that formed the puncheon road.

Penn Mining Camp

Penn Mining Camp

Ok, here is your little micro history lesson. Way back in 1891 a group of prospectors filed a mining claim on a mountainside near a beautiful alpine lake, that up until then was known to the Native American as Sweetleehachu.  So when these first miners sent out wildly exaggerated reports of gold streaked veins popping out of the mountainside a Pennsylvania mining company got busy building a road into and lake and established a small a townsite.  Penn Mining officials renamed the lake, calling it Goat Lake after all the mountain goats that could be seen scrambling around on the mountains.

Circa 1930 with Edith and Jean at Penn mining office

Circa 1930 with Edith and Jean at Penn mining office

The town on the northeastern shore was destroyed by avalanches and then rebuild on the northern side of the lake.  Eventually the ore ran out and the town was abandoned and left to slowly decompose…  But our story doesn’t end there…

Bob Heirman and Susan

Bob Heirman and Susan

Do you remember the name Bob Heirman, the long time Snohomish County fisherman and environmentalist, from an earlier edition of the Adventure Journal?  Susan and I met him by chance one day when we were birding at a local sewage treatment pond.  Well I learned that Mr. Heiriman had a connection to Goat Lake as well.

Back in 1958 Bob and his fishing buddy Henry Grill hiked into the lake to explore a 5 acre parcel of lakefront property that Henry had been deeded as a birthday gift from his brother.  The two anglers were surprised to find several of the buildings still intact, just the way they were when the town was abandoned.  Bob described the discovery in his book, “Snohomish My Beloved County, An Anglers Anthology”.

In a very weird conclusion to the tale, it seems that the US Forest Service actually burned the cabins to the ground sometime in the 1960’s not realizing that the cabins were on private property.

Many years ago the log bridge spanning the mouth of Elliot Creek was destroyed by winter storms making it all but impossible to get over to the remnants of the old township.  So that exploration may have to wait…

Topo Map

Topo Map

The City of Darrington has a nice history page.  Click here for a link.

So back to the hike.  Here are a few pictures I took as I rambled up the trail.

The lowland forest

The lowland forest

Douglas Fir blowdown

Douglas Fir blowdown

My fern garden

My fern garden

One of many waterfalls

One of many waterfalls

Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Area

Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Area

My mushroom garden

My mushroom garden

Once I got inside the boundaries of the wilderness area the trees got bigger and the volume of the waterfalls increased dramatically.

I scrambled down to McIntosh Falls to shoot some video and take a few photos… Unless this is my mom reading these words, in that case I think someone hacked my Adventure Journal and added those photos just to get me in trouble.

McIntosh Falls

McIntosh Falls

The waterfall, named for the family that used to run the hotel at the Penn Co. camp, drops about 300 feet, and the sound is deafening.

A moment of peace...

A moment of peace…

I topped out at the lake and spent a few minutes poking around, taking photos of wildflowers, shooting video, and eating a snack.

The northeastern shore

The northeastern shore

Of course I didn’t forget to add a little video of the day.  The background track is the 1969 Cream classic Badge.  Written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison.

Goat Lake

Goat Lake

That’s about it for this one.  Thanks for following along with my travels.

Kat

Advertisements

About Jeff Katzer

Welcome friends. I'm a cyclist, hiker, motorbike rider, kayaker, photographer, videographer, ukulele player, snowshoer, XC skier, and BEST of all - a grandpa. Somewhere in that list above you'll find the theme of the Adventure Journal.
This entry was posted in Hiking, Photography, Video and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Goat Lake – Rambling Back In Time

  1. MrsBoardwell says:

    Love how you’ve learnt to quote the song choice & title ^_^ do you think a keen interest in history could stem from the fact that yours *ahem* doesn’t go as far back as ours…………? ^_^ Gets a little tedious trying to remember all the Henries and how many of their wives died or didn’t ….? Mind you, interesting theory about the Windsors not being the legitimate heirs to our beloved throne. You heard it here first……
    Great post, as always!

  2. Norma Jean Niemiec says:

    Great photo ‘s and yes I am watching where you had to climb to get these shots. ..take good care,love mom

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Thanks for sharing this interesting history lesson.

  4. Tim Bowman says:

    Jeff,
    That hike and documentary is simply priceless. I can remember hiking into Monte Cristo many years ago, and as you noted above, the whole Mtn. Loop Highway area is very scenic.

  5. akismet-21823b723d5fd355bdeaccea3061925c says:

    Golly, life is even better after learning a bit about Goat Lake and some very fun factoids and human elements in the mix too. Jeff, I really appreciate your great story and look forward t surfing this blog. Thanks so much for sharing. Cheers from Reno, …John

  6. Bruce Bosman says:

    Wonderful story and photos Jeff.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s