5 July 2015 – During the 1890 North Cascade gold rush a railroad was built along the Stillaguamish River through Robe Canyon to transport gold and silver from Monte Cristo (now a ghost town) to Everett, WA. However, the wealth dried up in 1907 and the regular flooding of both the river and high rains caused extensive damage to the roads and infrastructure – including regular landslides along the railroad.
The area along the Stillaguamish River through Robe Canyon is preserved and protected as a historic park just a few miles outside Granite Falls, WA. A trail developed by the Boy Scouts in 1960 follows the river along the old railroad bed. The majority of the trail is well maintained and has wonderful views of the river and canyon. Where the trail hasn’t been washed out by landslides, the old rail ties, rail stakes, and (where the ties are rotted) impressions are still present.
Sections of the trail continue to see the effects of the flooding with rock slides to scramble over and large overturned trees to cross.
The rail system contained six tunnels through the granite canyon sides. None are accessible via the maintained trail, but a short trek beyond the trail end takes you to the first tunnel. The kids loved it – walking through the tunnel and seeing the dynamite holes and toads now inhabiting the dark and damp spaces.
After tunnel we turned back. The afternoon was warm and the kids wanted to go swimming. We walked a couple of miles back and found a nice place by the river to go swimming. The kids packed their swim suits and had a great hour swimming up and down the current and playing in the rapids. Aurelia and Giuliana spent time exploring the calmer pools.