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Find a Chamber Business:

Come join us
at our Visitor's Center
located at:
320 Main Street
Sultan, WA 98294

 

Mailing Address:
PO Box 46 
Sultan, WA 98294
Hours:
10-4 Mon-Fri, 10-1 Sat
Phone: 360-793-0983
Fax: 360-793-3241
E-mail: 
debbie@skyvalleyvic.net

The Wellington Disaster

During the treacherous winter of 1910, in the town of Wellington east of Skykomish snow piles made the track impassable and two westbound trains were forced to wait out a storm. One carried mail, the other carried passengers.The wait stretched into several days. As soon as a section was cleared, a freash slide would crash down the mountain and cover it again. Nervous of the slides, passengers campaigned to have the train moved into the Cascade Tunnerl. Wary of suffocation, the train supervisor refused this request. The train stayed put.

Tired of waiting, a group of travelers opted to hike out. Fighting their way through snow drifts and mounds of debris, they covered three miles of tracks and then followed the wires to Scenic, WA. A second group planned to follow their example and hike out the following day, March 1, 1910. They never had the chance.

During the night, the snow turned thick, heavy and wet. Overhead, thunder and lightening dominated the sky. Survivors said the ensuing avalanche sounded like 10,000 freight trains. Referred to as the "White Death," the killer raced down the mountain toward the sleeping travelers and lifted both trains as though toys, plucking them off the track and hurling them into the ravine below. To this day, the Wellington Disaster remains the deadliest natural disaster in Washington state history. In that dreadful moment, 97 souls perished into the snowy abyss.

The town of Wellington never recovered from the tragedy. It is still accessible, but no buildings remain. The railway was reconfigured to the route used toady and the old switchbacks were transformed into the Iron Goat Trail, a popular day hike. Historical markers show and explain where the pertinent events took place.

Several snowsheds were added for safety but winter conditions still presented serious hazards and trains were often delayed for days in winter storms. This prompted more improvements. As rail traffic increased a new Cascade Tunnel was completed in 1929. This eight mile tunnel is still in use today. The opening of the new tunnel made the old grade obsolete and it was abandoned completely. This abandoned stretch comprises the Iron Goat Trail today.

For more information on the Iron Goat Trail and the history of the Great Northern Railway, please visit these sites:

The Iron Goat Trail

Great Northern Railway Historical Society

About The Sky Valley

In 1889, John Frank Stevens, who was later handpicked by Theodore Roosevelt to build the Panama Canal, set out to find a path across the daunting Cascade mountain range. The route he forged became what we know today as Stevens Pass.

The railroad quickly followed and the first train made the journey in 1893. The original route was much different than the one we are familiar with today. An engineering masterpeice, the track was a collection of switchbacks. Trains climbed 4,060 feet before entering the Old Cascade Tunnel, which was 2.6 miles long.

Sultan

Sultan originally was platted as a logging community, named after local Indian chief, Sultan John. Its roots consist of logging, mining and farming. Today, Sultan is known for its excellent salmon and steelhead fishing, hiking, camping, river rafting and the Annual Sultan Summer Shindig. Spada Lake Reservoir is located near town. Sultan celebrated it’s Centennial in 2005 with a huge birthday party and the opening of the Visitor Information Center.

A Sultan Secret: 

  • Osprey Park. In fall of odd numbered years, nearly 20,000 pink salmon fight their way up the Sultan River to spawn. This park offers front row seats to this amazing struggle, which occurs every two years. Leash your dogs or be ready to have one stinky ride home. Osprey Park is located in Sultan at 1st and High Street.

Stroll through town and enjoy fresh pastries, gift shops and more.

Startup

In 1890 William Wait laid out a townsite which he called Wallace, but this caused confusion with mail being sent in error to Wallace, Idaho. So in 1901 the name was changed to Startup to honor George G. Startup, manager of the Wallace Lumber Company.

A Startup Secret:

  • The Startup post office was established in 1900.

Gold Bar

The town incorporated in 1910, and constructed a water system and other business improvements. The train depot was also built at this time. Situated along the banks of the Skykomish River, Gold Bar today is a small community best known for the services it provides along U.S. Highway 2, as well as for Wallace Falls State Park, 2 miles to the northwest. The 1990’s saw phenomenal growth around the city, as people moved outwards in search of a more rural lifestyle. The town lies in the Skykomish River Valley, and is rich in recreational opportunities, including fishing, hiking and camping.

Gold Bar Secrets:

  • Gold Dust Days Heritage Festival: Pan for gold, shop local crafts and enjoy live music and great food every last full weekend in July.
  • Reiter Pit is a popular off-roading destination for dirt bike, ATV and Jeep enthusiasts.

Index

The town was settled in the late 1800’s by homesteaders. It takes its name from nearby Mount Index, a craggy peak that looks like an upward pointing index finger. Climbers come from all over to test their skills on this gigantic granite face. The town of Index is often used as a base camp for outdoor adventurers heading into the Cascade Mountains and the new Wild Sky Wilderness Area.

Index Secrets

  • Watch the kayakers and rafters at Boulder Drop (Class 5 Rapids!): Milepost 34 on Highway 2 – look for a turnout and take the path to the river. (Watch your step)
  • Hole in the Wall: a 12-foot diameter drilled hole in the bottom of the cliff just west of town used by the UW physics department for gravitiy experiments.
  • Drive by the possibly haunted Bush House Inn, where Teddy Roosevet once stayed.
  • The two room schoolhouse educates approximately 25 students from pre-school through 7th grade.
  • Rain: Index receives nine feet of rain each year!

Baring

A genuine country store, this local treasure is the post office, restaurant, newsstand, ice cream parlour, and grocery store all rolled into one.

Baring Secrets:

  • The Bridge: From the store you can quickly reach one of the last one-lane wooden suspension bridges in Washington.
  • Barclay Creek Trail: Loacated right across from the store, this trail meanders along the course of Barclay Creek until it reaches Barclay Lake. This easy hike offers little elevation gain and wonderful views of the north face of Baring Mountain. A Forest Service trailhead pass is required.

Skykomish

Skykomish is located in the heart of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forrest in the Alpine Lakes Region. The town Skykomish, an old railroad town, is known as the Capital of the area. You can explore old buildings, restaurants and hotels that are included in the historical registry. Skykomish is also home to a post office, library and lodging. 

Skykomish Secrets:

  • Alpine Falls: Park at any turnoff on U.S. 2, about seven miles east of town. Walk south on a number of pathes. The falls, which drop nearly 50 feet, are particularly impressive during spring runoff.
  • Deception Falls: Turn into the picnic area from U.S. 2, about 7.8 miles east of town. Follow the self-guided nature loop, or enjoy the 1/10th mile trail to the falls.

Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass Ski Area, a longtime favorite of Northwest skiers, is located 16 miles east of town. The ski area, known for its terrain, snow conditions and facilities, now also boasts some of the finest snow boarding, downhill, and cross-country skiing in the Northwest.

Stevens Pass Ski area is home to the first downhill mountain biking area served by lifts in Washington State.    

The 105-mile Stevens Pass scenic byway winds through the rugged, forested Cascade Mountains and runs beside the wild and scenic Skykomish and Wenatchee rivers along most of its length. Year-round recreation opportunities include white-water rafting, hiking, skiing and auto touring. Travelers are advised to carry tire chains and monitor weather conditions during snow season.