Monte Cristo may be gone, but its legacy lives on | Taking Stock

By Tim Raetzloff | Mar 29, 2017

Monte Cristo is now just a destination for hikers, located about 30 miles east of Granite Falls and a 4-mile hike from the Mountain Loop Highway.

Little is left of the boomtown that once occupied the site. By modern evaluation, Monte Cristo is a failed town, like the many other ghost towns that dot this state and much of the western United States.

But unlike other ghost towns, including my favorite – Alpine, Washington – the legacy of Monte Cristo extended beyond itself. The value of precious and non-precious metals in Monte Cristo was valued so high that it brought in “Eastern Money.”

Those Eastern investors believed that they needed a nearby port to ship out the refined metals, and a location to refine the ore into metal. They chose Everett and platted a city there.

The names of those investors are immortalized in the names of Everett streets. Colby, Hoyt, Hewitt, Rucker, Oakes, Rockefeller are still the main streets of Everett. Charles Colby named the city for his son Everett.

Monte Cristo didn't survive as a mining town for very many years, but its legacy – Everett – is the most populous city in Snohomish County.

The government of the county was changed, also. The “Eastern Money” wanted a county seat closer to their center of influence. After lawsuits and a disputed election, the county seat moved from Snohomish to Everett, where it remains.

That one fact contributed greatly to the growth of Everett, and the time-warp stagnation of Snohomish, which has, however, contributed to the survival of many beautiful, old buildings and homes in Snohomish that would have been destroyed if Snohomish had continued to grow.

The Monte Cristo sandwich is believed by some to have been invented in the Monte Cristo Hotel in Everett. The hotel was named for the town. That the sandwich was invented there is disputed by many, but it is an interesting local note.

Reportedly, the tree that Jimmie Kyes planted in Monte Cristo is still growing. Jimmie Kyes, later Commander James Kyes USN, was a member of the first group that climbed what is now called Kyes Peak near Monte Cristo.

In 1943, Commander Kyes was the captain of the USS Leary. The USS Leary was torpedoed by a U-boat two days before Christmas.

After Commander Kyes had ordered “abandon ship,” he was checking to see that everyone was getting overboard. He found a mess attendant who had a shredded life preserver that was of no use. Commander Kyes gave his own life preserver to the mess attendant. The mess attendant survived and reported the incident. Commander Kyes did not survive. The Navy awarded Commander Kyes the Navy Cross, posthumously.

President Trump can trace the beginnings of his family fortune to Monte Cristo. His grandfather owned businesses in Monte Cristo during the boom and was aware enough to sell and move on before the bubble burst.

Monte Cristo should make all of us look a little differently at the ghost towns around us. They may have been failed towns, but they certainly contributed to the growth of the region. Monte Cristo probably contributed more than most, but most contributed even though they have been lost to memory.

 

Tim Raetzloff operates Abarim Business Computers at Harbor Square in Edmonds. What he writes combines his sense of history and his sense of numbers. Neither he nor Abarim have an investment in any of the companies mentioned in this column.

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