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Salmon la Sac area has a long and storied history

By JUSTIN PITTMAN
Daily Record
Visitors exposed to colorful mining and railroad history

Visitors have always used the Salmon la Sac area north of Lake Cle Elum as a gateway to vast high Cascade forests.

Native Americans created the first trails through the Salmon la Sac area, and used the area for layovers on journeys into higher mountain areas.

Later, after the formation of the Cle Elum Mining District in the late 1800s, the area connected miners to nearby claims that held deposits of gold and other minerals.

The Cle Elum Mining District formed in the Salmon la Sac area in 1883, and a boom was under way by 1896. By 1900, miners had discovered rich deposits of cinnabar, silver, lead, copper, iron nickel and gold in the area. People began to move into the upper portions of Salmon la Sac after World War I, according to accounts found in interviews conducted by local historian and former Cle Elum-Roslyn High School history teacher Fred Krueger. At one point, more than 1,000 families inhabited the area.

“Roslyn’s economy was often talked about as being coal oriented,” Krueger said. “But when the miners came down from Salmon la Sac with their gold and silver, they would certainly make the economy hum.”

People familiar with the area tell tales of a miner who journeyed from Salmon la Sac to Roslyn after striking it rich. He hired a band for 24 hours and left town broke.

In the late 1800s plans developed to build a town, called Galena City, in the heart of Salmon la Sac at the confluence of Camp Creek and the Cle Elum River. The town was intended to be the end of a railroad built in to the mining area. A post office and general store were established near the site, but Galena City never materialized.

Railroad

Interest in building a railroad in the area began to develop around 1907. In 1912, the Kittitas Railway and Power Co., the company formed to develop the railroad, began to build a cabin in the Salmon la Sac area that would serve as an office and depot. Shortly afterward, French interests backing the Kittitas Railway and Power Co. withdrew their support as World War I broke out, and France’s investment capital shifted toward the country’s war effort. The railroad was abandoned, and the U.S. Forest Service used the cabin as a ranger station until 1962. Thanks to the efforts of Krueger and a group of concerned Upper Kittitas County citizens, the cabin, known as the Salmon la Sac Guard Station, is now on the national and state registers for historic places.

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