A Living Ghost Town - Liberty, Washington
Trip Start Oct 17, 2012
1Trip End Oct 17, 2012
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On a business trip to Wenatchee, Larry and I took a detour off of highway 97 between Cle Ellem and Wenatchee Washington and found Liberty, Washington, who claims to be a "Living Ghost town".
According to signage by the Fire House/Museum, "Liberty, the oldest mining town site in Washington, was originally established as Williams Creek in 1850, renamed Meaghersville in 1897, and named Liberty in 1912 the post office was moved to Old Liberty on Swauk Creek to Meaghersville and Meaghersville became Liberty in accordance with Post Office Regulations".
This is the remains of Meagher’s Cabin in Liberty Historic District.
Thomas Meagher is credited with ﬁnding the old gold bearing channel of Williams Creek.
One of the things I found most interesting about Liberty and the type of gold found in that area is that it is called "Crystaline Gold" and instead of lumps it looks like gold ice crystals.
Crystalline gold nuggets, also referred to as crystallized gold nuggets,
is gold in it's most natural form before it has been weathered and
eroded by the elements. While placer gold nuggets have been carried
along by glaciers, rivers, rain, floods, etc... and have been to some
extent worn smooth, crystalline gold is gold that is found still
attached to it's host rock (usually quartz), and is usually found in
veins and pockets within the rock.
On the main street the is a small park whose main feature is a large arrastra (pronounced "ah-ras-tra"),
While looking for a website to adequately describe an arastra I found the following -
"an arrastra is an ancient mill used to pulverize ore, especially ore containing gold.
The wheel goes around and drags a large stone over the rock lined bottom of the tub.
Liquid mercury is put in the bottom of the tub to amalgamate with the fine gold
as it is released from the ore, as the ore is ground into a mud. As a result the larger,
heavier mass of gold amalgam stays on the bottom of the tub when the mud is washed away.
The amalgam is then heated in a retort to vaporize the mercury, leaving the gold. The retort is a small cast iron pot with a sealed lid and a small hole through which the mercury vapor escapes into a small pipe that is kept cool. As it cools the mercury vapor condenses back into liquid.
The Liberty Arrastra is unique and probably the only working arrastra in the United States. Definitely the only arrastra using a horizontal undershot waterwheel. Water shoots on the underside of the wheel, and the wheel goes around and drags the stone.
The use of the water wheel was apparently started by local pioneers in the Liberty area, since the design is found no where else. This arrastra was finished in 1976, patterned after one on a claim near the town, that was later destroyed by vandals. Other arrastras fell victim to weather and time."
A man on a 4 wheeler saw me taking pictures of the arrastra and came and
told me it's history and invited us to check out the firehouse which
doubles as the town "Historic Museum" with photos and what-not on the
As you leave town there is a sign which reads -
"GOOD BY - You have just visited the living remains of a ghost town. One time it had a school, Post Office, Hotels, General Store, Meat Market, Saloons, Dance Hall, Assay Office, Barber Shop, Taxidermy, Gas Station, Logging Companies, Mining Companies, Railroad, sawmill, Doctor, and a population of 200.
An interesting history of the "Swauk Basin History" can be found at Rootsweb.com. CLICK HERE
All photos © 2012 Jackie Whedbee