Posted in History and other topics

Franklin Ghost Town Cemetery

I had saved the Franklin Cemetery for last. It is only right that this is the third and final installment of my Franklin “the Ghost Town” adventure. I have to say I got more than I bargained for. My experience was memorable and made me respectful of things we don’t understand. A ghost town is not named just because it was something in the past. It can harbor things that do not want to let go of what was.

Want to read the the two prior pieces before you get spooked out?   Here are the links:

Franklin Coal Mine on Green River

Franklin Town Site & Old Foundations

Up the hill I went in the direction of the arrow on the sign. There is a certain unease and anticipation when one thinks of old graveyards.  They hold history but also contain the lives and perhaps the spirits of those gone years ago.

However, before I got to the end of the trail and what it held in an over 100-year-old cemetery there were more pieces of the old coal mining and town. Not till I got back home and did more research did I realize that the path up the hill was actually a residential area.  I think houses bordered this once road all along the way. Soon I crested the little hill and saw an area with railing and cement around it. I had come upon a grated mine shaft.

Franklin Mine shaft with grate and fence

Want to get a little closer?  Here it is… you can see that it has been capped in cement and a major grate. There will be no one falling into this deep deep hole in the earth. To think this was just done in 1987. One has to imagine there was something else there keeping looky loos from hurting themselves!!

There is a plaque on the little block you see in the front.  It tells us that it is the Franklin Mine #2 shaft. It is from around 1910 and is about 1,300 feet deep.  I was tagging along with a small family I met on the trail.  Two moms and a herd of 7 kids. One of the little boys tried sending a rock down to see if he could hear it hit the bottom. We had to tell him it was likely he would not due to how deep it is. To give you perspective it is about the distance of two Space Needles down.  YIKES, no wonder the state went to all the effort to cap it.

Mine shaft goes down deep into the earth
Plaque next to mine shaft at Ghost town of Franklin

I tried to take a picture downward into the shaft. Since I have fear of heights and tend to want to not die falling in I did not crawl out on the grate as some do for a photo. So, my next photo is the best one I got.  Kind of gives you some mystery huh?

Grate over Franklin MIne Shaft

Check out how sturdy they made this. It had major girders and then the metal mesh over that. Sure don’t want to drop a camera or anything valuable here.

From here the road type trail turned into just a worn path. At places it was on the edge of a drop off and even had eroded away in places.  Careful hiking was in order.

Trail across from more ruins

Not far from the mine shaft was some foundations that I think from my research was a crusher and a place to load the coal. Could be wrong but that is my best guess.

100 year old mining site at Franklin
Walls made of brick, rock and old concrete at Franklin

A sign that there was heavy machinery and mining is this cable embedded in the ground. Can you imagine what this was hauling? Coal cars?

Steel cable that is embedded from heavy use

Little bit further down the trail was some more ruins. It was a bit swampy here with drainage even in this dry summer. That thwarted me from getting closer.

Coal Mine Ruins Franklin

I did some investigating back behind a ridge and found coal visible. The family had gone ahead to the grave yard, so I picked up some for them. They were fascinated by having a small piece to take home.

Coal on the surface is still there

Just down a short path from the coal pile was this rubble of big rocks. Is this a closed mine entrance? Could be and your imagination gets to run a little wild.

Could this be a closed coal mine entrance?

Right close to this little pile of coal is a small bridge over a gap in the cliff like ridge. We thought it carried coal cars.  What else could it be?  I found out during my Franklin research this held a water line for the small city. Imagine that!

Small rail line or so I thought

I climbed up the steep incline and got the next photos. I did this on my way back from the cemetery. I was a little tired and as happens to us hikers I tripped over a root at the base. I got to the top safely but now knew I needed to be vigilant in what I was doing.

Small bridge that carried water supply to Franklin

Have I made you wait long enough for the unease of a cemetery. Get ready it is not what you expect. All of us have a vision of grave yards as peaceful grass and nice headstones. Nope.. that is not the Franklin Cemetery. I was actually distressed quite a bit by how overgrown it was.

Franklin Grave overgrown by blackberries

The family I had joined up with had a teenager with a small machete. He cut back places where the trail between the gravestones was overgrown. This sad place held graves of miners who died in one of the worst mine disasters in Washington history. In August 1894 there was fire here deep in the mines at Franklin. Plus small baby graves were visible.  Just plain sad.  God rest their souls.

Franklin Cemetery headstone of three miners killed in the mining disaster
Franklin graves not in grassy area – double sad

It was a bit dangerous here. Not only were there blackberries and vines clawing at your legs and arms but old fencing. Many of you have seen the old wrought iron fences from the Victorian era. It was not uncommon to see them in cemeteries around a family plot. Here in Franklin they used them too. However, they were pushed down and buried under briers. They were just waiting to poke someone.

Iron Fence around Mystery grave

This photo was from another blog site. Imagine this now 3 years later and more overgrow. Now the story gets spooky. I parted from the family and went down a different path. I found this headstone I could not make out. Not sure what possessed me to break my rule of not getting into positions I should not…. however, I did. What I did was step over the old fence to get a better look the stone. And a picture to see later and help me sort it out.

The fence poked my leg. Did I stop then? NO, I did not take the hint and climbed over anyway and took this photo.

Worn tombstone that attracted me like a moth to light.

I have to tell you this photo even gave me issues posting it. It took me four tries to get it to go into the post. When has that ever happened to me? I am charging ahead despite the trouble and showing you what is unexplainable.

This smells like a spirit who is not happy with all the people trucking by him. He is not at rest and has even disguised his stone. Nothing else will explain two things that I have to tell you.

First here is a picture from someone else’s blog only a few years ago,  See how the marker is readable?  How could it become so much worn in a couple of years? I have to add that this is a baby’s grave. 1 year old and gone over 100 years ago. Could his mom be watching over him still?  How will we ever know.

Tombstone less worn only a few years earlier

Now the second thing. I got home and took my snagged jeggins off and found them matted with blook.  I had a wound in my thigh. Yes the fence had poked me so bad I bled a bunch into my wet jeans and it scratched me for 3 1/2 inches down.

My scar from graveyard fence – 6 weeks later – see where the hole was and then the scrap downward?

The story goes on…  I got such a huge bruise that the following night I freaked out that it might have a blood clot problem. Then my mother’s voice rang out to me —  step on a nail and get lock-jaw!.

NOoooooOOOOO  that is terrible and my mom has been gone for years so I was even more spooked out.  I went to prompt care the next day. The doctor was enchanted by my tale of being poked by a wrought iron fence in a grave yard.  She measured my contusion as 12″ x 8″.  Told me it was not going to give me a stoke but I did get a Tetanus shot.. which nowdays is a combination of whooping-cough, diphtheria and tetanus.

This ghost left a mark on me and I am not sure what you think but I am telling you there was something going on besides me just being clumsy.

I want to end my adventure tale on a good note.  After I got down off the Franklin hill I took a shot of the parking lot. This area is visible in the drawing posted in the 2nd post about the foundations of Franklin. There was a masonic order building and several businesses down on this flat spot. Here is what it looks like today.

Looking back at the gate to the trail/road to Franklin
The parking lot looking out the exit (see the traffic cone) with my blazing copper car in sight. Oh boy. I had an adventure

But it is not over yet! Right outside the entrance is a one way bridge over the Green River Gorge.  Nature at it’s best and remember how I told you I had been here almost 50 years ago.

Green River Gorge Bridge

It has been rebuilt but memorized at the edge.

A bridge has been here a long tome

The view is something to behold!

 

View of Green River Gorge from bridge
Adventure over.. just have to drive home now!

Ha!!  if I had only known at this time that my Franklin Graveyard experience would haunt me for days,weeks and leave a lasting mark on my leg!

Posted in History and other topics

Franklin Town site and Old Foundations

The ghost town of Franklin in this second installment of my adventure will show you a few things. Besides seeing what remains of a bustling community, I think it is important to point out how time changes everything.

When you find yourself losing faith that life is stuck in some shallow place or you can’t quite imagine how things will change or you are wondering when will Lady Luck or the Devil tear at the  fabric of your lives.  This is when change happens… wait for it …….

Take a deep breath and realize that change is all that we can be guaranteed. Ask Franklin about this. A thriving community on a hillside.  It had industry and was supplying the West Coast with energy to develop and tame the frontier. Then along comes changes to it after many years of prosperity. The coal stopped being the big energy provider it was. The town burned down and now only a ghost of itself remains. She has taken on a new life as a place we visit and marvel in a place still wild and untamed – right next to the Green River Gorge. Yes we all will metamorphosis like Franklin as time passes.

Franklin has that magical way of making us regard our mortality and change.  Come with me now to that place.

So… here I was walking up the trail after my side track to the river.  (here is a link to that post if you missed it – Mine on the River and a Dipper )

I came upon a Y in the road or kind of an entrance to this place of old.

The official entrance to the Ghost Town of Franklin

The signs tell us who has worked to preserve some of the site plus give one directions.

I decided to visit the townsite by heading to the right. Figured I would check out the cemetery last.

The trail is really a road. I have to believe that this is the railroad grade that chugged through the heart of the town. I found this collage of old photos on another blog.  I want to thank them for so much information in one place.  Once you read through my post and want more on Franklin visit this link – Black Diamond History – Franklin – Everything you always wanted to Know 

Franklin main drag

Here I was hiking down the road and the first thing I found was a Hoist Foundation. This is a lot bigger than the one that is in Renton next to I-405. With a little imagination and orientation, I was even able to sort out where the mine entrance was.

Hoist foundation for one of Franklin Mines

How about a more up close and personal moment with this hunk of rock and concrete?

On down the road we go and soon come upon a clearing with ruins on the left hillside and on the right downward slope side.

Brick & concrete outlive the rest of Franklin

Do you think we are in the same place as this picture?

Franklin and Train

Lets get a little closer. I did a bit of hike after these photos and got really wet. I sat on the foundation to wring out my socks later.

Franklin Foundations
Ruins of Franklin the Ghost Town
Not much left at Franklin

Up on the left hillside are more remnants to be seen.

Behind me is this outcropping.  I think this is where a fan house sat that gave the mine fresh air.

see the piece of cement?

Off to the left of that cement piece is where I think the mine entrance was.  We will come back around to this after we look at the rock wall that survives to the right of this area.

But first use your imagination … look at this 1901 photo and then today photos.

Franklin about 1901
Nicely built foundation-wall survives today
Whoever built this made it last.

I kept walking along and got up on the hill behind all of these ruins. I was hoping for more but only got myself really wet and scraped up by the massive blackberry briers.  My jeans were basically snagged beyond repair and my shoes were awash in water.  I had to empty them out and wring my socks out when I got back on the road.  How did that happen?  It was a dewy morning and there was a lot of tall grass on the trail.  I was a magnet for the droplets.

View from above – this was all I found up high
Rose bushes outlived all the buildings
That piece of cement up close

When I got back to the road, I got some of the water out of my boots, and ate a sandwich. Then I climbed up to that hunk of concrete.  This looks back at the brick foundations.

Looking back at the brick foundations

Next to the cement hunk was this gash in the cliff.  What you think?  is that a mine opening?

Was this a mine entrance?

Then it was back down the road to the Y and my next phase of the adventure.  That is the cemetery and mine shaft.  Next week I will tell you how the adventure continued.

Headed back to the Y
Posted in History and other topics

Franklin Coal Mine on Green River

This June I had a quite an adventure driving up to the Ghost town of Franklin. Franklin was a coal mine town established around 1885 when the railroad built by the Oregon Improvement Company finally reached the coal fields next to the Green River Gorge. The town has been gone for almost 100 years. A real ghost town to be explored.

I have so much material I am going to split it up into three pieces:

Franklin #10 Mine on the Green River & the Dipper sighting

Franklin Town site and old foundations

Franklin Cemetery, going home and my graveyard incident

Today it is all about the Green River and the first part of my investigation. The picture you see in the title is the river from the end of road I followed down to almost the water’s edge. When I left the parking lot, having paid my $5 fee, instead of going straight up the trail to the ghost town I took a path to the left.

This area sits on a bluff over the river where it is called a gorge, since it is so deep. There is a small private resort that for years  has charged for one to walk down a long trail with stairs to the bottom of the bluff.  I have a memory of the late 1960s, going there with my boyfriend Dale and some friends. It was a hot summer day then and we had so much fun.

Downward this trail (or old road) to the river it went. Check out this vista of the river about  half way down.

Green River near Franklin #10 Mine on River

Next I came to where a cliff was on the right and the road dropped off.  One could scramble down to a small beach. I chose not to risk a fall with no one around and just admired the river.

End of Road and small beach on Green River

The rock wall had some interesting graffiti. It was not the usual tag kind.  Check them out & see what I mean:

And a final shot of what the rock wall & trail look like

End of trail and rock cliff near Green River Gorge & Franklin

To further set the stage for you, I was standing there enjoying the river and wondering what the heck this place was. At the time I did not know a lot and thought the metal box in the river was just off a bulldozer or something.

Then I heard the bird on the river. He got my attention as he flew by and landed on a rock right in the middle of the river.

Rock in Green River with Dipper – can you see him?
There is the Dipper!!
Zoomed in you can see his grey body with short tail
He turned right to me in this photo.

I have seen this bird only a few times. The first time was in the Ho Rainforest in the Olympic National Park. He is a short-tailed songbird related to the wrens, frequenting fast-flowing streams and able to swim, dive, and walk under water to feed. They like areas with cliffs and overhangs to nest and raise a family. Green River Gorge is a perfect place for them. It is pollution free and has a gravel bed that they like a lot.

So.. a dipper came into my life when I was least expecting it. Great way to start this adventure in my book.

OK – back to Coal mines and this ghost town thing. Remember how I thought the metal thing was from a bulldozer or other construction equipment? When I got home I did a bunch of research and I found this is a coal car.

Up close of the coal car in Green River

It must have been there for more than 50 years. The mine was blown up and closed in 1971.  I need to do some more research on if this is #10 or #12 but either way here are some before and after photos for you to ponder.

Looking East across Green River where Coal Mine was
Franklin #10 before Kaboom – shows bridge & Cliff
See how this is the same place?
Coal mine Franklin on Green River

I think this is the same place – see how the rocks look the same?  Then in 1971 it was blown up and gone forever.

Mine on Green River blown up!

There you go!!  The first episode of my Franklin Ghost Town Hike.  Come back for more next week.