Above: The stately Granite Falls Railroad Station was built for both the Everett & Monte Cristo Railway Line, and a political payoff.   (Courtesy, Granite Falls Historical Society.) Below: From the prospect of the unnamed historical photographer, the site of the now long gone Granite Falls station has been returned to nature.  (Now photo by Fred Cruger)

(Note: Click the photos to enlarge them.  For many of them click twice to go bigger yet.)


For itinerates and pioneer town photographers there were perhaps two subjects most often used to represent an entire community: “Main Street” and the local railroad station.   Here, as an example, the Granite Falls station is part of a prosperous tableau that includes Northern Pacific engine #366, and the sweetener of a pressing crowd on the station platform.

Fred Cruger, the current vice-president of the Granite Falls Historical Society, dates this real photo postcard 1909.  Fred adds, “there was quite a political battle going on between Snohomish (the County Seat) and Everett (increasingly the County economic center), about where the County seat should actually be.  Granite Falls was told that if they voted for Everett, they’d get a really nice railroad depot.  It may be difficult now to find the actual vote count, but we did get a great railroad depot!”

This political maneuvering dates from the mid-1890s when the original use of this railroad was to carry minerals from the mountains around Monte Cristo to smelters in Everett.  This enterprise was floated by J.D. Rockefeller and eventually so was the railroad by the autumn floods of 1896 and 1897, which damaged or destroyed tunnels and large sections of track.  Ten years more and most of the mining activity was over.  Hauling lumber and later tourists kept the line going until the early 1930s when tearing out the tracks was among the few new jobs open in Snohomish County during the Great Depression.  The Mountain Loop Highway – for which Granite Falls is the “gateway” – was graded in places over the abandoned railroad bed.

Fred Cruger, also an antique car collector, has often helped us in this column with the naming and dating of old motorcars.  Now we wish to make note that he and the Granite Falls Historical Society have created “then and now” cyber tours for both their community and the Mountain Loop tour.  They are, respectively, and

You may wish to visit Granite Falls for the Railroad Days Festival and Parade, this year on Oct. 1, a Saturday.  Not surprisingly the Granite Falls Historical Museum will also be open, and the Mountain Loop Highway too.


Have we anything to add Paul?

Yes Jean – we will try.  You will remember how we tried to place now-and-then features for both Granite Falls and Monte Cristo in our book “Washington Then and Now,” and in spite of the book being a big one it was not big enough – we failed.   Here we will harvest what we can of photographs having to do with Granite Falls,  Monte Cristo and a few other sites on or close to the Mountain Look Trail, for which Granite Falls is often called the “gateway.” We’ll start with a few views of the falls themselves.  But first we want to thank Fred Cruger again for his frequent help in many things including Granite Falls history and also identifying/dating antique motorcars.

A early look at Granite Falls when the Stillaguamish River was running low, allowing the rocks to be draped with a party of picnickers perhaps.
My copy of this look at the cascade is captioned, "Granite Falls circa 1915."
The contemporary falls has a public works insertion. (Courtesy, Fred Cruger)
Early Granite Falls

If one takes the Mountain Loop Highway out of Granite Falls to the east, one does it counter-clockwise.  When the Monte Cristo train was still running, a big attraction along the way was the Big Four Inn, which nestled below its namesake mountain.

The Big Four Inn was about 25 miles east of Granite Falls, and from the Inn it was but a few miles more to Monte Cristo.


Granite Falls bar

Monte Cristo ca. 1894. I believe that is Wilman's Peak standing above it. Please correct me if I am wrong. A rock is exposed near the center of the photograph and the curving railroad trestle too. It will show again in the two photos to follow.
The mountain and the rock in 1949. (Courtesy Fred Cruger)
The rock - somewhat hiding in the bushes - and the mountain in 2004.
Looking over and beyong Monte Cristo with Wilman's Peak upper right. Monte Cristo - the mountain - is at the head of this cut. The Monte Cristo Railway tracks leading into the mining - and tourist - town are on the left.
Looking north thru Monte Cristo (and so in the opposite direction from the photos shown above) with some passenger cars on the Monte Cristo line showing on the left.
A 1902 promotion for the Monte Cristo Railroad directed at tourists. (Thanks to Ron Edger for finding this among his ephemera and sharing it too.)
A bridge in Monte Cristo - I believe. If I am mistaken may Fred Cruger correct me.

The two attached views above  both look over Monte Cristo, but from opposite directions.  The top subject looks north from the high ridge south of the mining town.  On the far right is Foggy Peak.  Left of center, at the end of that ridge, is  – I believe – Sheep Mountain, which we may assume has a few mountain sheep on it.  The western slope of Wilman’s Peak is on the far right.  The bottom view (just above) looks south over the milltown.  Foggy Peak just misses being revealed.  It completes the snow-capped ridge on the left – behind the hill.  Wilman’s Peak, or part of it, is on the far right.



The Mountain Loop Highway circles a ridge of mountains that includes, north to south, Whitehorse Mountain, Mt. Bullon, Three Fingers (north and south) and Liberty Mountain.  The lumber town of Darrington is also known for its share of bluegrass musicians, some of them immigrants from the south.   Darrington is on the opposite northeast side of the ridge from Granite Falls and much closer to it.  Mt.Whitehorse rises from its back door.

Mt. White Horse above Darrington. Granite Falls is on the far side of White Horse - to the southwest.
The United States Mill in Darrington.
Looking northwest thru Darrington to Skadulgwas Peak, Mt. Higgens, and Rounte Mountain. You may figure out which is which is you consult Google Earth. The date has been scribbled at the top.
Not on the loop but rather hidden to the east - about 40 miles due east of Granite Falls - is Glacier Peak. It is one of our five principal volcanoes, and has erupted within the last 300 years.

ARLINGTON is near the northwest “corner” of the Mountain Loop.  Two cedar stumps are rustic landmarks long associated with Arlington.  First some variations on the “stump as home” followed by another group, “stump as roadside attraction.”  The first was sited on what is now part of the Arlington Airport – or very near it – and the other was next to Highway 99 – and Arlington.  I remember it there as recently as 1970.  Perhaps parts of it and the home survives as local keepsakes.  First the home.

Followed by Stump as Roadside Attraction . . .

Finally versions of Arlington Labor and Capital.

Arlington Wobblies






4 thoughts on “Seattle Then & Now: The GRANITE FALLS STATION”

  1. Thanks for this! Monday, I took my childhood penpal from London (as a matter-of-fact, Paul – I had you autograph and mail a copy of Seattle Then & Now to him more than a decade ago) to the Snoqualmie Train Museum and the guy in the shop was telling me about a ghost town that I promptly forgot the name of. But after seeing your blog, I’m quite sure it was Monte Cristo. (As an aside, the gift my penpal brought for me was “London Then and Now”!)

  2. Jana
    Beware! That London Then and Now may be by a company that produced these repeat books for scores of cities around the globe at cut-rate. The books – I have three for study – are packed with injuries (errors) to the subject. They did one on Seattle about a dozen years ago, sold it for the most part through COSTCO. About one-fifth of their comparisons were needlessly mistaken from some point of view, and some of them quite distantly so.

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