The Plan

Our search for lost mines led us to a series of books called, Discovering Washington's Historic Mines. When we finally laid hands on a copy of Volume 1: The West Central Cascades, the first thing we did was look at the Money Creek area. That led us to Apex, a gold mine higher up the gorgeous rocky peaks from Damon & Pythias Mine, which we had explored earlier in the summer. A new bucket list was formed, with Apex Mine at the top.

On this trip our goal was to make it all the way up to tunnels 1 through 3.  That didn't happen due to a fast-moving weather system that chased us out.  While it's always disappointing to turn back, we found that the lower tram site makes a fun trip all on it's own.


The Drive

This drive took us halfway up Money Creek Road.  Our last trip, in the Pony, our Toyota Yaris, had been sketchy.  But in the intervening months Kevin's car had to be replaced. We traded in his economy sedan for the Packhorse, a Subaru XV Crosstrek.  This time we made it no problem!


The Trailhead

The trailhead is not a trailhead. It's just a wide spot in the road. You would never know it was the portal to an epic adventure.  We had to get out of the car and scope the tree line in order to find the trail. Upon closer inspection, we saw that someone had put a small piece of flagging at the trailhead. 


The Trail

For the first few steps we kept saying, "I wonder if this really is the right spot?" But it was! The trail starts in densely packed second growth forest.  For about 700 feet the well-formed but narrow trail descends.  

Then it widens into a path that feels more like an old railroad grade.  After about 50 feet we started seeing chunks of rusty metal.  This is always a good sign that we are getting close to some interesting history!


Soon the metal pieces became more frequent and mixed with a small creek. Then to the right of the trail the brush opened to reveal a room-sized pile of crushed stone, timber-framing, and rusty metal. 


The Destination

After crossing a trickle of water we saw a large open area to our left. Standing in the middle was a huge hulking machine.

This building was clearly very large when it was standing. By the looks of the remains, it burned down.

One exciting find was a water wheel. Clearly they had been producing their own power here at one point.

It felt kind of like a playground for people who like their history rusty. We explored all angles of the machine, trying to figure out how it operated. 

Then we went back to the trail. It looked like the trail continued toward Money Creek, just above the tram ruins.  It did, but not for long. The ancient bridge had collapsed long ago.

As we said, our hope was to go all the way up to the gold mines. But shortly after reaching the mid tram site, a nasty storm chased us down the mountain. We came back the next weekend, and thanks to a lovely fall day, we reached our goal. You can read about that adventure on the page, Finding the Abandoned Mine Apex >


The End

Thank you for reading about our adventure finding the Apex Mine Lower Tram Ruins.  If you choose your own adventure to this spot, we hope you will drop us a line.