At A Glance
TRAIL LENGTH: 1 mile, round-trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 50 feet
HIGH POINT: 2,682'
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Year-round
POPULARITY: Lightly used
GOOD FOR: kids, leashed dogs, beginner hikers
WATCH FOR: no cell reception, private property
FEES & PERMITS: None
NEAREST RANGER: Cle Elum Ranger District
COORDINATES: 47°15.217'N 120°40.000'W
LOCATION: In Kittitas County, between Blewett Pass and Cle Elum.
HIGHLIGHTS: Historic buildings, mining equipment
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE: Liberty, originally named Meaghersville, is a living ghost town. It was the center of a Washington State gold rush in the 1870s and has the look and feel often association with the term ghost town. There is no formal trail through Liberty, but the open landscape makes it easy to navigate. Since it begins by the roadside, it’s a perfect exploration for all ages and abilities.
- Take exit 85 for WA-970 N, Cle Elum and Wenatchee
- At the end of ramp, turn north on WA-10/ WA-970 N
- Follow for .4 miles to T intersection. Turn right onto WA-10
- Follow for about 10 miles. The road name changes to WA-97, continue for another 3 miles.
- Turn right onto Liberty Road, follow for 1.5 miles.
- Park near the interpretive sign.
FROM THE PARKING AREA:
- Walk east, toward town. Arrive at the interpretive sign, bathrooms, location of the original Community Hall, the current fire station and the town sign.
- Cross the street, heading toward an open field with an excavator and several buildings.
- Continue west along the road to the arrastra, and walk along the north side of the road viewing the historic buildings.
- At any point, cross back to the south side of the road and follow it back, to your car.
- Walk or drive back down the road west to view Thomas Meagher's cabin.
THINGS TO SEE:
- Interpretive sign, bathrooms, location of original location of Community Hall, current Fire Station and town sign.
- Gold Placers Inc.
- Caldwell Store & Post Office
- School site
- Ed Guse cabin
- Billy Anderson cabin
- Amos Jordan cabin
- Eloise Stine cabin
- Assay Office
- A.F. York cabin
- William Elliott cabin
- Joe Neal cabin
- Water-Powered Ore Mill site
- Meaghers Hotel & Boarding
- Taxidermy Shop
- Ben Kilson cabin
- Calhoon's Butcher Shop & cabin site
- Livery Stable & Barker cabin
- Gus Siegel cabin
- Thomas Meagher's cabin
Researching primary materials is just as exciting as finding the actual places where the history took place, but it's a slow and challenging process. Exploring History in Your Hiking Boots will be including gems below as we find them.
HISTORY OF LIBERTY
Considered to be the oldest mining townsite in the state, Liberty’s history can be traced back to 1867 when a small amount of gold was first discovered in the area by Newton and Benton Goodwin. The brother’s moved on and spent some time prospecting in nearby areas before passing by again in 1873. This time they struck it rich. Word of the brother’s find quickly spread causing a mini gold rush in the area. By 1876 many miners that had rushed to the Liberty area had left for gold rushes in other states, but many local families that had homesteaded in the area stayed on.
The population that eventually became the town of Liberty was originally located around a spot where two gold bearing creeks, Swauk and Williams, converged. In 1892 a post office was established at the original Liberty townsite. The citizens wanted to name the town Swauk after nearby Swauk creek, but the US Postal Service denied the name fearing that it would be confused with the already established Sauk Post Office. At a town meeting the miners eventually settled on calling their new town Liberty.
When a local miner and store owner named Thomas Meagher built a cabin and established a store about 2 miles east of the original Liberty townsite most of the residential activity was relocated to be closer to the store. The site became an official town in 1880 and was named Williams Creek. In 1890 the miners built a wagon road to improve access to Williams Creek and the population began to grow. It was renamed Meaghersville in 1897 in honor of Thomas Meagher. According to the sign that greets you as you enter present-day Liberty, “In 1911 the Post Office was moved from Old Liberty on Swauk Creek to Meaghersville and Meaghersville became Liberty in Accordance with Post Office regulations.”
Eventually gold deposits in the Liberty area began to dwindle and people began to leave to seek their fortunes elsewhere. However the town still has a small population of residents today, making Liberty what is referred to as a “living ghost town”. There is still some gold to be found around Liberty and mining activity has continued in the area to the present day.
The gold in the liberty area is unique. Not only does it occur as lode gold (microscopic amounts of gold mixed with rock and other minerals) that is mined from hard rock mines, it is also found in streams in a crystalline form called wire gold, and in nugget form.
In 1974 the town of Liberty was added to the National Register of Historic Places. There are many historic buildings in the town that can be seen and photographed as well as interpretive signs and displays of mining equipment from the towns distant past. There is no formal trail through Liberty, but the open landscape makes it easy to navigate. Since it begins by the roadside, it’s a perfect exploration for all ages and abilities. If you visit, be sure to respect the private property of those still living in this historic town.