At A Glance
TRAIL LENGTH: 4 miles, round-trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 927 feet
HIGH POINT: 1,768'
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Spring, Summer or Fall
POPULARITY: Lightly used
GOOD FOR: hikers
WATCH FOR: no cell reception, mines
FEES & PERMITS: Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass
NEAREST RANGER: Skykomish Ranger Station
COORDINATES: Mill: N47° 51.434' W121° 27.925' Adit 2: N47° 51.416' W121° 27.835' Adit 1: N47° 51.419' W121° 27.671' Adit 3: N47° 51.480' W121° 27.755' West Stope: N47° 51.502' W121° 27.761' Vent: N47° 51.495' W121° 27.756' East Stope: N47° 51.430' W121° 27.661'
LOCATION: Located in Snohomish County, above the North Fork Skykomish River, near the town of Index.
HIGHLIGHTS: Mill foundation, mine entrances, collapsed tunnels
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE: The Sunset Mining Company was formed soon after copper was discovered on the land in 1897. The mine was operated on and off until about 1950. The underground workings consisted of more than 12,000 feet.
FROM HIGHWAY 2:
- Turn north onto Index-Galena Road
- Follow to it's end, where the road has been washed out, about 6 miles.
FROM THE PARKING AREA:
- Walk west along the road to reach the old gravel road up to the mine, about 400 feet.
- Follow the road up hill to the mill foundation, about 1.5 miles.
- From the mill, follow the road east until water run-off cuts into it. Turn left and follow the water to Adit 2, about 400 feet.
- Head back to the main trail/old road, continue east until you reach a small trail on the left, about .10 miles. If you reach the log bridge across Trout Creek (on the right) you have gone too far.
- Follow the trail up to an old road and then cut through the trees to reach a small opening in the forest where Adit 1 is located. This adit is about .17 miles from the trail turn.
- To reach the East Stope, create a path uphill through the forest, about 200 feet.
- From the East Stope head west through the forest. Be on the lookout for the vent, which is a vertical hole of unknown depth, about .10 miles.
- After the vent, the West Stope is west about 50 feet.
- From the West Stope, look for a footpath on the south side. Follow it downhill about 230 feet. Adit 3 is collapsed on the left side of the path.
- Continue along the path to reach the old road back to the mill, about .17 miles.
THINGS TO SEE:
- Mill Foundation
- Adit 2 (collapsed)
- Log Bridge
- Adit 1 (gated)
- Adit 3 (collapsed)
- West Stope
- East Stope
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.
The Sunset Copper Company was formed in 1897, fueled by Arthur Egbert’s discovery of the Sunset outcrop in June of that year. Sunset’s first tunnel, Adit No. 1, was driven in 1898, and the Sunset Copper Company was the principal owner-operator of the mine from 1902 through 1935. In total the Sunset Mine consisted of 960 acres, covering sec.1 T27N R10E and sec. 6 T27N R11E. The operation had 19 patented claims and 8 unpatented claims, in addition to some deeded land.
Operations at the Sunset mine were called spasmodic, meaning that under different operators, production from the mine proceeded at varying paces. Unfortunately for the operators, most production at the site occurred from 1923 through 1930 when the low price of copper made mine operations unprofitable. The underground workings of the Sunset Mine were vast, including more than 13,000 feet of tunneling. Three horizontal adits were driven into the mountainside and they intersected each other extensively.
The sunset mine mainly produced copper, but also some silver and gold. Copper was first produced in 1902 and until 1905 ore shipments were sent by surface tram to the town of Index, about 6 miles away. When the ore arrived in Index it was loaded onto train cars and sent by rail to the Tacoma smelter. Ore production ceased in 1905 and did not resume until 1916 when a logging railroad was built from Index to the mine.
In 1918 a 150-ton per day floatation mill was built at the Sunset mine. Water for milling and electric power generation was diverted from Trout Creek. This water was conveyed to the mill through 4,100 feet of wood stave pipe and flume. Period Maps indicate a dam was being built at the outlet of Trout Lake and that in 1929 it was 70% complete. It’s unclear whether or not that dam was ever finished, but a 1938 map shows that a 22-foot dam was installed at the outlet of nearby Sunset Lake, which increased the lake capacity by 52 million cubic feet. This ensured a 60-day supply of water to the mine during periods of dry weather.
From November 1926 to July 1929 the Sunset Mine produced 193,112 tons of ore. Production slowed in the years that followed, and from 1929 to 1941 only a few shipments of high-grade ore were produced. In 1935 the Sunset Copper Syndicate Corporation leased the mine to settle labor liens held against the parent company for unpaid wages. The lien holders operated the mine on a reduced scale until 1940 when the debts had been paid. The property then reverted to the bondholders.
From 1941 to 1943 the Kromona Mines Corporation of Seattle, WA leased the Sunset Mine and operated it during the opening years of World War II. In 1942 serious flooding occurred in the mine.
The Sunset Mine saw several improvements during the 1940’s including the installation of bunkhouses, cabins, a cook shack, running water, blacksmith shop, machine shop, sawmill, hydro-electric generating plant, and a 250-ton mill.
By 1947 the Sunset Mine had expanded to 5 levels with extensive drifting and stoping.
In 1946 or 1948 (depending on which sources you consult) the Sunset property was purchased by C.V. Brennan who owned the Index Mining Company. During his years at Sunset, high winds brought down many trees that destroyed buildings and equipment.
When copper prices increased in the late 1950s and early 1960s the Sunset property was leased by various companies, including Mono Resources; However, we could find no records of significant amounts of ore being produced during those years.
In all, The Sunset mine produced at least 263, 500 tons of ore from1902 to 1946. Metals extracted from this ore included:
12,912,015 pounds of copper
155,971 (9,748.2) ounces silver
1,500 ounces (93.75 pounds) gold
The last recorded shipment from the Sunset Mine was in 1946.
On April 25, 1985 the US Forest Service took possession of the entire property in a land exchange with Murray Pacific Corporation (a forestry company). In recent years the Forest Service has performed some mitigation at the site, gating off Adit 1 and filling an open ventilation shaft with expanding foam.
Broughton, W.A. 1942. Report of Investigations No. 6 Inventory of Mineral Properties in Snohomish County, Washington: State of Washington, Department of Conservation and Development, Division of Geology
Millenium Science and Engineering Inc (MSE) 2011. Sunset Mine and Mill Site Mt Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington Pre-Removal Action and Monitoring Report: USDA Forest Service
USDA Forest Service 2003. Abbreviated Preliminary Assessment Sunset Mine and Millsite, Mt Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, Skykomish Ranger District, Snohomish County, WA.
Derkey, R.E., Joseph, N.L. and Lasmanis, R. 1990. Metal Mines of Washington – Prelimanry Report: Washington Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Earth Resources Open File Rerport 90-18. 577p.
Northwest Underground Explorations, 1997. Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines, Volume 1: The West Central Cascade Mountains: Oso Publishing, Arlington, WA 230p
Toepfer, P.H., 1953, Investigations of the Sunset Copper Mine, Snohomish County, Washington: U.S. Bureau of Mines Report of Investigations 4989, 9p
Wolff, F.E., McKay, D.T., Jr., Norman, D.K., 2002. Inactive and Abandoned Mine Lands: Sunet Mine, Snohomish County, Washington: Washington Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Earth Resources Open File Report 2002-4. 9p
Campbell, C.M. 1938. Report on Sunset Mine Near Index, Wash: (Privately published by the author), 45p
Diebold, J 1960. Sunset Mine’s Sad Story: Compressed Air Magazine, May 1960, p22 – 24
Huntting, M.T. 1956. Inventory of Washington Minerals, Part II – Metallic Minerals: Washington Division of Mines and Geology Bulletin 37, Par II, 2v
Norman, D.K. 2000. Washington’s Inactive and Abandoned Metal Mines Inventory and Database: Washington Geology, v.28, no.1/2 p.16-18
Patty, E.N., 1921. The Metal Mines of Washington: Washington Geological Survey Bulletin 23, 366p.
Tabor, R.W., Frizzell, V.A. Jr., Booth, D.B. Whetten, J.T. Waitt, R.B. Jr., Zartman, R.E. 1982. Preliminary Geologica Map of the Skykomish River 1:100, 000 quadrangle, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 82-747, 31p
Bob Fujimoto & Pat Toman of the USFS
Estate of E.A. Magill