Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Cascade Ghost Town and the Trump Fortune

My sons (and dog) and I hiked to Monte Cristo yesterday, an old mining town in the Cascades surrounded by mountains which are still probably full of silver and gold. The town, which is now mostly signs indicating where buildings use to stand and firs and wildflowers taking them over, once had five hotels, and was largely owned (I learned this) by John Rockefeller! Though Donald Trump's grandfather, Friedrick Trump, owned a real estate office in Monte Cristo!

If you don't recognize the name "Monte Cristo," or "Christ Mountain" in Spanish, it is from Alexander Dumas' great revenge novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.  As a young man about to be married, Edmund Dante is betrayed by his ship-mate, "best friend" (who wants his girl), and officials, and sent to prison on an island in the Mediterranean.  His father dies, and he escapes and seeks revenge.  Another prisoner had told him of a great fortune hidden on an island, which he visits and then entitles himself "The Count of Monte Cristo," I think for that island. 

A trail in Monte Cristo is called Dumas Street.  It's about as wide as any mountain trail, but on both sides are broken-down old hotels, or placards where hotels stood, heading up towards the high cliffs and waterfalls behind the town.  (It's beautiful hiking, though we stopped at about 4.5 miles, for a nine mile total hike.) 

Here's what Wikipedia says about Friedrich's business after he arrived in the US from Germany:

"He amassed a fortune operating boom-town restaurants and boarding houses in the Seattle area and the Klondike region of Canada, during the gold rush."

Who knew that the Trump family got its start in places like Monte Cristo and Jack London's Seattle?

Also, there is a memorial to James Kye, a naval officer whose ship was sunk by German U-boats in the Atlantic, and who gave up his life preserver to a kitchen boy and died at sea. (A naval ship is named for him -- he planted the tree behind the memorial, and I think used to live in Monte Cristo as a boy.)

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