The Iron Goat Trail is a popular spot for hikers in Washington. It appears to be a pristine trail with its surrounded trees and lush foliage but if you take a closer look at the ground around you, you’ll notice something a little mysterious. Pieces of rusted metal are scattered throughout the woods and they’re not old mining equipment. Rather, they’re the remnants of the deadliest avalanche in the country’s history.
In February 1910 an intense blizzard trapped the small rail station of Wellington for 9 nine days. The snow was so high that the area was impassible leaving a passenger train and mail train stuck in the station. Station workers tried their best to free the trains but it was impossible meaning they were stuck in place for 6 days at the base of Windy Mountain.
On February 28th, things seemed to take a positive turn. The snow stopped and a warm wind and rain fronted the area. However, this proved to be deadly as the change in weather prompted a thunderstorm that broke a ten-foot-high mass of snow, half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, loose. The snow cascaded down the mountain and killed 96 people as the stuck trains were thrown 150 feet downhill into the Tye River Valley by the force of the avalanche.
To make things more macabre, most bodies were not recovered until late July because of adverse weather conditions in the area. And because of the tragedy, the surrounding town eventually dissolved despite renaming itself “Tye”. What remains today are remnants of the trains, old track, and snow sheds, a reminder of this beautiful trail’s tragic past.
If you’d like to check it out for yourself you can hike the trail usually until the first snowfall or until the Martin Creek road becomes impassable. Its located in the Cascade Range near the original Cascade Tunnel under Stevens Pass. Now, it is worth calling the Skykomish Ranger District office at 360-677-2414 for current conditions as the website is not always updated. And if you do choose to visit please do so with respect and caution.
You can learn more about the trail by clicking here.