Iron Goat Avalanche Goes Down In History As Worst Disaster in Washington’s History – And It’s Haunted.
I was born and raised in Washington State. As a native Washingtonian, I grew up knowing that during the winter you did not want to be in the passes of Mt. Rainer. If it snowed while you were up there, you might as well make a camp until spring, because there is no way down. The Forestry department closes the passes until spring. That’s how much snow it gets and how dangerous it is to travel during winter.
Since this was something I grew up with and was as natural to me as eating or sleeping, it never occurred to me how that knowledge came about. The knowledge learned and passed on was a harsh lesson taught by mother nature. Apparently, Iron Goat Trail, located some 70 miles from Seattle in Steven’s Pass, had the worst natural disaster recorded in Washington’s history.
In 1910 passengers on the Spokane express and a smaller mail train were stranded at Wellington’s station. A powerful snow storm blew in, and Steven’s Pass was now in blizzard conditions. The passengers couldn’t go back to Spokane, nor could they move forward to Seattle and out of the pass. As the snow drifts got higher and higher, the passengers got more and more nervous until the very thing they were concerned about happened. An Avalanche. It thundered down Mt. Rainier, getting larger and larger from the amount of snow that had fallen from the storm.
It gathered so much snow on the trip down the side of Rainier that it was so huge in size it wiped out the station and the two trains, killing a total of 96 people. It was considered the worst natural rail disaster in America and Washington State’s history.
The railroad officials ripped out the track and tunnels in 1929 to build a safer route at lower elevations. However, Iron Goat Trail is open for hikers, and the breathtaking scenery during the 5.7-mile round trip makes the hike worthwhile. There are also remnants from Stevens’ Pass more haunting history: empty snow tunnels, rusty cables, and aging snow cabins. The spirits of the dead seem to make their presence known as well.
Hikers swear they feel icy, ghostly fingers from invisible hands that touch their faces and bodies. The sound of these poor lost souls moaning about their too soon deaths are also heard, according to the hiking website Backpackverse.
Rescuers found the poor dead buried in deep snow, and it is said they still roam the tunnels and tracks trying to find their way home. There have been reports of voices echoing through the old avalanche tunnel. These reports have also stated that there is no one else there, and hikers swear they never said a word.
Mt. Rainier draws people from all over the world to see her in all her majestic glory. The trees, plants, and wildlife that fill Rainer’s meadows are just breath taking.
Yet, she also has a dark and haunted history. Hike Iron Goat Trail in the spring and summer up in Steven’s pass. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery, the fresh air, and mother nature in all her glory. Just also be aware that you might have company in the form of those lost souls who died too soon in 1910.