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Washington became a state in 1889, and before that, people had lived here for generations. With a timeline like that, it makes sense that Washington is home to quite a few ghost towns! If you’re looking for ghost towns in Washington state, you won’t want to miss this list.
From abandoned mining towns to state-run aslyums, there are plenty of creepy-crawly ghost stories to keep the whole family entertained. But should you be there after dark? That’s up to you!
Looking specifically for haunted houses and haunted stories in Spokane? Check out our article on the Best Haunted Houses in Spokane!
Ghost Towns in Washington State
Once a farming community, people eventually abandoned the east Washington town (pronounced “Go-Van”) once the venture dried up. As people left, buildings became dilapidated.
Today, Govan is a ghost town, with an old school house and post office, along with a few other buildings. It’s a fun area to explore and learn the history of its time, just a little more than 90 minutes west of Spokane.
Some may consider the town haunted, knowing there were allegations of a murder in the early 1900s. What did the town in, though, wasn’t the hauntings but rather a fire that took out the town – twice. According to the locals of Govan, after the last fire in 1974, no one rebuilt after that and most of the townsfolk moved away.
It turns out, a few (3!) people do live in Govan. Check out this fascinating video of the town of haunted Govan below:
A short drive northeast of Govan, Sherman is another ghost town that failed during the homestead era. With an old cemetery adding the fear factor, Sherman may be a true ghost town. You can also check out the remains of a schoolhouse (why are there always schoolhouses remaining in these towns?!).
Chee Saw, an Asian businessman, opened a store in what would become Chesaw during a short-lived gold rush.
When the miners gave up and abandoned the area, logging companies saw their own version of golf in the hills and started cutting down the trees. Chee Saw’s business again boomed. Eventually, the trees disappeared and so did the logging companies.
Eventually, the once prosperous town suffered decline and fire, and was never fully restored to its former frenzy.
Today, the small town of about 10 people – about three hours north of Spokane on Highway 395 – still has a few abandoned buildings to explore.
Want to stay around Chesaw? You can at this Mountain View Guest Home!
Located about 20 minutes northwest of Chee Saw, Molson once had a population of about 300, as miners dreamt of striking it rich with gold. When an arrogant farmer decided to claim most of the town was on his homestead, the town began to dry up.
According to Only in Your State, the farmer published an official notice that everyone in Molson was trespassing, and they all had to leave. Citizens formed the site of New Molson about 1/2 mile north, but it didn’t last long.
When their dreams were crushed, the miners moved on, but Molson didn’t.
Today, however, the community of about 19 is home to an open air museum called Old Molson Ghost Town, with preserved buildings that you can explore, as well as view old farm machinery and mining equipment. The schoolhouse is another museum offering a look at life during Molson’s heyday.
The open air museum was estalblished in 1960 to remember the rich pioneering history of Old Molson and is open year round during daylight hours. You are responsible for your own safety!
Looking to stay around Molson in order to visit it? Your options are fairly limited, but there is this house outside of Molson that’s perfect for an adventurous family!
Possibly one of the scariest ghost towns in Washington is located in southwest Washington, about two hours from Portland. Monte Cristo once served as a mining town. In the 1890s, mining brought thousands of men to Monte Cristo, an isolated area on the eastern edge of Snohomish County.
By 1893, there were more than 200 mining claims. Unfortunately, funding woes, flooding and declining mining potential caused production to cease by 1907. As the mining faded, Monte Cristo eventually disappeared.
Today, a few relics remain, which means that when you visit, treat the area respectfully. You’ll need to plan well for a hike to Monte Cristo, too, as you’ll need to hike about four miles into town along a closed road.
The most challenging part of the hike may be crossing a stream on a log. Not a bridge, but a log! Here’s what the Washington Trails Association recommends when hiking into Monte Cristo:
“Start at the Barlow Pass trailhead and hike along the closed road for about 4 miles. The way is fairly level, with a few steep spots. Floods in 2003 and 2006 have also taken chunks out of the road, which provides ample evidence as to why this road was never re-opened.
Per the Forest Service, the log crossing hikers must do on the way to the town side is not a bridge. The road is on a Snohomish County road, and the USFS cannot build a bridge on this property. Monte Cristo Preservation Association members may occasionally do work on the log to “improve” it, but it is not a bridge.”
You will also need a Northwest Forest Pass to park and hike.
As you visit Monte Cristo, the fear factor may rise, knowing that you’re the only ones in the area, and, who knows, maybe a few spirits from the miners? Since you’ll be hiking some distance, pack plenty of water and treats to stay hydrated and full.
Want to stay nearby to hike into Monte Cristo and enjoy the surrounding area of Everett? Up the fun factor by staying in this treehouse just outside of Everett, WA and close to the Monte Cristo trail! Take a look at the video below to see how you can interact with the treehouse, too:
Northern State Asylum: A Truly Creepy Ghost Town in Washington State
About 2,700 people were committed to Northern State Asylum over nearly 70 years. At one time, it was the largest facility for “mentally ill” people in Washington State and was an entire town itself. The Olmstead Brothers, who helped improve Manito Park, designed the landscape at Northern State.
In the 1970s, the public perception of mental hospitals began to change, and in 1976 Northern State Aslyum closed after the State Legislature cut off its funding. Since then, some of the buildings at Northern State have been torn down, but others remain in use for projects and drug rehabilitation.
Today, much of the property is part of the Northern State Recreation Area. With trails that take you past some of the barns and other out buildings, you can view some of the institution’s remaining area, but it’s off limits to the public. You do not need a parking pass or entry fee to visit this area.
Your hike will take you past an old cemetery, where about 1,500 have been buried. Visiting the cemetery can help tell the institution’s story in a way that textbooks cannot. However, to avoid the fear factor, it’s recommended you not be there after sunset.
Planning Your Trip to Visit Washington State’s Ghost Towns
If you’re planning a trip to visit Washington state’s ghost towns, make sure to check ahead that they are open, accessible (especially in the winter) or require any specific parking pass or entry fees.
While most people think ghosts and demonic spirits when you mention ghost towns, but, really, the ghosts of most of Washington’s abandoned towns are the spirit of each community. While some ghost towns do present a chill factor, you’ll find more history than evil spirits. Regardless, the ghost towns of Washington are must-sees.
Will you be making a trip this year to visit Washington’s ghost towns? Let us know at our Facebook page here!
Want to enjoy more of Spokane and Washington in the fall? Check out our fall-related articles below: