Today we set out to discover the remains of the lost town of Moncton. This small community existed from 1906-1915, located along the northern shore of Rattlesnake Lake.
After a short hike through the woods, we discovered what appeared to be a barren wasteland, a desolate river bed with a lake in the middle. We saw strange shapes coming out of the water and realized we had found Moncton. It was entirely submerged.
By 1915, more than 200 people lived in Moncton, and the fledgling community had a hotel, a barbershop, a saloon, a restaurant, a few stores, and even an indoor swimming pool. A school on the north end of town provided education for children up through 8th grade. Older students had to walk or ride a horse seven miles to the nearest high school in North Bend.
Throughout the clear-cut hillsides that rainy season, nearby residents saw springs burst forth out of the ground, not a good sign. The moraine, filled like a sponge, was squirting out water wherever it could. As more water filled the pool, and more rain fell from the skies, more pressure caused more mini-geysers to erupt in the hills above Moncton. The excess water in the moraine had nowhere to flow but into Rattlesnake Lake.
Slowly the lake began to rise. First, the water edged up to the homes nearest the shoreline. A few days later, the streets muddied, and after that, standing water filled the lower section of town. At first, residents may have hoped that the slow-motion flood would somehow be diverted elsewhere, but it soon became apparent that their community would be underwater by summer’s end.
During the month of May, the water rose a little over a foot per day. Rowboats and a barge were floated in so furnishings and personal items could be removed. After that the levels kept increasing to the point where houses popped off their foundations, causing them to float like corks into the middle of the lake.
Moncton residents kept a stiff upper lip and hoped for the best. Although many were now homeless, those who worked for the water department or the railroad were sheltered in tents while new homes were built for them. Others were out of luck.
The school, located on higher ground, was still in use, but a storm ripped its roof off, and classes were moved to a church on the south end of the lake. By the time Rattlesnake Lake stopped rising, the buildings on the south end were the only ones spared.
Worried that the wreckage-strewn lake would next seep into the watershed, the City of Seattle condemned the town of Moncton. A total of $47,658.03 was paid to residents for their land. The next year, water levels receded enough for Seattle City Light to finish off the town.
It was a great day well-spent alone with the wilderness, and the remains of Moncton.
|Bleak and Beautiful|
|All that remains of Moncton|