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We are approaching the historic Cascade Mountain town of Index where we will cross over the North Fork of the Skykomish River. Watch on the opposite side from the river for a 500 foot high granite cliff face called the Index Town Wall that is popular with rock climbers. The town of Index has been around almost as long as the state of Washington, itself. When the railroad came through in the 1890s, Index experienced a boom in extraction industries such as gold and silver mining for about 30 years. Granite quarrying and lumbering became profitable industries because their products could be transported by the railroad.  Not only did its many resources help build a roaring town in the early 20th century, but it also helped make many wonderful contributions to the future of the state. Many people surely thought that the town of Index would make a difference in Washingtonian culture for many years to come. However, as time passed, the services the town had offered were changed by society. This caused many of its residents to flee, leaving the town with a sparse population. As it is buried deep in the cascade forest away from the public eye, many people are unaware of the town’s existence. However, one thing is for certain. The town has not lost its beauty nor has it lost its noble history. As we go through town you will see some rafts and kayaks that can be launched here to head downstream through Boulder Drop Rapids.


The Bush House today.

The Bush House today.

The original saw from The Index Granite Company

The original saw from The Index Granite Company

A train passes over the Skycomish River under the Cascade Mountains in Index Washington.

A train passes over the Skycomish River under the Cascade Mountains in Index Washington.

Mount Index

Mount Index

Nestled fifty miles east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains, the town of Index sits on the North Fork of the Skykomish River. Named after the nearby Mount Index, resembling an index finger, this town holds a rich history largely unknown to outsiders. Initially inhabited by Native Americans, the area saw pioneer settlement after their migration prompted by Governor Isaac I. Stevens' Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855. In the 1880s, Amos and Persis Gunn established a hotel to accommodate miners drawn to the region's promise of gold and silver. The arrival of the Great Northern Railway in 1893 spurred Index's growth into a bustling community. Flourishing industries such as the sawmill and the Index Granite Company brought prosperity, attracting tourists who enjoyed its natural beauty and hospitality. However, challenges arose with the Great Depression in the 1930s, leading to business closures and a devastating forest fire in 1939. Despite efforts to endure, Index's vitality diminished over time. Today, it stands as a quiet community of around 160 residents.

Smith, Debra. Saving a historic hotel in Index, HeraldNet. May 31st 2009. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20090605003212/http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20090531/NEWS01/705319904.

Lindgren, Louise. Index — Thumbnail History, historylink.org. September 4th 2009. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://www.historylink.org/File/9143.

indexhistorical. Town History, Index Historical Society. April 11th 2012. Accessed June 1st 2020. http://www.indexhistoricalsociety.org/?page_id=2.

Treaty of Point Elliot, Govenor's office of Indian Affairs. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://goia.wa.gov/tribal-government/treaty-point-elliott-1855.

Muhlstein, Julie. Couple faithfully renovating historic 1899 Bush House in Index, HeraldNet. July 3rd 2007. Accessed June 1st 2020. https://www.heraldnet.com/news/couple-faithfully-renovating-historic-1899-bush-house-in-index/.

Honan, Dave. April 22, 2006, davehonan.com. April 22nd 2006. Accessed June 1st 2020. http://www.davehonan.com/2006/04/04-22-06.html.

Mount Index, summitpost.org. May 14th 2012. Accessed June 4th 2020. https://www.summitpost.org/mount-index/781051.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

(Photo Credits, Pearce Newman)

(Photo Credits, Pearce Newman)

(Photo Credits, Dave Honan)

(photo obtained from Summit Post.org)