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Rugged Roads: Old Molson, Washington

Rugged Roads: Old Molson, Washington

Old Molson Town, located in the northeastern corner of Washington State near the Canadian border, holds a unique place in the annals of the American frontier. Its story begins in the late 19th century when prospectors, drawn by rumors of gold in the region, flocked to the area in search of fortune.

The town was founded in 1900 by brothers Lee and Albert Leckner, who saw potential in the land surrounding Molson Mountain. They named the town after their friend and prominent local rancher, John Molson. With the arrival of the railroad in 1901, Molson experienced rapid growth as miners, homesteaders, and entrepreneurs poured in, eager to capitalize on the burgeoning opportunities.


Gold was indeed found in the surrounding hills, and Molson quickly became a bustling mining community. By 1903, the town boasted a population of over 300, with numerous businesses, saloons, hotels, and even a newspaper, "The Molson Leader," serving the burgeoning population.


Despite its remote location and harsh winters, Molson thrived, buoyed by the perseverance and ingenuity of its residents. The town's economy diversified with the establishment of agriculture, logging, and ranching industries, further solidifying its position as a vital hub in the region. Molson reached its peak population in the early 1910s, with over 1,000 residents and a reputation for being a lively and vibrant community. However, like many boomtowns of the era, its fortunes were transient. As the easily accessible gold deposits dwindled and World War I diverted attention and resources elsewhere, Molson began to decline.


The 1920s saw a gradual exodus of residents as mining operations ceased and economic opportunities waned. By the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Molson had become a ghost town, its once-thriving streets eerily quiet and deserted. Despite its decline, Molson's legacy endured. In the 1970s, the Molson Historical Society was founded with the aim of preserving the town's heritage. Many of the original buildings were restored, and Molson became a popular destination for history enthusiasts and tourists seeking to experience a slice of frontier life.

Today, Old Molson Town stands as a testament to the resilience and spirit of America's pioneers. Visitors can wander its streets, explore its restored buildings, and imagine the lives of those who once called this remote corner of Washington home. Though its golden age may have passed, the legacy of Old Molson Town continues to shine brightly in the collective memory of the Pacific Northwest.


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