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Liberty, a living ghost town, is 2 miles east of US 97 on Williams Creek in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Prospectors struck gold along Swauk and Williams creeks in the 1860s, and makeshift towns appeared and then vanished until the settlement of Williams Creek was established on the site of present-day Liberty in 1880. It was renamed Meaghersville in 1897, and when a post office relocated here in 1912 the name Liberty was bestowed by postal authorities.
At its peak the town boasted a railroad, school, general store, meat market, saloons, a dance hall, an assay office, barber shop, taxidermy business, gasoline station, a sawmill and the offices of logging and mining companies. Whew! The prosperity was unfortunately not to last, and today only a smattering of tin-roofed buildings and cabins built of unfinished lumber huddle along the single main street, which resembles an early 20th-century mining settlement. Liberty is designated a National Historic District.
Information signs at the west entrance to town show the way to several points of interest. There are historical photos inside the Liberty Fire Hall, which stands on the site of the 1892 community hall. Across Liberty Road an interpretive site preserves an arrastra, a water-powered ore-grinding device.
Active private mining claims are scattered throughout this area, and the district is noted for its gem-quality wire gold. The surrounding mountains and canyons are popular with rockhounds. Agate beds can be explored in the vicinity of Red Top Mountain on Teanaway Ridge, west of US 97. For additional information contact the U.S. Forest Service Cle Elum Ranger District, 803 W. Second St., Cle Elum, WA 98922; phone (509) 852-1100.
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