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Lester Ghost Town

Snoqualmie Region


Snoqualmie Region -- Cle Elum Area
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Lester Ghost Town is located in the Green River Watershed which is closed to public access. Visitors to this area may be ticketed.

History: Lester was once a thriving town that provided services and coal to Northern Pacific steam locomotives before they made their journey over Stampede Pass. The town became a victim of both technological progress and the needs of a much larger municipality. By 1908 the town was home to around 250 residents. In addition to the residents’ homes the town had a hotel, roundhouse, post office, general store, and a school.

One resident fought hard for Lester to be recognized by Washington's historic register. Gertrude Murphy was one of the 26 people left living in the town by 1980. She had been a schoolteacher in Lester, but as the town dwindled, she became a champion for the town as well as a board member for the school. The school was closed in 1985, when the state legislature determined that the town was too small to operate a school, and Murphy worked full time to save Lester. In 1993, her home burned down, and she moved a mile and a half out of town into a cabin that she referred to as "the suburb of Lester." Murphy died in 2002, the last resident of Lester.

By the 1940’s the rail line serviced by Lester was switching from steam to diesel locomotives. The new engines had no need to stop in Lester for fuel or supplies, which meant the town had lost a major source of income. The town began to decline. In the 1960’s the City of Tacoma sought to shut down Lester to protect the drinking water quality of the Green River Watershed, and by 1969 the city had purchased the land on which the town sat.

The final nail in Lester’s coffin came in 1984 when the BNSF Railroad stopped using the rail line that ran through the town altogether. The line was reopened again in 1996, but by then the town was no more.


Lester Ghost Town

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.2178, -121.4555 Open map in new window


Snoqualmie Region -- Cle Elum Area

Tacoma Public Utilities District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails Lester No. 239


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Lester Ghost Town

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