this yellow gate begins a melancholy journey to our recent
past. A time gone by where there once was a thriving town
that no longer exists. But it does exist in our
hearts, and for the many folks who once lived
there- who are now in their golden years that can reflect
on this chapter
in their lives.
summer of 2006, we visited this ghost town to respectfully
bring the enchantment and memory of this place back into
our heart and soul. What is left is a fragment of what once
was. For the past residences of this
town, both living and those who have passed, we dedicate
this to you.
Lester is nestled in a wilderness valley between Greenwater
and Stampede Pass. It is not approachable during the
of Lester are the wind and the birds along with the occasional
train that pipes its way further up through the Stampede
An eerie silence of nature and machine.
Yet there is a lingering sadness that looms throughout this ghost town. Its hard
to believe there were nearly one thousand residents living here tucked in a scenic
valley just west of Stampede Pass. A valley that begins the journey west that
forms the Tacoma water shed just above the Howard Hanson dam. A village so to
speak that supported the railroad line through many skilled workers. They raised
families here, had their own grocery store, school and hotel.
But the passage of time is not always kind. As trains became more efficient and
reliable, there became less need for a dedicated town to support that uphill
climb over the pass. Still, Lester marched on with aplomb and the Lester School
itself became a proud namesake.
But not for long. Tacoma school district eventually closed the school- and without
an industry to support the town, residences began to evaporate. The city of Tacoma
purchased the land in and around the city of Lester and their life long leases
apportioned to residents of the town had an interesting clause in the contract.
Their homes would revert back to the city of Tacoma at their death. These homes
could not be sold or transferred.
And in time, these homes were bulldozed one by one. The structures that do remain
are most likely of folks who have long since taken residence elsewhere and who
have not passed away.
I was recently fortunate to visit a special Lester presentation hosted by the
BNSF Retirees group of Auburn. In attendance were many folks who lived and worked
there. Their tales and experiences are as remarkable as the fading memory of