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Highland Creek

Tour winds through timbered hills, into which run several logging roads. The road is bordered by clusters of white and purple fox glove, patches of daisies, milkweed, and scattered beds of California poppies. Cutover areas and heavy stands of maple, fir, and cedar alternate, as the road winds over the ridges, then down toward the valley bottoms.

The tour passes through the Morton Cinnabar Mining district which once produced the largest quantities of mercury in the state between 1926 and 1940, peaking in 1929. By the 1940s the once thriving mining town of the 1920s was only few shacks, mostly vacant, and the reduction plant, was stripped except for the framework and the retorts, and some old vats and ovens.

There are two historical deposits of naturally occurring mercury ore in Washington state. The largest source of mined mercury in Washington was in eastern Lewis County near Morton. The second was in King County, in the Green River District near Cumberland. Both deposits contained cinnabar, mercury sulfide.

The Barnum-McDonnell mine began processing cinnabar after its discovery near Morton in 1913. Miners installed a retort furnace in 1916. A larger retort furnace installed in 1926 brought a period of substantial production until 1929. All production ceased in 1942.

The Roy Mine (also called Morton, Gillespie, or Fisher Mine) opened in 1926 by the Morton Cinnabar Company. This mine was most active in the late twenties. However, it also produced elemental mercury from 1933 – 1938 and during World War II.