MONTE CRISTO GHOST TOWN, WASH. - Long before Donald Trump's billions and the quest for our nation's highest office, another Trump began building the family fortune on the western slopes of the Cascades.
Donald's grandfather, Frederick, a German immigrant, came to Seattle in 1891 and opened a restaurant in Pioneer Square.
'Young guy, on the go,' said historian David Cameron.
But when he heard there was mineral wealth waiting to be mined in the hills of eastern Snohomish County, he set off for the boom town of Monte Cristo.
There are few traces remaining here of the town that once housed 1,000 gold and silver miners.
'In the 1890's, this was all jammed with structures,' Cameron said as he gestured to a heavily wooded area.
A railroad turntable is one of the last remaining artifacts.
'They had four tracks in here for the storage of cars,' Cameron said.
Unless you know where to look, you would have no idea that history's first Trump tower, all two stories of it, rose from this ground.
'Actually, standing right here, you might have been asking Mr. Trump if he would like to rent you out a room for the night or have a meal,' Cameron said.
Trump housed and fed mine workers.
'Basically, he was going to make his money by mining the miners and making a profit that way," Cameron explained.
Here in Monte Cristo, Frederick achieved another first for the Trump family. He was elected to public office.
'He became Justice of the Peace,' Cameron said. 'Not bad for a fellow in his mid-20's. And he won by a landslide, 32 to five. And he beat the establishment, by the way.'
Frederick showed a flair for the art of the deal by not investing directly in mining operations. The deposits turned out to be short-lived.
'At the time that they found them, they looked extremely valuable,' Cameron said. 'They didn't realize that the ore values went down as they got farther and deeper into the mountain.'
After four years in Monte Cristo, Trump moved north to 'mine the miners' in the Klondike Gold Rush.
'Another adventure that he could go off and make some money,' said Cameron.
He would leave a modest fortune that would one day grow into billions of dollars. And it all started here, in the woods of Western Washington.
'Very knowledgeable about dealing with people, I think, and willing to take risks,' Cameron said. 'And generally they paid off.'
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