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The Sope Creek Paper Mill Ruins are the remains of an industrial complex that was large enough to be a military target in the American Civil War. The mill produced, among other things, paper for the Confederacy’s currency, and Union troops pretty well destroyed it. The walls that stand today are a historic feature in a maze of walking and biking trails of various difficulty that offer scenic views of the creek and plunge you into the forest despite never being far from civilization.

I say “maze” because although the trails have many markers and maps posted, it can be challenging to get a sense of scale and direction if you haven’t been there before, and many trails intersect at weird angles. There is an easy way to get from the Sope Creek Parking Lot to the ruins, but there is also an easy way to miss it and make the journey much longer than it needs to be.

Plus, although Google Maps shows exactly where the ruins are, my portable Garmin GPS unit for driving had no clue. But hey, I don’t mind a little wandering and getting lost on the way to something scenic, or musical, or fun. It’s part of the adventure, and I was driving to random places all across the States for years before we had global digital mapping conveniences. I used to get so damn lost in states I’d never been to before that I’d have to stop at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and buy a paper map, and maybe ask some locals for help. Taking a wrong turn in the forest when I can still hear cars in the distance is nothing.

Anyway, I would rate this mini-hike as moderate, not easy, due to the fact that it requires some moderately steep uphill walking, and portions of the path are rocky or muddy (or both). Traipsing around the ruins and the surrounding creek rocks could be dangerous for the less sure-footed. I was here in the fall about eighteen years ago, and this time was the cusp of spring. I’d like to return someday when all the greenery is in full bloom.

Today’s tune from the psychedelic woodlands is Ruins by Wooden Shijps, performed live in the studios of Seattle’s KEXP.

For an hour-long, paper-themed musical adventure, crank this up:

PBN 118: Paper and Fire.
January 2023.

Listen or Download the MP3. 56 minutes. 128 Kbps.
View or Download the playlist.