Considered to be the oldest mining town in the state, Liberty’s history can be traced back to 1867 when a small amount of gold was first discovered in the area by Newton and Benton Goodwin. The brother’s moved on and spent some time prospecting in nearby areas before passing by again in 1873. This time they struck it rich. Word of the brother’s find quickly spread, causing a mini gold rush in the area. By 1876 many miners that had rushed to the Liberty area had left for gold rushes in other states, but many local families that had homesteaded in the area stayed on.
The population that eventually became the town of Liberty was originally located around a spot where two gold-bearing creeks converged. When a local miner named Thomas Meagher built a cabin and established a store a couple miles east of that convergence most of the residential activity was relocated to be closer to the store. The resulting town became known as Meaghersville. In 1890 the miners built a wagon road to improve access to the town. In 1892 a post office was established. The citizens wanted to officially name the town Swauk after nearby Swauk Creek, but the US Postal Service denied the name fearing that it would be confused with the already established Sauk Post Office. At a town meeting the miners eventually settled on calling their new town Liberty.
Eventually gold deposits in the Liberty area began to dwindle and people began to leave to seek their fortunes elsewhere. However the town still has a small population of residents today, making Liberty what is referred to as a “living ghost town”. There is still some gold to be found around Liberty and mining activity has continued in the area to the present day.
The gold in the Liberty area is unique. Not only does it occur as lode gold (microscopic amounts of gold mixed with rock and other minerals) that is mined from hard rock mines, it is also found in streams in a crystalline form called wire gold, and in nugget form.
In 1974 the town of Liberty was added to the National Register of Historic Places. There are many historic buildings in the town that can be seen and photographed as well as interpretive signs and displays of mining equipment from the towns distant past. There is no formal trail through Liberty, but the open landscape makes it easy to navigate. Since it begins by the roadside, it’s a perfect exploration for all ages and abilities. If you visit, be sure to respect the private property of those still living in this historic town.
Liberty Ghost Town
- 1.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 50 feet
- Highest Point
- 2,682 feet
Hiking Liberty Ghost Town
Liberty Ghost Town
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.2530, -120.6702 Open in Google Maps