To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.

In the woods of King County, just miles from Black Diamond, Washington, a trail weaves through looming trees. Creeping vines and moss seem to lay claim to everything, but a few trail signs point the way toward an abandoned town, seemingly forgotten in the damp, moody forest.

When you see the mine cart, often marked with graffiti, you know you're heading the right way.

Franklin, WA Mine Cart
Nicole Sisson (via YouTube)

This is the path to Franklin, Washington - one of Washington's many ghost towns. Established in the 1880s, Franklin was built around coal mines, meant to supply the relatively young American West and its growing coastal cities. In sixty years, the town would be empty.

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60 years is still a lot of time to create history, and Franklin was no exception. In 1891, a riot broke out due to labor strikes and racial tension, leading to a day locally known as "The Day of Black Terror." Three years later, an arsonist set fire to the mines of Oregon Improvement Co., killing 37 - the worst mine disaster in the county. In 1914, a cave in left one man dead and another buried underground for a week.

Even after the town was abandoned, Franklin's mines offered decades of storied history.

But first, and foremost, Franklin was still a town - a town where locals, immigrants, and free black people came to work and build a life. With life - and with a coal mine - comes death. With death, comes graves.

Franklin does not have a dedicated graveyard; however, many of its buried residents remain. Visitors and descendants still visit these gravestones, leaving flowers, coins, and tokens of remembrance.

Here are some of the graves left behind, as one explorer documented on YouTube.

Ghost Town Cemetary of Franklin, Washington

Deep in the woods near Black Diamond, Washington, is the town of Franklin, Washington - long abandoned and now overgrown. Hidden in those woods, for those who seek them, are the graves of people long departed.

Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton

If you choose to visit Franklin, remember to come with respect and reverence. It may be a ghost town, but it has not been forgotten - and remains an important piece of Washington State history.

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Looking to see a piece of history? Pack up for a road trip and check out these Washington ghost towns.

Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals

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