Briscoe Park on the Green River

This week I walked another couple of miles of the Green River.  This is the piece south of Southcenter right where I left off a few weeks ago.  First thing I came to was a footbridge over the river to divert us to the east side of the Green River.

Then the trail winds along the river with modern warehouses on the land side.  Got to look at all the back doors and underbelly of them.   Here is a series of photos of how it all looked.

I had a little off-road moment by going down this trail that followed close to the side of the river. Not a lot to show for that little piece of the adventure except some nasty blackberry scratches on my calf.  However, it was fun in that I wondered more than once if I was going to have to back track before I found a way back to the trail.

Once I got back up on the trail it curved around to this park called Briscoe Park.  It was then I had a childhood memory.

You see I used to live on the hill to the West of this area.  In the mid 60s I would ride my bicycle down here in the valley.  It was easy to get down here but a hell of a push back up the hill.  The valley was very different 50 years ago.  It was farmland not warehouses and the roads were more like country two lanes than the crazy 4 to 6 lane busy highways of today.

One day I rode my bike down a small little road and came upon this building.

Briscoe School -Photo courtesy of Museum of History & Industry
Briscoe School -Photo courtesy of Museum of History & Industry

It creeped me out.  I didn’t know why but this place was so bad, I couldn’t pedal fast enough to get away.  Now as an adult I know it was an evil place.  In the last few years the Catholic church and the Christian Brothers had to settle lawsuits over abuse.

In the early 70s the land was sold and the buildings destroyed.  The actual place of the school is now under several warehouses.  The City of Kent took what one of the survivors called a small oasis they could go to.  It is a piece of land surrounded on three sides by the river.  I took a short video so you can see what the park is like. It is still not a very happy place.  I walked around and found the buildings kind of unkempt and a quiet hush over the area.

The area has a great view of Mt Rainier.  You can see in this photo how the area is all warehouses and commerce along the river that used to be the highway of old.  That river is now just a recreation place.

Mt Rainier view from old Briscoe Site
Mt Rainier view from old Briscoe Site

I left the trail at that point & decided to make my way back to my car via West Valley Highway.  I was curious about what my country road looked like now.  Here is a shot of 190th and WVH. Not the same or recognizable in any way.

190th Street - used to be a country road to Briscoe Memorial School.
190th Street – used to be a country road to Briscoe Memorial School.

I was rewarded and penalized for using WVH.  I found a baby crow who let me take his picture and his mom didn’t attack me either.

However, when I got close to the 180th bridge I needed to cross to get to my car, the sidewalks disappeared.  I sent the City of Kent an email on “what the heck”.  They claim to be a bicycle and pedestrian friendly place.  I walked on the river side of a jersey barrier.  Big trucks whizzed by and I had to turn away so not to be blown over or sandblasted.  Not heard back from them yet.

No sidewalk on West Valley Highway south of 180th.
No sidewalk on West Valley Highway south of 180th.

Here was the bridge I finally made it to.  Got home safe and sound after an afternoon adventure.

180th Street Bridge viewed from the South
180th Street Bridge viewed from the South



  1. I have to comment on my own post today. The Archdiocese has revealed along list of abusers and many came from Briscoe Memorial School. This re-enforces how we must pay attention to our inner selves. As a child I knew this was a very bad place.

    Years later it is just as hard to hear that inner voice that is often shouted out by all the noise our technology screams at us.

    Be safe and listen closely. You could change a life.

  2. I walked this park everyday when I worked at a business nearby. I had no idea of the history, thanks for this! The Mt Rainier view is great!

  3. I was there from 1952-1954 my aunt used to tell my mother that it was a bad place. I used to get strapped a lot. I would write my mother saying how bad it was no one listens. By the way that area on the river, we called that ten acres.

    • Thank you for your remarks. My heart goes out to you and I can’t truly understand how that place must haunt so many. I am a believer in history and making sure we explore it so we don’t repeat the bad things. Or at least try. Take care my friend.

    • Yes I’m so glad to have made this connection. I was at Briscoe from 1956-1959. Most parents didnt beehive what went on there. I remember ten acres too. It’s good to see the Green River but 10 acres was heavily wooded back then.

      • Hard to think decades ago that in the future it would be bulldozed down to nothing and we would be reminding people of what it was. Hope that gives you some peace that those Brothers found karma. I can not imagine the pain that was doled out there. Take care!! Batgirl

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