There’s a Coal Mine under my Freeway!

You read that right. Time has almost erased any remnant of the Renton Coal Mine that was a major force in Renton about 100 years ago.

When I heard that there is actually a ruin still in existence, I got really excited. Then I had to find it and go see it. Seeing this piece of history is not as simple as it used to be. Here is my adventure and a flash to the past all in one place.

What is this relic I am seeking? It is the foundation of the hoist that pulled the coal carts out of the mine. The buildings and the mine are in the dust of time but this hunk of concrete still exists.  To give you some perspective, here is the Renton Coal Mine in all its industrial glory.

Renton Coal Mine – over 100 years ago – The view is facing west – thank you to Black Diamond Now for this photo

My adventure started at the City of Renton Townhall. It was a quiet Sunday and I parked near the front door. No need to worry about my car being stolen or broken into because there was several policeman hanging out since it is their shop too.

I started here – Renton City Hall

One cannot just drive and park next to the last piece of the mine. No wonder most folks have no idea what it is.  From the parking lot I trekked up Benson Road South, passed under the off ramp from I-405 and came upon it.

Looking back at city hall that I just left (my car is the bright orange one). The off ramp is behind me.
On Benson Rd going under the freeway off ramp.
Looking back North towards city hall and the off ramp
Benson Road South with cars whizzing by me
There it is.. first sight of the hoist foundation – nothing fancy!

Then I was there. It sits between the Benson, the off ramp and the Freeway is close by.


Renton Coal Mine hoist foundation – imagine how much coal this hauled out!

At this point I took a video which will give you a better view of how it sits, help you imagine what it must have been and see what it is now.

The next series of photos document all the sides and angles of this historical ruin. I basically walked down from the southern side and snapped away with my camera.

West side is open and the homeless have found it makes good shelter
North side there are two memorial plaques
Northeast corner shows how much concrete this is. It had to hold a lot of weight.
East side shows all the big bolts
South side of the relic from our distant past.

The two memorials on the north side can only really be seen if you walk up to the memorial or go really slow on the Benson. I don’t think you can see them from the off ramp.

Memorial telling the story of the Renton Coal Mine.
Renton City Centennial plaque.

Check out the big bolts it took to secure the machinery to this hunk of concrete!

Super close up to spark your imagination and understand what it did.

Next you need to get your imagination going and think about what it must have been before.

How the hoist lined up to the mine entrance, now under the I-405. It must be to the right of the orange construction sign.
There is a coal mine entrance right under that freeway!
1963 – Renton Coal Mine exposed during original construction of the Freeway I-405

The article this photo was published in back in the 60’s stated that the entrance was full of coal cars, fencing, and general junk. If you look close you can see how it was draining water out.

I wasn’t done yet. I walked back to my car and drove over the freeway to Historic Renton Hill which was due east of the mine entrance. It has a good over view of the whole area.

This is a community of some of the oldest homes and some of the newest too. Imagine knowing your home is built over an old mine. Need I say more about what can happen if the ground collapses below you?

From a view-point above the hoist you can see exactly how this all worked. The next three photos will give you a perspective on just how that mine entrance is truly under the freeway. Plus go back to the old photo of the Coal Mine Plant and see the now and then of the whole thing.

We are facing west just like the old photo. Lot has changed. Look for the red car right where the Benson goes out of sight. There is the hoist ruin
If you couldn’t see it on the first photo, this closer view should do it for you. Plus go back to the distant one now and see if you can see it.
Zoomed in from atop Renton Hill – there it is sitting somewhat neglected

What can I say but time changes all. Not just our technology, but what we value, how we made our machinery operate and how in a blink of this world’s eye it can all be gone.



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