About 6 weeks ago long before the COVID-19 Stay at Home orders came out I went in search of the Red Devil/Fire King Coal Mine. This is the third article on this mine and it is focused on the Strip Mine area worked in the mid-1940’s. I previously had pinpointed the Woodside Commons Park as that restored site. (photo above of playground)
To get you caught up on my quest here are the two articles about this long gone coal operation.
The first was about how I pinpointed where the mine was. It includes all the maps used to get to my conclusions. The link to that is Red Devil Coal Mine – Where are You?
The second one was boots on the ground investigation of the Fairwood Park side of the operation. I spent a lot of work trying to align the houses that exist today with a 1979 Seattle Times photo. It was part of an article of when they found the vent shaft while building this development. The link to this is Red Devil Coal Mine – Fairwood Park Boots on Ground
Here is the Seattle Times photo for quick reference:
The stage is now set for the third chapter in my Red Devil Adventure and Investigation – the Strip Mine.
An open strip mine was not just a tunnel coal mine where they cut into a hill going down into the coal vein. The pit mine is where someone scraped the easy picking coal right off the surface. How do you hide this kind of earth disturbance and can they build on top of it? A tunnel type mine is usually non-existent at this point since it is filled in for safety reasons. Strip mining is so much more visible and hard to hide the scaring it puts on the land.
In the “Where are You?” post I outlined how it was so obvious that the Woodside Commons Park is the Red Devil Strip Mine. Let us go into a deep look by using my maps. That will help you follow what it looks like today.
First here is the map from Washington State Coal Mine Archives of K40B.
Compare this to the Google Satellite view of this area today.
To help us compare the before and after I created a side by side clip.
Can you see it? Eureka!! The park is where the strip mine was and the big track of undeveloped land to the left of the park is the Operations Yard.
Are you ready to see what I found? Lets get going!!
The park is a long area of grass, picnic tables, playground equipment and areas for families of Woodside to enjoy the outdoors. The land is hilly and the park sits up above some of the homes. It also has a row of houses right on the south side which appears to be the edge of the strip mine itself. Here are the photos and some video of what I found. They tell the story better than my words and the google map.
In the distance of this photo above is the treed park. See how the houses built in 2002 are all around the strip mine.
On the left you can see the row of houses I mentioned. Off to the right down the hill is where the gas pipeline lays. I am pretty sure this pipeline follows along the road that came into the mine 70 plus years ago.
I took two videos in the park that give you a much better perspective of how things look. Check them out.
Back to the Pipeline trail that was a road.
This photo is looking Northeast. The next one looks Southwest showing more of the right-away and the tops of houses in the other development (Fairwood Park).
Not only are you looking back towards the mine shafts area but in the upper right corner of the photo is the mine operations area. I think that street cuts through part of the strip mine.
Our next area moves over to where you see that street sign. There I found a small creek in a ravine with lots of blackberries and brush. Coal Mining needs water to process the coal and the Coal Wash Plant was close to this area. There is a bluff on the west side of the street with views into the wooded lot where the Operations Yard was.
I wandered around the edge of the area here pondering if the hoist was still in that brier tangle. To go dig in there would be a real effort and I was not prepared to get scratched and poked so decided this side was not the way.
On my way back towards the pipeline lawn I kicked the grass edge and found what I call the proof of the mine. COAL chunks!!!
First I noticed this black speckled dirt.
Check out that little lump I put up on a rock for you to see. If I find nothing else, at least the proof is in the coal.
Wow that was a rush to find a piece of coal. This place is so cleaned up I was not expecting that. After that I moved to the south side of the wooded area that is part of the pipeline right-away. It is beautiful grass with a few signs stating not to dig. Plus it backs up against the Fairwood bubble houses.
More video so you can see the lay of the land over on this side.
I found the other side of the fence where two yellow houses are on the Fairwood Park side of the operation. I think where I am standing in this next photo, I am over where the exhaust shaft that I mentioned in my prior post.
The bubble in 163rd is over the fence where the plastic cover is. To the left of the photo is a small grove of trees at the edge of the wooded lot. These next photos give you an idea of how this looks.
This is where I decided that I could enter the area because the brambles were less dense. I was still on my quest to find the old hoist. Those old hoists are usually a really big chunk of concrete that if anything survives they do. Example being Renton Coal Mine Hoist which is still around stuck between a freeway and off-ramp.
It was tough going even with my pruning shears. I found an old sign that says this is a protected wildlife area. Ha!! They just want people to stay out of this place that was a mining operation.
Then I saw it!! Big metal thing.
What is this big thing. A coal car? A truck bed? Part of the Wash Plant or Bunker?
Found some other stuff. Perhaps old fencing from the mine or posts from when they first cleaned up the land and made this no-man’s land.
Also I found what I think is a truck mud flap. Well… I assume that is what it is. Again it is from a time before the houses were built. Did not find the hoist cement block but that search did lead me to other proof. Serendipity is like that!
That’s it!! I found remnants of another Coal Mine and even some coal to prove I was on the right spot.
Back to thinking about how much things have changed around the Red Devil Coal Mine since 1946. In 74 years our whole Puget Sound area has gone from a backwater town way up in the corner of the USA to a mega city that is attracting more residents as I type this. Most people living around the Red Devil don’t even know there are tunnels below their feet or their park was a coal strip mine. That is how much the land has been changed by man.
As spring progresses with nicer weather I will move to researching the Jones Mine and what was a test hole for the New Black Diamond Mine. That little map of trails around Spring Lake and Lake Desire I found months ago will keep giving clues to find more coal mines.
Want to see more of my coal mine research and finds? Here are the links to those previous adventures: