This is a directory of blog links of my searches for Lost Coal Mines around the Seattle area. Hard to believe 100 years ago we had a booming mineral extraction business here. Now these old mines are buried and long forgotten.
It all started with my fascination at Cougar Mountain Regional Park. This wonderful wilderness on the east side sits is on top of where a small town and multiple mines existed. Next to nothing is left of them except old pictures and the rare piece of preserved things. That ranges from a stray piece of black gold on the ground to an actually sealed mine entrance.
Often all that is left is a huge lump of old concrete. These blocks of moss covered cement are usually hoist foundations. They held the huge machines that pulled the coal, miners and equipment with steel cables out of the mines.
My quest to find these old relics of our past is not over & I will update this directory as I add more mine finds. I appreciate any input or tips you might have or just a bit of commiserating with me at how time changes our landscape so completely.
This directory article has become a bit cumbersome. Here is a little index of the topics in the order they are below:
- Cougar Mountain, Coal Creek Coal Mines, Newcastle Washington
- Renton Coal Mine – under I-405
- Franklin – Ghost Town, Mines & Cemetery
- How to find a Coal mine – Smaller mines on the east hill behind Renton – New Lake Youngs, Spring Glen or Starkovitch, Springbrook, Red Devil/Fire King
- Tiger Mountain Coal Mines – Caroline & Bear Creek Yards
- New Black Diamond, Indian Coal Mine & Jones Brothers
- Cedar Mountain – Ghost Town and Mines
This blog post was called “Coal Creek Mine Ruins – 100 years later”. It started out as a hike to see Coal Creek Waterfall in the spring of 2017. Then I tripped upon the history that surrounds this park on the edge of Seattle. Once hundreds of people lived and work to pull coal from the ground here. This post starts with the natural part and ends with how I became fascinated by this concept of what a 100 years does to the land.
This blog post was called “Time – A Conundrum”. I returned later in 2017 to document the Ford Slope Mine and how we have forgotten that mother nature is the one in charge. No matter that we are buried in social media of today, nature is busy putting things back the way she wants it. That includes this once busy industrial intensive coal mine of 100 years ago.
A trip I did in 2017 but did not become important until I read about it on Facebook in the Ghost Town Lovers group. Went thru a little gate and checked out this shack that rumor has it sits on the foundation from the company store. Plus piles of old red brick that we think are a foundation for a Generator House.
A recent adventure where my partner in crime Alan pointed me towards where the Coal Creek Hotel dumped their trash. Found pottery and bottles dating about 100 years old. Check out how things were just tossed down the hillside for us to find.
This was a revisit in 2021 of this old shack and the brick foundations around it. We dig deep into the history and where and what these relics came from. Was the shack a reclaimed building from the old coal mine camp? Was it put on a foundation from the old company store? And what a work of art these red brick footings are. Lot to explore in history here.
You read that right. In 1963 when they built I-405 close to the S curves they found the old mine entrance which they sealed up forever under our freeway. This post is about the one thing left from the Renton Coal Mine; The Hoist. Plus if you align yourself right you can imagine how this industrial endeavor stretched under the current freeway and down where the old Sam’s Club was built.
Summer of 2018 I hiked up to the old site of Franklin, Washington. This is not only a 3 part series of the mines but also of the town of hundreds that is no more.
Before I got to the actual town site I walked down a side road. So glad I did because I came to the river and found where one of the mines had been dug into the side of the river gorge. Plus a bonus sighting of a little bird called a Dipper.
This is where the rubber meets the trail and I tell you about what I found where the town used to be. I wrote a pretty profound thing that is relevant to today’s COVID-19 Stay at Home or any time in our lives when we feel stuck.
When you find yourself losing faith that life is stuck in some shallow place or you can’t quite imagine how things will change or you are wondering when will Lady Luck or the Devil tear at the fabric of your lives. This is when change happens.
It is only right that this is the third and final installment of my Franklin “the Ghost Town” adventure. I have to say I got more than I bargained for. My experience was memorable and made me respectful of things we don’t understand. A ghost town is not named just because it was something in the past. It can harbor things that do not want to let go of what was.
Moving on to the summer of 2019. I had retired with more time to go dig around for old coal mines. That is where my research took me to the hill area above Valley General Hospital and the smaller family run mines.
After my experiences with Franklin and Coal Creek I wanted more adventure. This post documents my search for a mine named New Lake Youngs Mine that my friend Jeff at work told me about. It was not as easy as it was for the larger mines where there is something left. It required several visits and a lot more research using multiple maps and digging around. Hence, how do you find an Old Coal Mine.
This is about some more investigative adventure around the two smaller mines – The Wilson & the Starkovitch Mines. Again, not as conclusive but just as satisfying trying to figure out from old maps where these coal mines were and what is on top of them now.
Spring Glen/Starkovitch Coal Mine – How to Find a Mine V3 – It always seems so easy on paper. I had to go back to the site of the Spring Glen Coal Mine with a lot more info and a pair of clippers to attack the blackberry brambles.
I was going to work on the mines around Talbot Road but was distracted by a bit of serendipity. I had found a map of the Lake Desire & Spring Lake hiking area. With that map in hand I opened up the Washington State Coal Mine Map Collection. OH Boy…. Did I need all my How to Find A Coal Mine experience to sort the Red Devil/Fire King Mine. This post goes into detail on how I align the old and new maps to plan my trip to the actual site.
I split the Red Devil / Fire King into two blog articles. The mine activity crossed over between two housing developments plus this mine not only had a slope mine but also a surface mine. This first one is about the search for the mine and the houses involved when the contractor finds the old mine by accident. Told you we forget about these old mines and most that live on top of them have not a clue.
This is about the Woodside Commons Park that was once a Coal surface strip mine. Plus how I found some remnants of the mine operations area where they had the bunker & washing plants. Oh and I found coal!! That is always a huge success moment.
Come with me to the Southwest corner of Tiger Mountain Forest. There around 1920 to 1940 several coal mines were developed. A nature trail along Fifteenmile Creek is dotted by the remains of them. See what I find there and read up on the odd history related to this area. The 1930s had a stock scam and a high profile kidnapping touch this area too.
This was the last hooray for the Pacific Coast Coal Company after Mine #11 in Black Diamond became too dangerous. It was located on the Renton-Maple Valley Highway near the Cedar River. Many drive by the property everyday and have no idea this huge coal mining complex existed there. It failed due to how the changing times came quickly (Oil killed Coal), mine danger, errors in prospecting for new coal mines, ineptness and greed in the company that owned the mines, and how the land was not respected.
The Jones Brothers around 1919 started looking for a coal seam on top of Cedar Mountain. The theory was the McKay seam from Black Diamond, Franklin and Ravensdale continued west towards Renton. They pushed a slope mine up by Lake Desire and found two seams. In 1920 Pacific Coast Coal Company bought them out and built the Indian Coal Mine. This is the first of several articles following my many visits to unravel what is left 100 years ago around their operation. It all starts with finding the “The Hole”.
This is my second article on the Jones Brothers Coal Mine up on the hill above the main Indian Coal Mine Complex (aka New Black Diamond). My goal this time was to get a better feel for the area and sort out what the “The Hole” used to be. Was it the Water Tank or the Fan House? Then I took a side trip to where in 1940 Pacific Coast Coal mined the edge of the coal seam. The coal map called it the Crop Coal Slope.
The third trip to the Jones Slope was to search for the Hoist. It took some fancy map math, serendipity, luck and magic that I actually found the 100 year old hoist foundation. This find is one of my biggest ever and I walk around my house still saying… “I found the Hoist!”
In late June I returned for a 4th time to the Jones Slope to locate where the mine entrance used to be. This was an exercise in bushwhacking into the middle of a boggy brier patch. This is not as exciting as finding the hoist since technically there is no big hole in the ground to crow over. However, all the data points to the spot I got to is where the slope pushed down into the ground.
My second investigation of the Jones Slope Coal Mine Hoist that I found in June 2020. I got a little more scientific and marked the 4 corners with red yarn flags. Then made a video of who it looks. That sure helped get a better perspective of its size and shape. Plus unearthed more of the edge exposing a section of the concrete.
Why would someone research a family you are not related to? That is the rabbit hole I went down after spending so much time on the New Black Diamond aka Indian Coal Mine and Jones Slope. The final straw was the picture of two Jones Brothers and the mystery of which one is on the left. It is Tom on the right for sure but I still am working on who else is in the opening day photo. Is it Ed or Ben? Come with me on a tale of a pioneer family with grit who struck it rich.
Two months after my search for the Main Mine Tunnel Entrance to the NBD Coal Mine I returned. This time I was better equipped with snipers and hiking boots. Found the entrance at the top of a rocky stream bed that had carved a ravine out of the hill side. Water from heavy rains and potentially the mine have moved a lot of soil and made finding this entrance even more difficult. Come with me on that adventure into the wild to get the job done.
The first chapter of my search for the remnants of the Cedar Mountain Coal Mines and the town that formed there. The town is now erased but one can find parts of the mines still. This mine dates back to the 1870s and includes several mine entrances/slopes, lots of players and companies. This seam of coal after 20 years got lost due to a fault in the ground. Searching decades later find coal again and spawn a reopening of this mine and the founding of the New Black Diamond Coal Mine.
Cedar Mountain aka West Coast Coal Mine east of the Cedar River poses a challenge. There are no direct roads to area of the mine entrance. It is bordered by a river, a quarry with tall cliffs down to the river, power transmission lines, Cedar Grove Composting and the very large Cedar Hills Regional Landfill. Follow my adventures to get boots on the ground and my ultimate decision guided by safety concerns.
Times were turbulent in the 1890s. They remind me of today in many ways. The coal mine at Cedar Mountain had to be impacted by the forces that swirled at the time. We left off in our last articles with photos of the first mine entrance at the intersection of 196th and Maple Valley Highway. Then we moved to my many attempts to reach the second across the river. Now we are going to focus on how they ended up digging the third on the highway side of the river.
The story of Cedar Mountain Coal (aka West Coast Coal Mine) became murky after the third slope closed in 1906. That dang fault seemed unsurmountable so most moved away to where the coal was easier to find and mine. This article talks about the two groups, Jones & McQuade, searched for the lost vein. Plus what I found when I went searching for two mine entrances (#4 & #5 Cedar Mtn) that are east of the Jones Slope.
The return of coal mining at Cedar Mountain (aka West Coast Coal) in the 1920’s was brought about by a mysterious figure. His name was John “Jack” McQuade. Are you ready for his story and a deeper investigation into his importance to the area?
It is the final piece of the chronological history of the Cedar Mountain Mines. McQuade, Pacific Coast Coal, E.R. Peoples and his nephew Ed Littlefield all play a part in this chapter. It covers from the mid 1920s till the mines closure in 1944. Plus a little history on the final owners.
We got super excited when the PNW Railroad Archives found this photo for us. At the time it was only the second one we had ever seen of the old Cedar Mountain Town. Come along on my research to determine where this depot was. It burned down in 1933 so it has become a mystery.
This article covers new maps around how the old wagon road and the railroad meandered through Cedar Mountain. Add to this some new photos that surfaced of Cedar Mountain Town and the Bunker structure where the first mine was located.
Found some great new relics and clues as I search for the 3rd Cedar Mountain mine entrance. The one that was sunk at the tail end of the 19th century. Not only investigated the hanging rail but also more carved out roadways, steel cables left behind and where is that lost mine entrance.
Went back to look at the McQuade slope and found another mine entrance of interest to search for. It is right near where I have been looking along the gas pipeline right-a-way. Discovered some other interesting items, viewed what I call the dimples aka sink holes and hole in sandstone cliff (nature or man-made?). More questions than answers!!
There is a ghost town in our midst. Some of us drive by her everyday and some have been seeking her for decades. Come with me on my quest to find Cedar Mountain. She is under our urban noses but difficult to find since she was razed decades ago. There are even differing opinions on where this town in the photo was located. In this article I will lay out my theory on where she once stood and share what I found on-site.
Another lover and seeker of Cedar Mountain, Dow D., contacted me about the Scale House from the 1930s. He had new information after speaking with a local resident walking his dog at the site which currently is Belmondo’s Reach King County Park. We got together and started to dig out what had been hiding under leaves and plants right at the edge of the parking lot. Who would have thought it was there all along?
This article pinpoints the location of the Cedar Mountain Railroad Depot. Again, Dow D brings to the table information that breaks the mystery. He shared railroad charts and timetables along with his deep understanding of the ways of railroading. Add to this a new 1907 map I discovered that gives us a clear picture of how Cedar Mountain looked more than a century ago. Great breakthrough!!
Come with me on the search for a lost road and cemetery across the bridge from Cedar Mountain area. It talks about the burial of a Cedar Mountain resident killed in a mine accident buried in an unknown place. How that search brought me to a road that went up the hill to Lake Kathleen and McDonald starting in the late 1880s. Decades later it became too steep, narrow and some of it even collapsed down the steep hillside. Still some mysteries there to be visited again later.
This late summer the Cedar River was low enough to get a glimpse of the old pilings from the Coal Mine across the river there. They used to support a bridge which supported the hoist mechanics that pulled the coal cars from the mine. The article covers the old bridge, the hoist and the slag pile. Odd arrangement to have a river between the mine hoist and the actual entrance. But it worked for them.