Locating Lost Old Coal Mines of King County

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
  • New Black Diamond, Indian Coal Mine & Jones Brothers
  • Cedar Mountain – Ghost Town and Mines

First Coal Mine Moment – Cougar Mountain Regional Park in Newcastle

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.

Second Visit to Cougar Mountain Park

See the “Big H”? We are going there

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.

Thru the Gate to History

The shack and red brick pile above the Coal Creek ravine

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.

Coal Creek Hotel Trash

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.

There’s a Coal Mine Under my Freeway

1963 – Renton Coal Mine exposed during original construction of the Freeway I-405

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.

Franklin Coal Mine on Green River

Up close of the coal car in Green River

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.

Franklin Town site and Old Foundations

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.

Franklin Ghost Town Cemetery

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.

How to Find an Old Coal Mine

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.

More Coal Mines to be Found

Spring Glen or Starkovitch Coal Mine map from DNR

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.

Red Devil Coal Mine – Where are YOU?

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.

Red Devil Coal Mine – Fairwood Park Boots on Ground

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 shaft mine but also a surface mine.  This first one is about the search for the shaft 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.

Red Devil Coal Strip Mine – Quest to Find

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.

New Black Diamond aka Indian Coal Mine Big & Messy

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.

Jones Brothers Coal Mine – Beginning of Indian Mine

Jones Mine Complex (aka Indian or New Black Diamond Coal Mine) – Mystery of “The Hole”

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 shaft 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”.

Jones Slope Coal Mine – Widening my Search

Crop Coal mined down this little road

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.

Jones Brothers & Indian Coal Mine – Hoist Search

With Map Scale I calculated how far apart the Jones Slope Structures were

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!”

Jones Brothers Slope Mine Entrance – Where are You?

The middle of a brier patch is where the entrance now resides

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.

Jones Slope Hoist – Deeper Investigation

Exposed cement – stick is where a corner of the solid slab meets the curbed edge

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.

Jones Brothers – Story behind the Mine

Jones Brothers posing at their mine entrance at the 1925 Opening – Thanx Liz at Renton History Museum for sending better photo!

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.

New Black Diamond Coal Mine – Mine Entrance Search Round Two

This is the mine entrance or where it is behind dirt, rock and logs.

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.

Cedar Mountain Coal Mine – The Tangled Web

The first chapter of my search for the remnants of the Cedar Mountain Coal Mine shafts 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 shafts, 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.

Quest for Mine Entrance – Cedar Mountain Coal Mine

The West Coast (aka Cedar Mountain) Coal Mine area from Cedar River Trail

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.

Turn of the Century and Cedar Mountain Coal Mine

Yup!! There are two and that means a rail track was here

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 shaft at the intersection of 196th and Maple Valley Highway. Then we moved to my many attempts to reach the second shaft across the river. Now we are going to focus on how they ended up digging the third shaft on the highway side of the river.

For a Decade Cedar Mountain Fades Away

Sink hole on east side of 194th Ave SE – McQuade Slope I bet

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.

Cedar Mountain Coal Revival

Issaquah History Museum Photo – McQuade is on the right

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?

Finale Dance of Cedar Mountain Coal

Updated – Over view map to give you the lay of the land of Cedar Mtn Town & Mines.

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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.