Jones Brothers Coal Mine – Beginning of Indian Mine

The Jones Mine site has been a big puzzle and great adventure for me. I visited the area four times (in 6 weeks) and have gathered a great amount of material to share with you. I am going to organize things in order of my visits and finds so you can have a reality show experience of the discoveries.  Here we go starting with a quick overview and then my initial visit on May 19th.

Technically this mine was Jones and Cedar Mountain Coal Properties that the three brothers Ed, Tom & Ben sold to Pacific Coast Coal Company. Best I can tell they did the prospecting and dug some initial mines around 1919. The maps for K41 found on the Washington DNR Coal Mine collection start in 1920 and were produced by Pacific Coast Coal. This matches the timing of an article in August 1920 Seattle Times says PCCC had bought the John Campion and Jones Brothers properties. Plus they acquired the Laloli  Farm down at river level for their processing complex. It said the combined area would be called Indian Coal Mine (aka New Black Diamond – K38)

To give you some perspective on how they played in the bigger mine here are two map snips.  First is a current map of the area with the overall New Black Diamond composite map layered over it.

Coal Mine Map K38-A from 1931 over-layed on top of a current map with section lines
Jones Mine Complex – this is the area I am zeroing in on.

Black Diamond History mentions the brothers in an article celebrating the opening of the New Black Diamond Mine (aka Indian Mine).  That article was published in the October 1925 Pacific Coast Bulletin. The mine was not really open to business but rather they had connected the two mine shafts.  One was the old Jones Slope on top of the hill and the other was a tunnel drove into the hill from the Cedar River valley where a railroad could move the coal out.  Here is a link to that post by Black Diamond History Blog – New Black Diamond Mine Opens.

You can also read more about the Indian Mine (aka New Black Diamond) in a prior post I did around their major complex down on Renton Maple Valley Highway. Indian Coal Mine – Big & Messy

This recent mine search started with the “Special Map” I found on a trail head. It is the Spring Lake/Lake Desire park map published by King County. It was a great tool that I could use in conjunction with the old DNR Coal Mine Maps of the area.

I had gone on a short walk through McGarvey Park Open Space and was in heaven that I had found it.  When I got home I marked it up with the mines in the area and decided to pursue the Red Devil/Fire King Mine (K40).  Here is a link to the first of the articles on that search. Red Devil Search


The special MAP!!

Back to Jones …  on this map I have it marked with a dot & K41 about center of the map below.  Off to the side in the Wetland 14 Natural Area is K38 the New Black Diamond Mine.

I keep throwing out those KXX numbers forgetting not everyone has read my prior posts.  That is the numbering system the Washington State Department of Resources uses to inventory coal mines.

Map with locations of old Coal Mines I am seeking

It takes a bit to untangle why the state put these locations on the Coal Mine Map master.  Take another look at my old and new map overlay and you can see the Indian Mine is very large and the entrance down on Cedar River is a long ways from where the actual coal was. Hence the state picked where they thought the coal seams were located.

It will make a bit more sense as you follow my visits and discoveries.  Off we go for my first serious visit on May 19, 2020. I plotted out that I would go see Wetland 14 (K38 spot) and northwest of Lake Desire’s boat launch marked as K41.

Magic Garden

With excitement I started down the gated gravel road to my first destination – Wetland 14 Natural Area. This is the area where the DNR Coal Mine Map Master has a dot for the New Black Diamond Mine…  aka Indian Mine or K-38. There are 23 maps listed for this mine which is a lot more than previous mines I have investigated. I had poured over these maps to see if I could find an entrance or slope.  To my dismay I did not find an obvious opening.

Remember this was back in May and I was only at the beginning of the adventure. Since then I have researched for days pouring over maps (Coal Mine, USGS, Park & Road types) plus read a lot of articles online and in books I own. At the time I visited this spot I thought I had just missed the mystery hole so went there to see for myself what was going on.

Buzzing Power Lines on the way to Wetland 14 quest

The dirt road followed a power line right-away full of walking metal giants emitting a low humming buzz sound.  As I walked away from them and rounded a bend, what I saw next was not expected!  It was flowers.

Entrance to what I call “The Magic Garden”

It became clear to me that this once was someone’s home for many years. The house might have been gone but their garden was in full bloom next to a peaceful little lake/marsh. My video below was taken next to that bright red rhododendron bush in the photo above.  Check out the beaver lodge!

Looking around I found where the house had been and a garden gone wild.

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Back to my mission of lost coal mine searching.  I went about circling the property. Along the edges of the flowering paradise I found some not so pretty places. Years ago someone dug canals to drain the lake/marsh. They are forbidding, dark and stagnate.

It appeared to me that someone recently had slowed down the drainage of this area.  It was more of a lake now than the wetland on my King County Park map depicted. That map shows this wetland flowed into another wetland north of Lake Desire and eventually into the Lake itself. Could it be to control flow from the major rains and potentially flooding Lake Desire this winter?

Deep canals dug that looked black and ominous.
Deep Dark Drainage Ditch from Wetland 14

I found a trail on the south side of the property behind the old house site. Down that trail I discovered a few interesting things.

Old Metal close to the man-made drainage ditch behind the Magic Garden

Rusty metal parts just laying in the weeds is a sign that man was here many years ago. Perhaps the homeowner? Perhaps old miners? Perhaps bootleggers?  One’s imagination can get carried away but no matter who left this to rust, it is still here to say something long ago happened in the area.

Next I came closer to where this little trail meets two formal trails called McGarvey East & Echo Quarry Trails and a bridge over the black canal.

Formal signage next to the bridge
The Bridge – a good landmark for future reference

The bridge is noted on the Spring Lake/Lake Desire Map if you want to check that out above. The picture looks towards where the next couple of photos were shot.  First let us look at how dark and slow the drainage is here.

Not nice creek or drainage ditch. You pick which to call it.

Then we have the mining evidence. A big chunk out of the landscape and an even bigger and deeper hole.

Carved out of the landscape next to the trail was this area. I equate this to a double car garage as it was flat with the trail but had sides on it. Why?

Yes Why?  Was this to turn around big equipment or trucks in the wilderness above a coal mine in the 1930’s & early 1940’s? Whatever it is, it was man-made not natural.

Speaking of un-natural – how about a hole in the woods.

Big Hole from Bridge side

And I mean a deep hole. Photos can not really demonstrate in the forest when the land goes up or down. The foliage gives it an illusion it is not what the eye sees in real life. I judge this hole to be about 30 feet deep at the least.

Deep hole on far side and where McGarvey meets Echo Quarry trail.

This pictures has a bit better perspective.  I have to warn everyone, do not go down into these holes. If they are a mine cave in or other mining hole it will be marshy and soft at the bottom. Imagine the earth swallowing you whole never to be seen again.

Researching the many maps of K38 I think I found where an air shaft could be what this is. Even more reason to not go into the hole. It was dug to provide air to the mine and these shafts usually go straight down.  That is unlike the slope shafts that are at an angle so things can be pulled up or down them.

I headed back to the Garden and my car. Upon my return to Wetland 14 Lake I encountered a pair of ladies with their kids playing on a swing in the flowers.  Hence I named this place Magic Garden.

One of the ladies gave me some tips on the Coal Mine search. She said that up next to the Power-line Trail close to Lake Desire I can find where the land is all dug up.  I should take the old dirt truck road off the trail and will find the hole that was left there from the mining.

Hot Dog!!  That is exactly the area I was going to next & now I have a clue plus first hand information.

Mine Area

My plan for the second stop was parking at the Lake Desire Boat Launch. This is a Washington State Park that requires a Discovery Pass which I have.  Picked this since I was not sure of parking up 174th Avenue SE.   I had opted for this and hoofed it up the street. Later on I would park closer to my destination but in May I did not know the lay of the land.

I followed my guides instructions and found the dirt road off the trail and to my delight I found what I call the “hole”.  The photo at the very top of this article is looking back towards the hole & dirt road. This spot will play a center role in my investigation of what I think is a special place in history.

Let us start up on the dirt road and how it connects to 174th with a row of boulders to block unauthorized vehicles.

Those rocks are the current gate to the Jones Mine Complex.

Words are not good at describing things so next I have a slide show and a video of the area. Sit back and inhale my excitement at finding something tangible from one of my “Lost Coal Mines”.

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Lot of questions running around in my head at this point. I have to confess this place haunts me at night. I wake up and can’t quit pondering what is what here. The place has never spooked me out but at times I think the ghosts of those who toiled here have guided me. Can’t explain it nor do I expect you to understand. Perhaps it is just man’s imprint on the earth.

Back to what I saw that first day. Across the road from “The Hole” is a clearing. What I mean by that is it is not covered in blackberries, ferns and general Pacific Northwest forest briar. Instead it was shielded by very tall grass, was mossy and had a few ferns and bushes.  One could walk around in it and there was a trail or two to follow.

The Clearing looking back thru grass at “The Hole”

Someone had been surveying the area and left red plastic tape on trees. Over on the hole side I saw notes about property lines. This is close to the edge of the King County Park property and the Christian School that is at the end of 174th.

As soon as I stepped through the tall grass I found coal. Eureka!!

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I widened my area of investigation by going back down the rocky road.  Here is a shot looking back at the area with the “The Hole” and the boulders blocking the road from 174th.

Looking back towards the mining area.

There on the road as it goes down a little slope to the Powerline trail I found more coal.

See the blackness?
Not just any dirt!! It is fine coal ground into the earth here.

Next I wandered around the trails a bit where I found two more interesting things.  First, I saw some blue paint next to the McGarvey Trail not far from the Y with the Powerline Trail.  Off into the bushes I went on a primitive trail it was marking.

There I found more holes in the earth. These are like the one over by the Magic Garden and are about 30 to 40 feet deep with trees laying in them and lots of brush. Had to use my pruning shears to work my way up close.

Deep Hole #1 back in the brush off trail
Hole or ditch #2 I found off trail

I have poured over the 23 online maps of K38 trying to figure out what this is.  The mine slope goes off towards this direction (in later articles you will hear more about this NE/SE line). My best guesses are that this was either a prospect hole or a collapse of one of the side shafts from the slope or airway tunnel.

Remember the original Jones mine is now 100 years old and these things do happen when the support beams rot or even an earthquake or two hit. (think the 2001 Nisqually 6.8 quake).  Again, do not go into mining holes!!  Super Dangerous.  Mine Gas could even get you besides being sucked into a shaft straight to hell.

My second find was up on Power-line Trail. I had walked up towards the lumbering metal power towers to see what things looked like up there. My instinct told me that a road must have gone that way to connect it to the main mining complex or just to get down off the hill a century ago.

Peaking out of the trail at the power line right of way

On my way back I noticed more black glistening.  This time it was a big hill on the side of the trail. A coal pile!!  More Eureka!!!

A pile of Black Gold

I went back up the rock road and cut into the brush to the opposite side of the pile from the trail. You see the trail side was covered in nettles. Yes my nemesis while going off trail.

There I found myself on top of a big waste pile.

Rock & Coal Waste Pile to the north of “The Hole”

Lastly I found more rusty metal. A big piece of pipe that went nowhere.

My foot and the rusty pipe up next to the coal pile (we will talk more about this pipe in the future)

That was it for my first day. I was jazzed up with all the things I had found. However, it was time to go.  Between the stinging nettles, blackberry thorns and a mosquito or two I was done!!

I have a lot more to share.  So, stay tuned for more investigations into the Jones Mining Complex and the Indian/New Black Diamond Coal Mine. I have visited the site several more times and am working on organizing all the info and pictures. Daily I seem to dig up more information online or from my contacts.

If you want to read more about my search for lost coal mines here is a link to my directory of articles.

Shoot me any questions or better yet any information you have to add. This is a never ending deep dig into 100 year old coal mine history.

Remember Times are a changing.  Blink and all will be changed.

Locating Lost Old Coal Mines of King County


    • Hi Robin,
      I have information from the McGarvey Open Space Plan regarding the Jones Coal Mine evidence. Please respond to this communication and I will give you details. I was informed of your work (which I find delightful and useful) from Bob Baker.

  1. I absolutely loved your post! I grew up at Lake Desire, and spent my teenage years exploring these trails.

    I do remember the open mine entrances around the Christian school, but they were filled in probably in the early 90s. When I was a teen, I searched the powerlines for remnants of the mines. Judging from your video, the old “Jones Complex” hole was a concrete loading platform leftover from the coal mines. I think I still have a home movie I filmed there as a teenager. The loading platform was still there last time I visited, maybe 5-6 years ago, so I’ll check and see if it was removed next time I’m at Lake Desire. But based on your video, it looks like it was removed.

    There used to also be a lot more coal on the ground. The trail and the hill across from the “Jones hole” was covered in coal.

    What you called the “Magic Garden” was a private residence acquired by King County just 1-2 years ago. I was able to find the sale on Zillow. I tried to explore the property once around maybe 2000 after I spotted the lake on MapQuest. An grizzled old guy on an ATV rode out and said it was his sister’s property and that UW was studying the pond, and that the pond was 2000 feet deep (probably a tall tale!). The ditches/channels have been there since my family moved to Lake Desire in 1987.

    I think you’d also enjoy exploring the Nike Missile site behind the Christian school. There was also an abandoned out-patient mental health center on the site, and as a teen I found medical records from the 80s left in a shed. Be warned this is private property, so use discretion if you decide to visit. There were some holes in the fence where one could slip in, but there was also an elderly caretaker who chased visitors off the property.

    • Hello back – so glad you enjoyed the articles on the Jones Mine. I am pretty sure that big hunk of cement that was in the now empty hole was a building for ventelation. What it did was connect to an entrance to the mine tunnels and had a big fan to expel the bad air or add clean air. I don’t think they ever used it to load coal. That would have happened at the mine entrance or down on Maple Valley Highway. That was the main complex connected to this Jones site via a long tunnel. They had a huge wash plant, bunker and loading equipment onto trains. Did you see my other articles on the Jones & New Black Diamond/Indian coal Mine? Lot of stuff to digest.

      Currently, I am researching the coal mines down on the Cedar River next to the Jones Bridge. Working with the local museums we are looking for an old graveyard. I know of one up on Sweeney road but can’t seem to find the one related to Cedar Mtn. Do you have any clues to help us?

      Thanx for the visit.

      • Have you tried the Maple Valley Historical Society? i have a picture of the camp/town of Cedar Mountain from them.

      • I have and I bet I have that picture too. It is from about 1889 or so. Also been working with Renton & Black Diamond. They are so helpful. Let me know if you ever have run into an overgrown cemetery. You will have lots of happy people. 🙂

      • I pulled a few screenshots from my teenage home movies I filmed in 2000. This is the concrete structure that was at the spot you marked Jones Slope Complex.

        This is what the trailhead looked off the road to the Christian school. This was a right off 174th, just before the school gate.

        Interesting to learn it was a ventilation structure! I was told as a child it was a loading dock, or perhaps that was just a youthful assumption.

        I haven’t read your other articles, but look forward to it. This subject has fascinated me since childhood since I felt fortunate to have some suburban ruins to explore. This particular post was linked in a Lake Desire FB group, which is how it came to my attention.

        I never came across any old graveyards in my explorations, but I never did find a way to get down to the Cedar River from the powerlines.

      • HI – check out this post & see if the graffeti covered concrete structure is the same one you are talking about? If it is then that is the fan house that they used to give ventalation to the coal mine way below the surface.

        Plus if you want to learn more about the site I wrote a bunch about the area. At the bottom is a directory article that lists all my coal mine & history investigations. Scroll down past Newcastle/Coal Creek, Franklin and some minor Renton mines. There you will see all the ones on this Jones area and Cedar Mountain.

        Thanx again and so happy you are enjoying this. I think Dorothy is the one who posted it on Lake Desire page. She sent me a long email too. 🙂

    • If you go to the Christian School property, be aware that the nike missile silos were filled with water many years ago to provide a water supply for fire protection for the school buildings.

      • wow – who would have thought but it makes sense. I have thought about going and looking at them but it seems to be private property. Thanx for the scoop.

  2. Loved your article about coal mines at Lake Desire. Thought you might want to know that McGarvey Park was logged a few years ago. So that might explain some of the clearings. There was also peat mining of wetland area 14 until the late 1980s.

    Click to access amp_nh_freshwater_volume1.pdf

  3. Yes, that is the exact structure! I’m sorry to learn it has been torn down. It was a favorite haunt of mine as a teenager. I do know Dorothy and she has a big interest in the local history. I no longer live at Lake Desire, but my mom still does so I follow the old neighborhood. I’ll start reading the rest of your posts tonight.

    • Hello I ha e lived here my whole life and have an interest in the history. There is a book to check out called 100 years by the cedar river… Also if you are interested in the other end other mine in renton it is located up on the hill above sam’s club and can be reached 819 cedar Ave s. Renton.

      • Hi – Oh I have loved that book 100 yrs on the cedar and it is full of info. I wandered all around that Renton mine but never dug into the hill. It looked a bit sketchy for this old girl.

        These days I am concentrating on the Cedar Mtn area which is around where Jones Rd & Maple Valley Hwy meet. I have been asking everyone if they know about a graveyard in the area since it seems to have existed but has been lost in time.

        Thanx for reading my humble blog. Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Cool articles and great feed back my uncle took me to the missle silos as a kid maybe 1959or so also 1 on 132nd before 242nd ?it was on the top of the highest point just south of a elementary school and has a bunch of appts there now . Also remember the area where Sams club is that had conveyors and large piles of coal next to Benson road .lived here all my life with more stories that you might be like

    • Wow you have been here a while to see the coal mine debris where the Renton Mine was. I still giggle to the reaction of people when I tell them that the mine entrance is below I-405.

      Do you have any stories about the mines out on the Maple Valley HIghway? The New Black Diamond or the elusive Cedar Mountain ones?

      Plus a couple of us are seeking the old graveyard that was part of the town of Cedar Mountain. We know it existed for two reasons. First a miner killed at the Franklin mine disaster was buried there (per the SEattle Times of the day) and in an old book on cemeteries it is mentioned but has no location for it.

      Any clues for us history sleuths? You can contact me at my email address if that is easier. Thanx for visiting my little blog.

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