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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Then we have the mining evidence. A big chunk out of the landscape and an even bigger and deeper hole.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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!!
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.
There on the road as it goes down a little slope to the Powerline trail I found more coal.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
Lastly I found more rusty metal. A big piece of pipe that went nowhere.
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.