This is the second installment of my investigation into the Jones Slope of the Indian (aka New Black Diamond) Coal Mine. (here is a link to the 1st installment “The Beginning” ) After my initial visit in May I went back in early June to gain a better understanding of what the heck was what?
That is right, it was a conundrum as to what the “The Hole” represented. I may have identified on the 1930’s coal mine map the area but there are a lot of structures it could have been. For your reference here is the snip of this area.
In the left corner you will see from left to right; Fan House, a Water Tank (circle in middle of box), the Hoist and Transformer. “The Hole” must be one of these four structures. Quickly we can get it to only three by eliminating the transformer. I figured it would be just a base to hold the power lines.
The clue that helps us here is the rock dump to the right of the Transformer. Remember how I found this big ass coal pile on my first visit? That landmark puts some perspective on things along with the next map snip. This is from 1949 & you can see the tank still existed. The current 174th Avenue SE is not in existence yet but that road from the Jones Slope to the main complex down at the cedar river is.
I also have to mention this map has the Fire King Coal Mine off to the left of where the tank is pictured. That mine was also called Red Devil and I wrote several articles about it too.
One more map now to set the stage. This is the super duper Spring Lake/Lake Desire Park map I found at the trail head and then marked up.
Look where I have noted K41. To the right of that is 174th Ave SE and where the trail crosses the road. Think of those pictures showing the rocks gating the dirt road “The Hole” is on.
At this point I was betting on the tank being what was at “The Hole”. It is on the right side of the road and just about where 174th Ave would cross in later years. On this early June visit I went seeking to confirm this.
I wandered over to “The Hole” and got my head wrapped around it’s size, how it is accessed to the dirt road and any other clue I might find.
The deformed tree is the first clue. What structure could have caused it to have that odd formation on it’s trunk? Let us do some math. According to the 1930s map of the area the tank is 13′ in diameter and 20′ tall. It has a base around it that I calculate at about 26 feet square. See if you think the tree could have been next to that kind of structure?
See why I was thinking the tank? Next I paced around the area and found some cement pieces. This only confirms it could be the tank foundation or the cement house for the Fan Vent. At least it confirms it is not the mine entrance which would have been mostly timbers and steel rail.
Time to expand my area so I went looking for any sign of the road leading down the hill to the river valley. I walked down the Powerline Trail past the rock pile made of coal and out of the forest canopy into the sun. Here is a wide strip of land that houses miles of major electric transmission towers.
I then climbed up this trail you see above and got to a higher point on a road that traveled this open area. From there I looked back to see how far they went to the east.
From my viewpoint I took a 360 degree video showing how the land goes into valleys and peaks. Imagine the area 100 years ago with trees and roads leading to the main Indian (aka New Black Diamond) coal mine complex down the big ridge into the river valley.
After listening to the buzzing power lines and braving the warmer air versus the forest, I headed back down the Powerline Trail. My next stop was around 174th Avenue SE. Remember how I am leaning towards the water tank being “The Hole”. If that is true then the Fan House must be in the woods right off the road.
However I was sidetracked by a path that was on the powerline side of the big rock pile full of coal. The path itself was black with coal and that is what caught my eye.
This area behind and to the northwest of the rock dump was tough going. Lots of briar and nettles plus small bugs. Those bugs puffed up every step I took especially when I hit downed trees. The most interesting feature I found back in this area was a small hill with evergreen trees on it. On both of the 1930’s mine map and the 1949 USGS map there is a finger like area that is a small ridge behind the coal pile. Could this be that?
It sure looked more natural than the coal pile since it was boulders and had older trees versus the brushy type vegetation in the rest of the area. Or could it have been pushed by man into this pile? I will let you decide for yourself what you think.
Back to my original destination to see if I can find something that resembles the Fan Housing. I was thinking holes in the ground cause this fan was on a shaft directly into the big mine complex. It run parallel to the Jones Slope and I was thinking anything left would be close to 174th.
After a bit of fighting with the bushes and a ditch next to the street I found a few sunken areas. Maybe these were signs of man and my theory of the water tank being “The Hole” being true.
For the weeks following my second trip I looked at the 1930’s mine map and went over in my head what “The Hole” used to be. You may ask why I was so obsessed by this? It was all because finding the Hoist hinged on this assumption being correct. In my heart I know it was possible the cement I kept finding could be parts of the hoist but was buoyed by the Renton Coal Mine and Ford Slope Coal Mine. In both cases their hoist was still in existence when all else was destroyed.
Crop Coal Slope
My next destination was to investigate the trail that continued on the other side of 174th Avenue SE. On the 1949 USGS map the road that had the tank on it (peek at that map above again) continued to the Southeast. Add to this that the 1941 map of the New Black Diamond Coal Mine (aka Indian Mine) showed along that they had mined coal from this area. They called it the Crop Coal and it had it’s own slope. This was done close to the end of mine’s life in March of 1940. Check out this map & you can see the Jones Slope on the right and the Crop Coal Slope on the left.
Someone has been back here surveying just like over at “The Hole”. Close to the entrance are two trees with spray paint on them. Pretty sure it is not just graffiti.
I walked down the whole length of this road until it became a game trail. That was when the nettles were more than I could deal with and turned around. I found lots of old junk, coal, timbers and signs of mankind from decades ago. Let us start with the junk.
I found one area that seemed the most plausible for being the Crop Coal Slope. It was a bit north of where I found the blue car/truck parts. It had a jersey barrier, big old timbers and what seemed like a depression in the soil on the correct side of the road.
Here are some photos of the things around it. Mostly the timbers stacked up on the opposite side of the road.
Then we have the proof of the pudding!!! COAL. Found chunks and crushed piles.
That was a lot of hiking around on June 2nd. Felt like I succeeded in getting my head around the lay of the land. I found more coal and the secondary slope. Drove away still pondering what “The Hole” was and felt I was getting closer to knowing.
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.