For a Decade Cedar Mountain Fades Away

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.

Two groups sometime around 1918-19 saw that sleeping opportunity and started searching again southwest of the first & third slopes. They gambled that they could find that seam on the other side of the fault. As a reminder here is the map with the first three shafts identified for you. The new diggings are off to the left.

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

Both of these groups had similar backgrounds. They had participated in coal mining, they mined in Alaska (either or both the Yukon or Nome gold rushes), and worked on the railroads in positions such as conductors and tunnel building. They were in their middle age, had some disposable income and the grit to search for the next coal bonanza on Cedar Mountain.

One group was the Brothers Jones, which I covered extensively on how they found the Jones Seam/Slope between 1918 and 1920. (Link to Jones Brothers Coal Mine – Beginning of Indian Mine) Then they sold their interest to Pacific Coast Coal Company who developed it into the New Black Diamond Coal Mine (aka Indian Mine). Here is an early map showing that early Jones slope.

K41_A Jones & Cedar Mtn Slopes 1920

On the map above that slope they started is on the far left. Kind of dark and smudgy but you can see the lay of the land.

Ed Jones had obtained a lease for 25 years starting January 1, 1918. Here they found the aforementioned Jones Slope/Seam and opened it up in a small way. I thought when I did the original research I knew the chain of ownership. However, my deeper research into Cedar Mountain made it unclear as to who they signed that lease with.

In a 1993 Historical Landmark form for the 1924 Office Building at New Black Diamond Mine it says it was Fred & Edith Cavanaugh who owned the property around Cedar Mountain. However, when I reviewed 1926 Metzker ownership maps the property was listed as NW Improvement (an arm of Northern Pacific Railroad).

Metzker Map 1926 of property owners.

Looking at the maps Jones Slope is in Section 25 (NW Improvement) and due south of Fred Cavanaugh’s property in Section 24. The truth probably more likely that the Jones started searching in Section 24 and moved south into 25. There they found the coal seam.

At the same time that the Jones Brothers found coal northwest of Lake Desire on 174th Ave SE, John McQuade sunk a slope on the east side of Section 30. The first DNR map (Jones & New Black Diamond) shows McQuade working a slope on a mine called Cedar Mtn #1 McQuade Slope. Here is a zoomed view of that mine entrance (bottom center) and in the upper center is Cedar Mtn #2 seam. I am not 100% sure who mined this but my bet is on McQuade. I call them #4 & #5 holes.

Close up of the two 1920 Cedar Mtn Slopes

At the time I was researching the New Black Diamond Mine I did not think much of what McQuade Slope meant. Then as I moved into Cedar Mountain research I read in Edith’s article that he was the one who in 1920 found the Cedar Mountain seam again. Connecting the dots I went searching for the location of the 4th & 5th holes on this map called K41_A.

To find these two slopes I visited the Maple Valley Heights Neighborhood several times. The first round I just went looking at the lay of the land with a rough idea of where they might be. Did not turn up anything so I went home and created another superimposed old map on top of a current map.

2020 combined with 1920 map

I had been close on the McQuade Slope when I drove under the power lines. After building this 2020 meets 1920 map, guess the obvious thing I found. A very suspicious sink hole. It is even consuming the road. The county will have to repair this or at some point it will fall into the growing century old mine hole.

Power Lines overhead on 194th Avenue SE looking across the river valley.

This looks over to where I tried to get down to the mine entrance #2 across the river. That was where I traversed a large quarry and got thwarted by blackberries.

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

The photos do not give the sink hole justice. It looks not that bad when in reality it must be 20 or 30 feet deep. Wonder how it would look if the dang blackberries were not there?

Did the McQuade Slope tunnel collapse or is this the entrance?
194th Ave SE is sliding into the old mine’s grip

It is hard to tell if I found the opening or just where the tunnel collapsed.

The map had another shaft noted. It was called Cedar Mountain #2 and it was a 8 degree slope vs McQuade’s Cedar Mountain #1 which was 23 degree slope. I estimated it was in the area bordered by 163rd on the south side, 161st Streets SE the north, on the east by 192nd and 190th on the west side.

I drove over that way and had planned on checking out a house that was deserted to get the feel of the back yards. Before I got there I saw a couple and their kids working in the yard. So, I stopped and asked them that question. “Do you know of any old coal mine entrance around here?” He was fascinated by this and said maybe that was why the adjacent property would could not sell. Then he told me about the lot up on the corner of 163rd & 190th. That he had heard it was unsellable because of a vertical mine shaft.

My trip to the derelict house had turned out a bust but this was a great lead. Off I went to the other end of the block. It was a bit off from where my map had pinpointed the spot but close enough to be it.

This lot was bordered by trees but the interior was cleared of brush around the standing timber. I climbed through the hedge like trees and tromped around. Did not find a big hole in the ground but saw a few old building materials. The question is…. are they new or 100% old?

Corner lot that had potential mine shaft

As I popped out of the tree line I saw a lady getting her mail. I gave it a try to ask her what she knew about this lot. I got an earful of information.

First she was well aware of the mines around her house. Told me about several of her freinds having sink holes appear and take out trees or other things. What she knew about this empty lot was that she had heard it was not sellable because of the septic field problems in Maple Valley Heights. The county thought there was not enough drainage to add more. She also told me that this lot was cleared so the neighbor to the south’s kids could play and bike in there.

Could be both reasons are true or only one. Guess you can’t put in a septic tank field if there is a vertical mine shaft somewhere on the property. Who knows at this point. Did not find a solid clue to the second mine shaft. Maybe I will go back and talk to more neighbors. But the virus kind of makes that awkward to say the least.

There you have Cedar Mountain #4 & #5 holes in the ground. How they were part of the big search to find the coal again 100 years ago. Cedar Mountain had faded for almost two decades but was beginning to arise again.

Teaser on my next article. It will follow McQuade’s mysterious rise to riches and the lovely house he built across the Jones Road Bridge. It will cover how John McQuade used this #4 shaft info to understand how to make the big mine across the river (#2) profitable again.

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 years of old coal mine history.

Remember Times are a changing.  Blink and all will be changed. Literally, a town can disappear!

Locating Lost Old Coal Mines of King County


    • Hello, Really nice stuff, thanks. I grew up in MV heights. The house I grew up in has the gas pipeline running through the front yard and we would walk down 164th and through that pipeline right-a-away on our way to go fishing at the cedar river. This would have been in the 70’s. I recall there were timber structures very near where you have identified mine #3 that we climbed around as kids. It was always well understood by me and my friends that there were mines behind the king county shops, but at the time we did not know that what we were playing on was also a mine.

      • HI – so glad you found a little history to tickle you.

        I would love more on the location of that timber structure you mentioned close to #3 mine? That would help me continue to sort out how it was. I have had to do a lot of assuming cause there is no map on the DNR site nor really history written about it.

        Thanx a million Robin

  1. Just stumbled across your site while researching the Black River and Renton Junction. I really like what you are doing. I grew up in Maple Valley in the 1950’s-60’s and had friends who lived up Cedar Mountain in what were then new housing developments. Occasionally someone’s backyard would disappear in a “sink hole” which turned out to be an old mine shaft.

    My dad knew a bit about the mines, having been raised in Renton. He used to point out a mine entrance on the way in to Renton via Benson road (I think).

    I remember one day in the winter, riding in my dad’s 1938 Studebaker, traveling the Renton-Maple Valley highway. Just by chance I looked up the hill above the old King County shops buildings, and there through the bare tree branches I caught a glimpse of an old tiny locomotive hanging at the end of a broken section of track.

    Anyhow, thanks for writing this. I’ve already learned more about this area and the mines than I did in all my years living in MV. I’m going back now to read your articles in depth.

    • Oh I am so glad you like it. The old locomotive story is super special. There is an area up behind that cleared site that was the coal cart loading and maintenance area. Big field still exists there today. You will see photos of it in one of my NBD series.

      There are several of us researching Cedar Mountain now. It seems like the mines New Black Diamond/Indian and the Cedar Mountain mines were ignored by all the local museums and historical societies. It sits between Renton & Maple Valley-Black Diamond.

      I am working on trying to find the graveyard of Cedar Mountain. Do you know of where that might be? It seems to be lost in the weeds. We know it existed because of a Franklin Miner killed in the 1894 accident there was buried there. Plus an old book has it listed with other King County Cemeteries. But alas no address or location.

      Plus did you ever go to the mine entrance off what is now the gas pipeline? We are seeking the site where the opening of the shaft was. I think found it but am still guessing. Any thoughts? Also, any spots you can point out on where the sink hole happened with a mine shaft? Super helpful if you do.

      Anyway… let me know if you have more to share or have questions after you read more of my many articles. I assume you found my directory which lists the articles. It is called Lost Coal Mines of King County.

      • I’m afraid I don’t have any specifics in regard to your questions. I lived near Shadow Lake, and tho’ that doesn’t seem far away, as kids we only had bicycles for transportation, so I never got to Cedar Mountain except in passing in a car with my parents. After getting a car my friends and I were too cool to be interested in things like coal mines (!) This was around 1966….

        You may have already done this, but I recommend getting in touch with anyone at the Maple Valley Historical Society. The people there are friends and acquaintances of mine, most of whom had relatives who had lived in the area much longer than I. My family were relative newcomers. If you can get in touch with Sandy Faul (ask anyone at the Historical Society for Sandy Phillips), who still lives in the area, she could probably direct you to people who could answer your questions, if she doesn’t have the answers herself. I’m sure she would feel as I do about your research work. Please use my name.

        Feel free to email me with questions and I may be able to supply you with specifics that don’t lend themselves to a comment section like this. Keep up the good work!

  2. You made me smile. Too cool for mines. I have been talking to Maple valley, black diamond & renton museums/historical. They are all Great. Thanx again for reading my humble blog

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