Cedar Mountain Coal Revival

The return of coal mining at Cedar Mountain (aka West Coast Coal) 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?

My first clue about McQuade was in Edith Cavanaugh’s article in the 1961 Seattle Times called Lost Towns of King County; Busy Cedar Mountain only a memory. She told the reporter:

The mine experienced several shutdowns and was reopened about 1920, when John McQuade found the coal seams again. He leased the property to the Pacific Coast Coal Co., which sold to E.R. Peoples. The last operators were Ed Littlefield and his mother, who inherited the coal mine

When I read that I remember that early coal mine map of the Jones Slope. On that were two smaller shafts and penned in very small print along the shaft was “McQuade Slope”. It is bottom center on the map below.

Close up of the two 1920 Cedar Mtn Slopes – DNR Coal Mine Map K_41A

This map was published in 1920 by Pacific Coast Coal Company (PCCC) when they first purchased the rights to the Indian Mine from the Jones Brothers and Cedar Mountain Coal Co from the Campion Family who managed the estate of John Colman. Funny how this little clue would drive me to dig even more into the what, why and how the mine was brought back from life support.

Of course I wanted to look for this clue to the past. I did find a sink hole on 194th Ave SE that I believe is the McQuade Slope mine shaft. Read more about that search and these mines at Link to article on #4 & #5 Cedar Mtn Mine Shafts

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

The second thing I read about McQuade was around the house he built in 1925 on the north side of the Jones Road Bridge on the Cedar River. It was built from very beautiful brick manufactured by the Denny Renton Clay Brick Company. How could he afford this mansion house was voiced in the 1970s? The mystery was thickening.

Here is that little scrap of info around the house & our Mystery Man. Bill at Palmer Coking Company sent me this inside a bunch of miscellaneous items around the New Black Diamond Coal Mine. Not till I moved to investigating the Cedar Mountain Coal Mines did this make any sense or became relevant.

Note from Robert Cunningham in 1973 sent to me by Bill of Palmer Coking Company

Around the same time (1926) McQuade’s grown son Thomas bought property just to the west of the New Black Diamond Coal Mine (aka Indian). There he built a grocery with a house above it in anticipation of a town being built around the mine. This store still exists on the Maple Valley Renton Highway and is better known as the 76 Gas Station. Where did the money come from for that?

Today the Tom McQuade’s Store built for New Black Diamond Coal Mine – per Google Street View

This all points to him buying and making a success of the mine across the river where a fault had caused closure in the 1890s. As a refresher see the map below. The mine I am referencing is labeled the second & largest mine (on the right side of map). It is the mine shaft that I could not physically get too. Quest for Mine Entrance Article

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

Are you following along and see where I am going? It is all about the question of when and how did McQuade’s finger cause the revitalization of the Cedar Mountain Coal Mines? Only a few clues exist around it. Time to dig deeper.

My research for any and all clues took over. That is right, another rabbit hole consumed Batgirl. This Cedar Mountain Coal Mine had so many players, locations and the data was all over the place.

Are you ready to get into the weeds? Meet the man of mystery! John “Jack” McQuade.

John McQuade

He was born in County Tyrone Ireland 10/14/1863. He immigrated in 1880 per bio from Issaquah Museum but the censuses and  his obituary in The Issaquah Press have different dates. Hard to tell which is the right date and from my research on my grandfather it is not uncommon in this period to have discrepancies. 

In May 1880 (substantiates earlier immigration date), his mining career started in New Castle, Pennsylvania as a miner.  Then he traveled to Canada and mined in Nanaimo BC. Back to the USA, he went to Butte MT in 1883 and next to Cedar Mountain, working for Colman in 1885. One has to assume this knowledge on the first Cedar Mountain slope/mine entrance brought him back again and again.

With his mining experience and the lure of something different he went to work on the Northern Pacific Railroad Stampede Tunnel in 1886. He must have been working at it from the beginning until the end. They started hand drilling it on February 13, 1886. Moved to air drills and the two tunnels met into one May of 1888. It opened soon thereafter.

McQuade came to Gilman/Issaquah in 1888 (per Bio on Issaquah Museum site). That corresponds with the tunnel’s completion. He married Margarette (Maggie) Lewis 3/15/1890 in Seattle. They had four sons; Thomas, Charles, John, and William and three daughters; Edith, Ethel and Margarette. 

Railroad service came to town in 1887 and the coal and lumber industry took off. Next the town was platted in 1888, and incorporated under the name Gilman in 1892. The townsfolks renamed the village to Issaquah in 1899. Our guy was in the middle of all this early history.

When the town was incorporated he was appointed the first Gilman Marshal in April 1892 and continued in that position until February 1898. I also found he was Deputy Sheriff for North Bend but no dates listed. He was next the Mayor from January thru April 1900. The census of 1900 captures him twice and adds a little spin to his mining experience.

    • First 1900 census in Gilman Town with wife & 4 kids – owned house outright on Front Street – listed as Marshal instead of Mayor– Bio states this is confusing & perhaps he was filling in.
    • Second count he is on the Passenger list of the Whaler Jeannie of San Francisco in Nome, AK.  A gold rush had occurred that year where you could pick nuggets off the beach. Bio states he went to Alaska to mine.  Could he have grabbed some of those nuggets?
    • Another confirmation of his Alaska adventures is I found him listed in Nome on the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush Participants list compiled around 1899 – 1900. (also found two Jones Brothers and my Grandfather on this list)
Issaquah History Museum Photo

More Census data I found:

    • Census 1910 – Issaquah with wife & 6 kids on Front Street – listed as miner. Looks like he was no longer in civic service but was full time into the mining scene. Not sure what mine though.
    • Census 1920 – Issaquah Town with wife & 5 kids on Front Street – listed as coal mine operator (Connect the McQuade Slope and Edith’s comments) Also said he immigrated to US in 1883 & naturalized in 1889.  Hmmm.. Does not agree with bio or 1930 census.  
    • Found that one of his Issaquah homes was saved and rebuilt at the Gilman Village Shopping Center.  They moved a lot of old structures to create an eclectic group of shops and stores.  My research on age and where it was originally located did not yield much info.
      McQuade House at Gilman Village

He took over Cedar Mtn Mine in 1926 according to his Bio and Obituary. Colman/Campion company was Cedar Mountain Coal Company. I believe this is when the revitalized portion of the mine was renamed West Coast Coal Company. 

He built his wonderful Brick House 1925 thru 1927 at 20005 SE Jones Road.

Census 1930 – Cedar Mountain Brick Home with wife & 2 kids – listed as mine operator. I had to manually find this census since this  page was torn & taped right over them.  Just to add to the confusion it had an 1878 immigration date.  

Died at Cedar Mountain Brick Home 6/24/1934. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Renton, WA.

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This is the same cemetery where Jimmy Hendrix is buried and a large memorial erected.

Hendrix Memorial at Greenwood Cemetery, Renton, WA

This brings us back to the mystery of what happened between 1920 and 1926? How did McQuade come to find the coal seam and own this valuable piece of property and lastly afford that expensive brick home?

Let us dissect these questions one at a time. Warning!! Some of this is my assumption and what I can glean from the documents and maps.

How did McQuade find the coal seam again?

  • Let us start with that 1920 coal mine map K_41A that documents the Jones Slope (Indian Mine) and two Cedar Mountain slopes. One of those slopes is named McQuade Slope and I have identified it is in the northeast corner of section 30. That puts it squarely inside the Cedar Mountain Coal Mine properties owned by Colman Estate administrated by Campion.
  • Pacific Coast Coal Company (PCCC) purchases the Coleman Estate ownership of the Cedar Mountain Coal Mine in Section 30 in 1920. This was at the same time as they acquired the Jones Brothers’ claims.
  • Why did they buy this property? It was because McQuade had proved there was coal beyond the pesky fault. That made the closed Cedar Mountain Coal Mine valuable again. PCCC was going to use that info to grow their New Black Diamond development in a hope that the Jones seam/slope continued towards the McQuade Slope.

How did John McQuade benefit from this rediscovering of the lost Cedar Mountain Coal Seam?

  • I am assuming that Campion the executer of the Colman Estate generously shared the bounty from the PCCC purchase with McQuade.
  • Perhaps there was a lease agreement between them like the Jones had on their property. Whichever, he found it and thus everyone connected got rich or richer.

How did McQuade come to own considerable property including the closed mine across the river (aka West Coast Coal Mine)?

I have only more questions and conjectures to answer this with. Did he finally spend gold nuggets he potentially found in Nome, Alaska? Or did he take the funds and relationships with the Colman Estate to make his dreams come true? I am betting on The Colman Estate funding his endeavors and a slim chance he still had gold left over from Nome. (UPDATE – Talked with Mike who lived in the McQuade House during the 1970s. One of the first things he said to me was McQuade had gold from going to Alaska. Perhaps that really is a bigger piece of the how he could afford the mine and house.)

Don’t think we will ever really know the money part unless I dig in archives. Unfortunately, they are at this point closed to the public. However, this is where old property maps come in. They will demonstrate how McQuade gambled by buying the properties with potential coal. Where the funding came from might be in debate but the ownerships are not fiction.

We start with the Anderson 1907 map of King County Township 23 North Range 6 East W.M.. Let us review several stakeholders in the area:

  • Cedar Mountain Coal Company (Colman’s mining group) can be seen in section 30. They owned the northern half plus the NW corner of the southern half.
  • J M Colman private holdings of the southern half of section 20.
  • Colman died 12/13/1906, so this and his coal company were all part of his estate in 1907. We know from the 1920 Seattle Times article about the New Black Diamond Mine that John T Campion was the executor of the Colman Estate. I also uncovered that Campion was the President of Cedar Mountain Coal Company in the State of WA Report of State Inspector of Coal Mines 1/1/1905 – 9/30/1906 Biennial Report Vol 5.
  • Samuel Blair (estate) was a large land owner in the areas around the Colman pieces. He held ownership in Sections 30 and 29. A piece of the section 29 property contains the large Cedar Mountain coal mine that is related to our mystery man McQuade. Blair was part of Colman’s original coal mining activity. According to the 1961 Seattle Times article he was President of Cedar Mountain Coal Mine when it was first established. Colman must have relied upon Samuel Blair’s mining experience since he had large interests in the Seattle Coal & Transportation Company. Their prime mine was at Newcastle in the 1870s. Hence by 1907 he owned part of the area.
  • E. Grondahl owns a small piece between Cedar Mountain Coal & Blair in section 30.
  • Northwestern Improvement Company has land holdings in Section 29 around the large coal mine. That company was the Northern Pacific Railroad’s subsidiary that was set up to manage it’s land grants and other coal opportunity land purchases. They were developing coal for their own use and outside sales. The Federal government deeded certain amounts of alternating sections of public land for each mile of track that was built to encourage railroad development.

Next we have the 1912 map by Kroll which shows a few changes. Grondahl’s share of section 30 was bought up by Cedar Mountain Coal Company and Samuel Blair estate was settled and now owned by Abbie B Blair.

Lastly, this 1926 Metzker’s map below shows PCCC owns the old Cedar Mountain Coal Co (section 30) for it’s development of the New Black Diamond Coal Mine. Note that Lots 8, 9 & 10 of Section 19 is owned by PCCC and is where the major industrial complex is built.

To seal the deal on our mystery man’s rise to becoming a coal mine owner the map shows that McQuade has purchased the Blair & J.M. Coleman properties. Some of which have been added to a company called West Coast Coal Co. This includes the property where McQuade’s house is built in the southwest corner of section 20 on this map. Basically, he obtained all the original mine lands that PCCC did not purchase for the New Black Diamond Coal Mine.

There you have it… McQuade’s coup d’état!!

What a man John McQuade must have been. I am not 100% sure of all the details but my research gave us good clues. Our man of mystery pulled off the gamble that he could find the coal again. Then he capitalized on that find to redevelop the original Cedar Mountain Coal Mine.

That is how the Cedar Mountain Coal Mine was resurrected.

Time to move on to my next article. We will follow the final batch of owners and a few other characters around Cedar Mountain Coal Mines. That will bring us to the conclusion my adventure and research on this coal mine with so many players and mine shafts.

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 (Cedar Mountain) can disappear!

Locating Lost Old Coal Mines of King County


  1. I lived in the McQuaid house with my parents, thy own it many years And I now live were mine openings are I live by them still up the Hill 196th street mike sauve 206 981 6510 I can tell history I even found a grave stone by the river last summer

  2. Jerry Littlemore had a page or two from the history of King County that has John McQuade’s bio. It discusses the Alaska trip, striking gold and making it onto the last ferry of the season when he got word his wife was sick. I’ll try and find it for you

    • I love it a new nuance to it all. Who is Jerry? Maybe he has other info on the mystery around Cedar Mountain.

      Been digging and visiting since my last post on Cedar Mtn. Got quite a bit of info and adventure to share. A bit additive.

  3. Hi there, John McQuade was my grandmother’s grandfather. Our family mostly lives in the olympia area today. One of my family members has a wealth of the history and even a love story about him and his wife. Thank you for writing about him. We go to the house in Gilman village and meet up there for family reunions.

    • This is so special!! He and the Jones Brothers fascinated me so much. That house he had built there at Cedar Mtn still stands and is super special too.

      If your family historian wants to communicate with me please use my email address D_radams@msn.com. I am still looking for an old cemetery that was in the area. Plus heard that a grave of a little one is on the property of the old brick house. Any new info is always wonderful and then I can update my articles or write a new one.

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